2021 TIG Award Project Descriptions
This page outlines the 2021 Technology Initiative Grant award descriptions.
In the 2021 cycle, LSC awarded 35 TIGs to 29 legal services organizations totaling over $4 million. Among the grants awarded are several projects that improve online self-help resources. Other projects will increase access to justice for vulnerable populations and improve internal efficiency so that grantees can serve more clients.
Bay Area Legal Services in Tampa, FL, will use TIG funding to develop a web and mobile platform that empowers youth in foster care throughout the state. The tools will help foster youth become their own advocates by increasing awareness of important legal rights – such as education and employment-training benefits -- and informing them of various legal protections that help ensure their safety and wellbeing. The platform will provide foster youth several online self-help tools, including online videos and interactive interviews.
This project will enhance technological competency across attorneys and staff at Community Legal Aid SoCal. The organization will routinely test staff on software applications and systems necessary to effectively serve clients. Based on these assessments, staff and volunteers will receive customized technology trainings that address any deficiencies in their knowledge. The organization will offer these trainings and track staff’s progress through a sophisticated learning management system.
Funding will support an integration between Documate, a legal startup that provides automated document creation, and the widely used LegalServer case management system. The integration will allow attorneys to produce editable family law and public benefits documents based on information previously provided by clients. By creating important legal documents through an automated and expedited process, the program can provide additional legal services to eligible clients and increase the accuracy of its legal assistance.
Kansas Legal Services will create a technology tool that assists domestic violence survivors by offering a secure method of communication between parents who are under court restrictions regarding parenting time exchanges. The text-based communication system helps monitor and deescalate language used between parties and offers a private channel that allows survivors to quickly reach their legal aid advocate. This tool will reduce conflicts while preserving potential evidence for domestic violence attorneys.
NJP will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of client services by enabling their attorneys to share knowledge and resources throughout the organization via a statewide information management system. The organization will hire a knowledge management expert to help create a secure, comprehensive document system in Microsoft SharePoint. They will also collaborate with the University of Washington Information School’s Law Librarian program to ensure that the new system meets the needs of legal aid and pro bono attorneys across the state.
Funding will create a secure, user-friendly coordinated intake and referral system for people facing a civil legal issue in DC. The heart of the system will be a new web application that allows DC residents –either on their own or with the assistance of a trained professional navigator –to locate help from more than fifty organizations providing legal services in the District. Neighborhood Legal Services Program will work closely with access to justice groups and the client community to design a technology solution that is accessible to all DC residents who cannot afford legal assistance.
Northeast Legal Aid will develop a new app to assist low-income tenants facing poor housing conditions. The app will guide tenants through the process of notifying landlords about substandard conditions and give them the tools to bring legal claims in Massachusetts Housing Court if necessary. The app will create a range of customized legal forms, from a demand letter to a temporary restraining order that can be filed with the housing court.
Funding will create a governance structure for the long-term maintenance and ongoing development of the national Legal Navigator tool. Legal Navigator uses artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies to help states guide low-income individuals to the best forms of legal assistance available. The project will also create pathways for new states and partners to utilize Legal Navigator.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii will work with outside experts to redesign its intake system to better utilize technology and ensure that intake is accessible to all eligible residents. The project team will complete a redesign process which not only considers new technologies but also applies design justice principles that focus on the needs of marginalized segments of the client community.
Partners in the state justice community will develop and implement a Virtual Pro Bono Hub (PB Hub) for Ohio’s statewide legal information portal, OhioLegalHelp.org. The PB Hub will be a secure mobile-first pro bono platform that will allow pro bono attorneys to respond to client communications and review and provide one-on-one guidance on court forms that users created with customized software on OhioLegalHelp.org.
Funding will enhance the new JusticeServer Case Management System (CMS) that LSC-funded providers across the state will move to over the next 18 months. Specifically, this grant will build four enhancements to the system to address needs that became critical during the recent pandemic, such as tools that allow advocates to securely obtain and share documents with clients remotely for review and signature. It will also increase pro bono involvement by allowing more programs to participate in the statewide pro bono portal.
The Pro Bono for All project will create a cloud-based pro bono portal that will connect Connecticut attorneys with pro bono opportunities offered by Statewide Legal Services and other legal aid organizations in Connecticut. Organizations will be able to publish case summaries and other volunteer information on the portal to attract new volunteers, and easily contact volunteers whose expertise may fit their needs. Volunteers who visit the portal will be matched automatically with cases and organizations that fit their skills, experience, and location.
Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) will create a new “online front door” website for Montana residents that consolidates all MLSA’s technology services, websites, and tools into one easy-to-use web-based portal. The project will enhance access to both the virtual and in-person services that MLSA offers, while also improving pro bono coordination and referrals across the state.
Funding will enhance Atlanta Legal Aid’s intake and client interview systems to enable staff and volunteers to efficiently conduct centralized intake, screening, and legal advice for family law applicants. Improvements will be developed for both the organization’s online case management system and for GeorgiaLegalConnect.org, a virtual client consultation portal that allows attorneys to connect with clients regardless of their location.
Funding will continue LSC’s support of LawHelp Interactive (LHI), a national document assembly platform used in more than 40 states by over 1 million people last year. LHI is a free service that enables self-represented litigants, legal aid and pro bono lawyers, and self-help programs to create, e-file, and share via email high-quality online forms. LSC funding will contribute to part of core LHI operations, including technology and security maintenance and partner training and support.
