Matters Service Report
Guidelines for
Data Collection and Reporting

  • Reporting on services provided to individuals (e.g., referrals, materials, pro se kits) as a normal part of the intake and service delivery process...........................................


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  • Reporting on services provided in group settings or events (e.g., workshops, presentations, clinics).........................................................................................................


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  • Reporting on services provided to the low-income community as a whole (e.g., Web-based services, outreach)...........................................................................................
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1. Data collection on "matters" handled for individuals

Several kinds of non-case "matters" are performed for individuals who have applied for legal assistance to a legal services program or hotline. These include the following:

  • Referral of an applicant or hotline caller to other agencies or sources of assistance;
  • Provision of legal education materials in lieu of further legal assistance, e.g., printed brochures, videos, CD-ROMs ;
  • Provision of pro se assistance materials, e.g., self-help divorce kits, pro se forms, instructions on how to proceed in Small Claims court;
  • Help desk at court.

The overall approach we are proposing is to create a list of "Matters Codes" to track non-case "matter" categories. All LSC grantees are familiar with the LSC Legal Problem Codes ranging from 1-99. We have created the LSC Matters Codes ranging from 101-159. This will allow programs to collect information on matters in individual cases by providing this one additional field to their case management system (CMS). With minor modifications, these CMS systems or forms can be used to collect and tabulate data on completed non-case "matters."

Using Matters Codes

Currently LSC uses legal program codes for areas of law reported on the CSR reports. The new LSC system to report Matters has six different types of Matters: Community Legal Education, Pro Se Assistance, Referred, Outreach, Indirect Service, and Other. These six areas are divided into different areas, called Models.

To help you keep track of the matters you perform, we have developed Matters Codes, similar to the legal problem codes with which you are familiar. Below is a list of the codes:

LSC Matters Codes

Community Legal Education  
  Presentations to community groups 101
  Legal education brochures 102
  Legal education materials posted on web sites 103
  Newsletter articles addressing Legal Ed topics 104
  Video legal education materials 105
  Other CLE 109
Pro Se Assistance  
  Workshops or Clinics 111
  Help desk at court 112
  Self-help printed materials (e.g. divorce kits) 113
  Self-help materials posted on web site 114
  Self-help materials posted on kiosks 115
  Other Pro Se assistance 119
  Referred to other provider of civil legal services to low-income people 121
  Referred to private bar 122
  Referred to provider of human or social services 123
  Referred to other source of assistance 129
  Informational notices published in print media 131
  TV spots or PSAs 132
  Radio spots or PSAs 133
  Newsletters – external to program 134
  Referral agreements with other agencies 135
  "How to reach us" pages on web sites 136
  Other Outreach 139
Indirect Services  
  Legal education for lay service providers 141
  Collaborative service delivery models 142
  Other indirect services 149
Other Matters  
  Mediation/alternative dispute resolution services 151
  Other Matters, none of the above 159

This approach allows you to record the information needed to report to LSC with only minor modifications to your case management systems. These include:

  • Addition of a field to record the Matters Code, with a drop-down list of the codes.

  • Modification of queries to select cases with "Matters Codes" from "closed cases"

  • Development of reports to summarize the matters data by type of matter. (Additional reports can be developed to tabulate the data in various ways for local use — e.g., cross-tabulations of "referral" categories by legal problem.)

  • Appropriate re-labeling of input screens to make the distinction between "Closed Cases" and "Completed Matters" clear to the intake staff or advocates who are entering the data.

  • Properly train the staff who to use both the Matters Code and the Legal Problem Code to record matters. Since matters must be reported both by totals for Models and for Case Type, both numbers are needed. This is why you may not simply add the Matters Codes to the Legal Problem Codes.

  • Add two new Legal Problem Codes to your current list. These two codes will be used with referrals. They are 97-Other Problems (non-legal) and 98-Criminal referrals.

2. Data collection on "matters" handled in group settings

These types of matters include the following:

  • Legal education workshops and presentations
  • Pro se clinics and workshops
  • Legal education for lay service providers

Three types of information are required:

  • Numbers of people who directly receive the services;
  • Narrative overview of the services provided; and
  • Vignettes, or "good stories" that can be used to illustrate the results and benefits that are achieved as a result of these services.

Situation (1): Small numbers of events. If your program does not offer a large number of these kinds of events each year, this information can be collected very simply. The staff members responsible for these services can usually draft the narrative information readily from notes or memory. The numbers can be estimated by consulting the calendar and writing down all the community presentations made during the year along with an estimate of the number of people who attended.

Situation (2): Large numbers of events. You will need to have a tracking system in place if you have an ambitious community legal education or pro se assistance program. This system need not be complex or burdensome. For example, the person responsible for reporting can ask the people who make presentations or conduct workshops to provide brief reports, using a simple form provided for this purpose.

This report would capture the following information about each event:

  • Date of the event, title and name of the person completing the report;

  • Type of event (community legal education, pro se assistance, etc.)

  • Number of participants

  • Brief narrative (2-3 sentences) describing the event.

