Washington—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today released a list of 33 projects nationwide that will receive Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) funding in 2013.
The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including “legal triage” tools to guide self-represented individuals through complex legal procedures, online support for pro bono attorneys, and improved access to legal assistance for people in remote areas.
Since its start in 2000, LSC’s TIG program has awarded 561 grants totaling more than $40 million. With LSC-TIG funding, innovative legal aid organizations have built a solid foundation that includes a network of statewide websites serving both attorneys and clients, and many effective and replicable systems that support clients, staff, and pro bono efforts.
“Leveraging scarce resources to expand access to legal assistance for low-income Americans requires innovative, smart use of technology,” said LSC President James J. Sandman. “Judges repeatedly tell us that the number of low-income individuals who come to court without legal assistance is rising. I am particularly pleased that several of the 2013 grants will be used to develop information and tools for self-represented individuals.”
Examples of 2013 TIG projects:
$649,270 to Ohio State Legal Services for continued development of LawHelp Interactive, a national resource that prepares legal forms and documents by asking users a series of questions and using their answers to complete the documents. The site is used by legal aid staff attorneys, pro bono lawyers, and people representing themselves. In 2012, visitors to LawHelp Interactive completed nearly 400,000 documents.
Sen. Sherrod Brown said: “These federal resources will continue the great work that the Ohio State Legal Services provides to constituents throughout Ohio. This additional funding will help expand the ability of the center to provide low-income individuals with free legal support and resources through the LawHelp Interactive program.”
$290,180 to New Mexico Legal Aid to build 1) a statewide online civil legal “triage” system that will guide users through a series of questions, then generate a customized response that includes connecting users with the organization(s) and/or resources most likely to help them; and 2) a secure online “pro bono portal” that allows attorneys to assist clients remotely in a virtual law office environment.
Sen. Tom Udall said: "As a former attorney general, I know the vital role New Mexico Legal Aid fulfills to ensure that all of our citizens have equal access to the courts and to justice, regardless of their income. These Technology Initiative Grants will help Legal Aid expand their critical legal services and deliver quality representation more efficiently to individuals across the state. It is important to ensure Legal Aid has the resources necessary to most effectively serve communities throughout New Mexico, and I'm proud to support them in the U.S. Senate. These grants will assist them in providing equal access to justice for all New Mexicans."
Rep. Ben Ray Luján said: “New Mexico Legal Aid provides important assistance to low-income New Mexicans to ensure that all citizens, regardless of income, have access to legal services that promote justice throughout our communities. These vital federal funds will assist NMLA in its efforts to expand services and see that more people across the state receive the legal guidance they could otherwise not afford.”
$121,991 to Pine Tree Legal Assistance to develop an “expert” intake and referral system that will analyze individuals’ case information and guide them to the most relevant resources in PTLA’s extensive online legal library.
Senator Angus S. King, Jr. said: “As a young man, I was fortunate to work at Pine Tree Legal, where I saw firsthand how their services and resources made a real and positive difference in the lives of people and families across Maine. This technology initiative grant will help to improve the delivery of those valuable services by enhancing online tools that will enable people to gain better and faster access to vital legal resources.”
Rep. Mike Michaud said “Pine Tree Legal Assistance of Maine has been helping residents of our state get the help they need for years. By making their online resources even more accessible and easier to use, this important grant is going to ensure that they can continue to deliver quality legal assistance to Mainers.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree said: “For many low-income Mainers, Pine Tree Legal is the only way they can get access to the legal help when they need it, and I'm pleased that LSC is pitching in to help support this vital work. Not only will this smart use of technology help people who are seeking legal assistance find what they need more easily but it will also help Pine Tree Legal work more efficiently so they can do an even better job delivering legal services to the people who need their help.”
LSC was established by the Congress in 1974 to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.