Legal Services Corporation
For 25 Years, America's
Partner For Equal Justice
PROGRAM LETTER 2000-7
Board of Directors
Douglas S. Eakeley
John N. Erlenborn
Hulett H. Askew
LaVeeda M. Battle
John T. Broderick, Jr.
F. Wm. McCalpin
St. Louis, MO
Maria Luisa Mercado
Nancy H. Rogers
Thomas F. Smegal, Jr.
San Francisco, CA
Ernestine P. Watlington
Program Letters 98-1 and 98-6 launched LSC's most recent state planning activities approximately three years ago. Pressured by funding shortfalls and the changing needs of clients and concerned with enhancing system efficiency, effectiveness and the ability to meet clients' legal needs, legal services programs throughout the United States were challenged by these two program letters to become actively engaged in a process of reassessing their delivery practices and policies, restructuring their legal services delivery systems and reallocating their legal services dollars. Essentially, LSC Program Letters 98-1 and 98-6 asked grantees to look at their roles in a new way -- to expand their horizons from what's best for the clients in my service area to what is best for clients throughout the state. Using this new lens, programs were asked to report on how they would coordinate and integrate their work in seven important areas -- enhancing client access, efficiently delivering high quality legal assistance; effectively using technology to expand access and enhance services; promoting client self-help and preventive legal education and advice; coordinating legal work and training staff; coordinating and collaborating with the private bar; developing additional resources to support legal services delivery; and designing a legal services delivery configuration that enhanced client services, reduced barriers and operated efficiently and effectively.
On January 28, 2000, the LSC Board of Directors approved LSCís 5-year Strategic Direction Plan.1 This document commits LSC to dramatically enhance the impact of Legal Services programs throughout the nation by improving access to legal services among eligible persons while enhancing the quality of the services delivered. The Plan highlighted LSCís State Planning Initiative as the primary strategy for expanding access to and availability of services throughout the United States.
Over the course of the last three years, many states have begun to develop comprehensive and integrated legal services delivery systems that:
These are exciting developments. However, it continues to be apparent that in many states and territories, the legal services delivery system remains a fragmented set of disconnected services. In many states we continue to find a wide divergence in the availability of services, client access capabilities and civil equal justice resources. This stands in stark contrast to our expectation that the statewide delivery system be constructed and maintained to provide for: (a) relative equity of client access to the civil legal services delivery system throughout the state: (b) relative equity in the availability of the full range of client service capacities necessary to meet the full continuum of client legal needs regardless of where in the state clients live; (c) relative equity in the capacity to serve client communities in all of their diversity; and (d) relative equity in the investment of civil equal justice resources (federal, state, private, and in-kind/pro bono) throughout the state.
A hallmark of an integrated delivery system is its flexibility to deploy resources in geographic or substantive areas so that quality of services is improved, funds are increased and outcomes for clients are expanded in areas where they are weak. In this context, then, relative equity considers the systemís various capacities throughout the state, from region to region, and directs necessary resources to locales where improvement of any sort is required to assure that all low-income people in the state have similar degrees of access to the full spectrum of equal justice services.
In this program letter we are announcing three strategies to advance LSC's efforts to create comprehensive integrated, coordinated, client-centered state justice communities in each state:
The information received from the field on the State Planning Process and Program Letters 98-1 and 98-6 after publication of these two documents in the Federal Register and input derived from more than two years of on-site engagement by LSC staff and consultants in the field were instrumental in the development of these strategies.
The Creation of a State Planning Team within LSC
LSC's Strategic Plan emphasizes that LSC's State Planning Initiative is our primary strategy for expanding access to and availability of services throughout the United States. To stress the importance of this effort and to facilitate the development of state justice communities, LSC will create a planning team to coordinate our state planning activities. This team will be directly attached to and supervised by the LSC Vice-President for Programs.
A Period of Self-Evaluation by and in Each State Justice Community
We are in a period of significant transition moving from an LSC-centric legal services model to comprehensive, integrated and client-centered state justice communities. We acknowledge that the journey is not over and that significant effort remains to ensure that comprehensive justice communities exist and function within every state and territory. As we move forward with our efforts, we must remain conscious of the need to address several questions of fundamental relevance. These include:
We believe that the next several months are an appropriate time to try to begin to answer these questions. We have been involved in state planning activities for approximately three years, and LSC believes that states need a period of introspection about where they have been and where they are going. Moreover, we can all acknowledge that self-evaluation is a worthwhile and important part of our planning for the creation of comprehensive, integrated, client-centered legal services delivery systems within each state. We are, accordingly, requiring our grantees and requesting that other state planners begin a period of evaluation of their planning efforts and activities over the last three years using the above questions as a framework for the evaluation report. These self-evaluations will inform each state justice community and LSC of what has worked, what has not worked and why, what obstacles stand in planners path, and what steps and support might assist each state to better achieve a comprehensive, integrated, client-centered delivery system that delivers upon the promise of equal justice for all.
Evaluations can be performed by state planners themselves or by outside consultants hired to perform this task. We ask that a single evaluation report for each state be submitted to LSC on or before July 1, 2001 unless LSC has granted your state an extension of time in which to file the report. Please submit your extension requests no later than May 15, 2001, to Robert Gross, Senior Program Counsel for State Planning at LSC. Reports should be no longer that 30 pages (not more than 10 pages single-spaced for each area of inquiry) and should contain the name and telephone number of a contact person(s). Attachments will be accepted as long as they provide additional information that clarifies a particular issue or area of inquiry as identified in the body of the report. The report should assume that the effort to create state justice communities is ongoing and that we do not expect that you have completed your work. Self-evaluation reports should be a candid and honest assessment of the progress that each state has made in creating a comprehensive, integrated and client-centered delivery system as well as of the work that remains to be done. Reports should address the following issues in the order presented:
To what extent has a comprehensive, integrated and client-centered legal services delivery system been achieved in a particular state?
Areas of exploration include:
To what extent have intended outcomes of a comprehensive, integrated client-centered legal service delivery system been achieved including but not limited to service effectiveness/quality; efficiency; equity in terms of client access; greater involvement by members of the private bar in the legal lives of clients, and client-community empowerment?
Areas of exploration include:
Are the best organizational and human resource management configurations and approaches being used?
Areas of exploration include:
Linking State Planning with the Development of New Performance Measurement Tools
Simultaneously with these self-evaluations, LSC will proceed to contract with a private research firm to formally evaluate legal services delivery systems in a selected number of states. LSC plans to select several states that we believe are at important stages of the planning-implementation process for an outside evaluation. If your state is chosen, you will not have to do the self-evaluation discussed in this program letter. Moreover, LSC will provide discretionary grants and/or technical assistance to assist with and help defray any in-kind program costs associated with this project.
The purpose of these evaluations will be to determine whether or not the delivery model in use in the state has effectively implemented the concepts and principles of a comprehensive, integrated and client-centered legal services delivery system. LSC will study the relationship between the structure of the delivery system and desired outcomes as articulated by the selected states in prior planning documents. The findings of these formal evaluations -- together with the material presented in the self-evaluations --will assist LSC and other interested stakeholders in understanding how best to conceptualize, design and deliver comprehensive, integrated and client-centered legal services. We will use this information to begin to develop new performance measurement tools.