2013 TIG Categories and Areas of Interest

LSC will accept projects in two application categories:

  1. Innovations and Improvements
  2. Replication and Adaptation

Grant Category 1: Innovations and Improvements

The Innovations and Improvements Category is designated for projects that: (1) implement new or innovative approaches for using technology in legal services or  (2) enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of existing technologies so that they may be better used to increase the quality and quantity of services to clients.  Although there is no funding limit or matching requirement for applications in this category, additional weight is given to projects with strong support from partners. Proposals for initiatives with broad applicability and/or that would have impact throughout the legal services community are strongly encouraged. For applications that do not have broad applicability or impact, LSC will carefully consider the amount of the request and the benefits to the relevant stakeholders.

Grant Category 2: Replication and Adaptation

The Replication and Adaptation category is for proposals that seek to replicate, adapt, or provide added value to the work of prior TIG projects. To leverage TIG funds, LSC has always stressed that grants be replicable. LSC requires that any software developed with TIG funding be available to other legal services programs at little or no cost. In  2013, LSC will continue to use a Replication Category to focus on the implementation and improvement of tested methodologies and technologies from previous TIG projects. Replication and adaptation of prior TIG projects may include, but are not limited to:

A: Replication of Previous TIG Projects

During the past thirteen years of TIG funding, there have been many successes. A list of examples of replicable projects and final reports can be found at http://tig.lsc.gov/grants/final-reports/final-report-samples-replicable-projects. Applicants should look to previous successful TIG projects and determine how they could be replicated at a reduced cost from the original project, and/or how they could be built upon and enhanced. Projects where software or content has already been created lend themselves to replication. Since any software developed through the TIG program is available to all LSC recipients at little or no cost, look to these projects to see how they could benefit the delivery systems in your state.

B: Automated Form Replication

LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is now deployed in 41 states. There are over 3,000 active HotDocs templates being hosted on the LawHelp Interactive National HotDocs Server at https://lawhelpinteractive.org. While there are differences from state to state in the content and format, many of these forms can be edited for use in other jurisdictions with less effort, hence a lower cost, than starting from scratch.

In addition to these templates, the server hosts more than 1,000 A2J interviews to gather the information needed to complete the templates. Even if a form differs from one state to another, the information needed to populate the form will, for the most part, be the same. (What are the names of the plaintiff, the defendant, the children, etc.) This means the interviews are more easily replicated than templates.

All of these templates and interviews are available to be modified as needed. Applicants should identify which forms and templates are to be adapted, and then estimate the cost to do this and how much that would save over doing them from scratch.

LHI has the capacity to support Spanish language interviews and assemblies, and recently added support for Vietnamese and Mandarin interviews. LHI will be adding support for Korean interviews in 2013. For additional information, including examples, best practices, models and training materials, see the LawHelp Interactive Resource Center, hosted by Pro Bono Net at http://www.probono.net/dasupport (you may need to request a free membership to access this website).


Areas of Interest

LSC welcomes applications for a wide variety of projects. For  2013, LSC has three areas of particular interest in which programs are encouraged to submit proposals for innovative technology approaches. The designation of these areas does not in any way limit the scope of proposals which LSC will consider. The  2013 areas of particular interest are:

A. Key Initiatives from LSC’s 2012-2013 Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice.

  • Document Assembly – See Grant Category 2: Replication and Adaptation
  • Remote Service Delivery – Remote delivery of legal services can reduce the costs of connecting attorneys and paralegals to clients and improve the likelihood that low-income people will receive high-quality legal assistance regardless of their location. Additionally, Americans have become more accustomed to online service delivery in areas such as banking, shopping, and support services. Recognizing this change, LSC seeks proposals to develop new and creative systems that would promote the delivery of remote legal services efficiently and effectively. It encourages organizations to explore private bar innovations -- such as virtual law office (VLO) platforms -- and advances seen in the medical field, where providers increasingly utilize patient portals and telemedicine in their practices.
  • Mobile Technologies – Services and assistance that can be delivered to or using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. For many clients, a cellphone may be their only dedicated Internet access point and is likely the technology with which they are most familiar. According to a 2012 Pew survey, this is particularly true for people “under the age of 30, Black and Latino users, and people with lower income and education levels.” Proposals could address the use of text messaging, responsive web designs to deliver content to mobile devices,  specialized apps or tools for use on smartphones or ways to better integrate the use of mobile technologies in the delivery of legal services by advocates.
  • Expert Systems and Checklists – “Expert systems” emulate the decision-making ability of human experts. In legal services, these systems can be used to help self-represented litigants navigate an unfamiliar legal process or support legal services professionals by augmenting existing systems and practice tools. Such systems can be envisioned for a wide variety of topics including, for example, benefits entitlement, identification of necessary forms and procedures, alternative approaches to problem solutions, and preventive law. One subset of expert systems, dynamic, interactive checklists, guide clients and advocates through the steps in processes such as initiating or responding to court actions and dealing with government agencies. Expert system applications include those that assist lawyers in analyzing complex but recurring fact/law situations; thus prompting collection of all relevant information and provision of a tentative legal rights diagnoses. To learn more about the use of expert systems and see some examples, you may go to: http://tig.lsc.gov/guidance-expert-systems.
  • Triage – Triage systems are online assessment tools used to direct users to the most appropriate available resources to address their legal needs. These systems ask the user questions to determine such factors as the level of assistance needed, the abilities of the user, and whether or not any opposing party is represented. Using logic built into the system by the designers, the user is then directed to the most appropriate resource available. (These resources may include self-help materials on a website, the legal aid program’s intake portal (online or hotline), or a referral to a pro bono project, court self-help center, government agency, or a social services organization.)  So that the service options will be as broad as possible, ideally such a system will be a collaboration among as many access to justice partners as possible, such as legal aid programs, the courts, and the private bar. 

B. Leveraging Technology to Increase Pro Bono Attorney and Law Student Involvement. Engagement of pro bono attorneys is a valuable and essential resource for increasing the supply of advocates and meeting the increased demand for provision of legal services to low income persons.  Many state justice communities have urged attorneys to get more involved in pro bono efforts, and some have suggested that particular categories of attorneys, such as retiring or retired lawyers, in-house counsel  and recent graduates, are well-poised to expand access to justice in their states. In addition, many law students have a strong interest in providing legal help to those in need. As discussed in LSC’s recently released Report of the Pro Bono Task Force, information technology can play an important role in recruiting pro bono attorneys and law students and providing them the tools necessary to effectively meet the legal needs of clients. LSC seeks proposals for projects that leverage creative uses of technology to enhance pro bono attorney and law student involvement.

C. Use of Data to Analyze Service Delivery and Develop Advocacy Strategies. Recipients are increasingly recognizing that more effective use of a wide range of data can enable them to better identify: 1) current and emerging needs of their client communities; 2) patterns of service delivery by case type, level of service or demographics of clients; and 3) outcomes achieved for clients. Data analysis can assist in developing specially tailored advocacy and service delivery strategies that more effectively address the most pressing legal needs and achieve the greatest outcomes for clients.  Valuable data are available from a range of federal, state and local government agencies, as well as academic institutions, policy groups and other non-profits.  LSC encourages initiatives that enable recipients, by themselves or in partnership with other entities, to use technologies to more readily identify, compile and employ data in ways that improve the responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency of services provided to clients. LSC also encourages projects that systematically evaluate and document the ways and extent to which technologies funded through TIG and other sources affect the quality and quantity of client services and/or the effectiveness and efficiency of program operations. The focus of such analyses might include, but are not limited to, pro se forms and resources, mobile applications, intake systems, and video-conferencing.