  • "Good story" — If the event had especially good results or had an especially compelling impact on participants, the presenter can include a brief vignette in her report.

These reports can be kept in a "reporting" file and used to tabulate the numbers of "matters" completed report at the time the matters report is due.

In many instances, procedures are already in place that can be tapped into for capturing the required information. For example, many pro se clinic projects keep sign-up sheets or attendance logs capturing data on the number of people attending each session. All that is needed is a way of summarizing this information for the annual "matters" report.

Some case management systems already have provisions for collecting this information. Kemp’s Clients, for example, has an "Other Services" input screen for capturing information on community legal education workshops, pro se clinics or other events that meet the definition of "matters." With minor modifications, this system will work for collecting the information needed to report your matters to LSC. We have worked with Kemps Caseworks so that they will have information on how to make these changes available on their web site.

Also, we have worked with the Western New York Law Center to be sure they have time to modify their TIME system so that it can capture the information as well.

These kinds of provisions can be added to most database management programs without extensive programming. Grantees should consult the people responsible for maintaining their case management systems to see what would be involved in adding this capacity.

Preparations for collecting this information. These consist of three steps:

  • Establishing who is responsible for keeping track of this information,

  • Setting up a simple procedure for ensuring the numbers and narratives are recorded and fed to the person who prepares the end-of-the-year report, and

  • Checking from time to time, including running trial reports, to make sure that the data are being captured and that suitable reports can be tabulated at the time they are needed.

3. Data collection on "matters" representing services provided to the low-income population as a whole

These kinds of matters include the following:

*   Legal education articles published in newsletters

*   Client information brochures distributed in client waiting rooms or to local agencies

*   Web site or kiosk postings of legal education or pro se assistance materials

These require estimates of the total numbers of people directly receiving these services and narrative descriptions and "good story" vignettes illustrating the results and benefits of these services on the low-income community.

  1. Newsletter articles. We acknowledge that numbers regarding people who receive community legal education information from newsletters will be rough approximations at best. Still, it is useful to know whether the scale of this service is on the order of 500 people annually, 5,000 people, or 50,000 people. Without some numerical information it is difficult for a stakeholder to appreciate how significant this category is in the overall legal education effort of a program.

    At the outside, the number of people reached would be the number of newsletter copies that are distributed containing legal education articles. This information can be obtained from the staff person responsible for program newsletters.

  2. Client information brochures. As with newsletter articles, order-of-magnitude estimates of the numbers of client information brochures and similar legal education materials will provide useful indications of the scale of this service to the low income community. At the outside it would be the number of brochures printed each year to replace the number that are distributed. The narrative description of this service that you provide in your report would indicate the nature and number of different topics covered — bankruptcy, wills, truth-in lending, etc.. This information can be obtained from the Community Legal Education coordinator in the program.

  3. Web site or kiosk postings. This is another topic for which order-of-magnitude estimates are useful but expectations of precision kept modest. "Page hits" is a useful measure available to your web master from software mounted on your program’s web server or Internet hosting service. Scores of statistics are available from these services, but the one that currently seems to make the most sense is the number of "page hits" on pages containing the types of information defined as "matters" -- community legal education materials, pro se assistance materials or outreach ("how to reach us") information.

    Statistical tabulations of page hits can be compiled and printed out monthly or quarterly. These can be tabulated by the webmaster to cover a year’s time when the annual "matters" report is due.


For further information or technical assistance, contact:


Table 1:

Checklist of Preparation Steps for "Matters" Data Collection






Detailed Steps

1. Initial preparations

Map out the preparations needed and who should be involved
  • Review the Matters Service Report instruments.
  • Flag the matters that are relevant to your program.
  • Identify the staff person(s) who potentially could track and/or provide this information.
  • Give briefing to other staff explaining the purpose of matters reporting and the implications of data collection for the Matters Service Report.

2. Design and plan

Create an approach for collecting / tracking data for each type of matter
  • Review each type of matter with the person(s) responsible for reporting on it.
  • Develop an approach for collecting/tracking the data – e.g., modify existing logs/forms, create new forms, integrate into case management system, create estimating procedure to be used at reporting time, etc..
  • Flag problems (if any) where further information or help is needed – e.g., definitions of data items, help in drafting supplemental forms.
  • Outline training needed to prepare staff for their role in matters reporting.
  • Follow up as needed to resolve problems and finish the plan.

3. Prepare materials & execute plan

Ensure that all necessary forms, instructions, codes, etc. are available to staff who must collect the data
  • Prepare materials and distribute to appropriate people.
  • Execute changes in computerized case management software if needed

4. Train staff

Ensure that all staff who have a role in matters reporting have the information and materials they need.
  • Have meeting(s) with all staff involved; distribute forms & materials; answer questions; flag issues where further information is needed.
  • Follow up to answer remaining questions

5. Execute data collection

Integrate matters data collection seamlessly into program’s service delivery operations.
  • • Get data collection underway.
  • • Flag problems and questions; resolve them through discussion internally in program and/or technical assistance from LSC.
  • • Keep track of lessons learned, innovations developed, issues requiring changes in the approach, etc..