Collecting Outcome Data on Limited Services: A Case Study of Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Enhanced Services Project
Limited service cases make up approximately three-quarters of the reported cases closed by LSC grantees in a given year. However, little is currently known about the outcomes of these cases.
Limited service cases are closed with Case Service Report (CSR) Handbook closing codes A (“counsel and advice”) and B (“limited action”). These are cases in which an attorney or case handler provides legal advice or takes some limited action on behalf of a client but does not provide extended legal services. Because there is no extended interaction with these clients, LSC grantees usually do not know if the assistance the client receives is helpful.
In May 2015, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society launched its Enhanced Services Project (ESP) to address this challenge. ESP leverages pro bono attorneys to follow up with clients who receive some type of limited service to provide additional assistance until the client’s issue is resolved and, through this extended engagement, pro bono attorneys learn about and can record the outcomes related to the case.
In addition to providing a mechanism for tracking and documenting outcomes, ESP increases the likelihood of positive outcomes for clients by providing follow-up support.
This case study offers an overview of ESP, focusing on the following topics:
- Program background
- How ESP works
- How outcomes are recorded
- Resources needed for successful implementation
- Benefits of ESP
- Lessons learned from Atlanta Legal Aid’s experience
While not a case study, this recently released handbook from the California State Bar describes their methodology for outcomes tracking and contains numerous examples of forms and reports.
The Cleveland Legal Aid Society uses outcomes measures to more effectively and efficiently meet clients’ needs. Key components of its outcome measures system are highlighted in the following sections:
- Why Cleveland Uses Outcomes Measures
- How Cleveland Developed Its Outcomes Data System
- Major Outcomes Categories and Metrics Cleveland Uses
- Systems Cleveland Uses to Collect, Compile, and Analyze Outcomes Data
- Examples of the Ways Cleveland Uses Outcomes Measures
- Cleveland’s Lessons Learned About Using Outcomes Data
LSC grantees in more than 10 states use similar outcomes measure systems developed by Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) programs, bar foundations, or similar state funders (or “IOLTA” funders).
These IOLTA funders require grantees to collect and report similar types of data, which include outcomes and outputs data as well other quantitative, qualitative, and narrative data. These funders use these data as part of their grantmaking and grant oversight processes.
Grantees have participated in the design and implementation of these data collection and reporting systems to ensure that they were useful for grantees and not unduly burdensome.
Legal Services Corporation of Virginia (LSCV) implemented an outcomes reporting system in 1998. All of its grantees—including six LSC grantees—now use this system. See the sections below to learn about how the LSCV data reporting system and how one of these grantees, Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS), uses the system.