Funding will support technology that strengthens the Florida Community Development Legal (FCDL) Project, a statewide legal collaborative that focuses on free and low-cost legal services for lower-income small business owners and other groups that enhance economic opportunities and community services. The project will enhance partner organization’s ability to co-counsel and leverage case data to improve collaboration and the overall delivery of services.
Legal Aid Services of Oregon, in partnership with the Oregon State Bar, Oregon Law Foundation, and Oregon Judicial Department, will develop a new legal information portal for residents across the state. The portal will be the primary online referral site for Oregon residents facing legal issues and provide convenient access to legal information, self-help resources, and legal providers, through a user-centric approach that prioritizes the best legal information and referrals at the outset.
The Digital Triage Hub project seeks to improve the services offered to clients and those looking for legal help when Legal Aid Chicago cannot provide full representation. The hub will serve as a user-friendly triage and intake platform that combines effective case-priority screenings and subsequent follow up with digital self-help tools. The project will focus on increasing legal understanding and improving outcomes among lower-income people facing domestic violence, food stamps, unemployment, bankruptcy, and subsidized housing issues.
Funding will support the production of multi-language, online legal information videos for low-income residents across Tennessee. The project will incorporate technology that works across mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers and meets prevailing website accessibility recommendations. The organization will leverage prior experience producing self-help legal advice products and other explainer videos to guide and inform this effort. They will also partner with organizations across the state to ensure these high-quality videos reach a large audience.
Northwest Justice Project (NJP) will use TIG funding to engage an outside cybersecurity consultant to undertake a comprehensive assessment. The consultant will identify cybersecurity gaps and work with NJP to improve the organization’s cybersecurity posture, ensuring that key systems and information are protected from emerging threats.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) will work with an outside expert to assess and improve security of its technological assets and firm data. It will also develop and deploy a firm-wide technology plan to ensure it maintains stronger security practices in the future. This effort will build upon recommendations made from a pro bono cyber security project currently underway at SLLS.
Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC) will undertake a comprehensive technology assessment and security audit to assess the organization’s overall use of technology, including hardware, software, staffing, security, and support. ALSC will use the assessment and audit recommendations to update its technology plan and develop strategies that will address current gaps and inefficiencies, respond to immediate technology needs, and create steps to achieve long-term technology goals that will improve ALSC’s use of technology throughout the program.
East River Legal Services (ERLS) will retain the services of an independent consultant to perform a technology assessment and security audit. Upon the completion of the assessment, the consultant will assist ERLS staff and its technology support contractors in the development and implementation of a technology improvement plan.
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida (CLSMF) will use TIG funding to expand its existing information security efforts and protect the organization against the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks. The effort will include the drafting and adoption of security policies, an audit of current technology usage and needs, and the development and implementation of a staff training plan.
Funding will support a full technology assessment of the communications systems that Kansas Legal Services utilizes across the state. The organization will engage an expert evaluator to help analyze their needs and choose high-value vendors for the new systems. This project will ultimately enable KLS to provide more beneficial services and accommodate new communication needs such as text messaging.
The project will consist of a technology assessment and information security audit to address the organization’s technology infrastructure needs and ensure that they are protected against emerging cyber threats. Legal Aid of Western Michigan will engage an outside consultant with experience improving security and increasing efficiency through technology.
Funding will allow 603 Legal Aid to conduct a security audit to detect vulnerabilities, enhance security, and implement appropriate policies to protect against cyberattacks. The project will also allow 603 Legal Aid, which recently merged with the state’s pro bono organization, to complete an assessment of its current technology infrastructure and eliminate duplicative or inefficient systems.
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) will conduct a thorough audit of the organization’s IT security hardware, software, and protocols and establish a roadmap for improving its security posture. In addition, funding will be used to conduct strategic technology planning to improve the general technology environment at SMRLS.
Legal Aid Society (LAS) will conduct a comprehensive technology needs assessment to identify opportunities for improvements and investments in client access to services. This needs assessment and the resulting action plan will enable LAS to better understand the barriers that the low-income community currently faces and determine what technological innovations will broaden the organization’s impact and effectiveness.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) will conduct a comprehensive IT assessment and create a technology improvement plan for its use of technology across the state. This assessment will focus on PTLA’s general IT infrastructure and their security practices to ensure the organization uses technology to operate efficiently and effectively.
Blue Ridge Legal Services will use TIP funding to conduct a full technology assessment and IT security audit to identify opportunities for improvements and investments. This will enable the organization to increase its impact and effectiveness, allowing Blue Ridge Legal Services to help more people in a timely fashion.
Land of Lincoln Legal Aid will conduct a technology assessment to review their current IT architecture and generate a useable technology improvement roadmap, including plans to enhance cybersecurity. This effort will help the organization further establish technology as a core competency necessary to maintain and improve service delivery to clients.
Legal Aid Chicago will engage an outside expert to audit the cybersecurity controls for the organization and better protect it from cyberthreats. The audit will identify weaknesses in existing systems and establish clear, concrete targets for improving security. The final product will be a security audit report that establishes new policies to protect the organization and strategies for the purchase and use of security products.
Community Legal Aid Services (CLAS) will perform a full technology and security assessment to determine areas where staff need training, equipment/software weaknesses, and a roadmap to improve its technology and security posture. This project ensures that CLAS will have the technology in place to reach more people and have a stronger impact in the communities it serves.
Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) will work with an outside expert to assess its information technology environment and determine how it can continue to improve its technology to better serve clients, support advocates, and increase overall efficiency. In addition, NLSA intends to perform a security audit to identify any risks and vulnerabilities in its technology systems so that it can deploy enhanced security practices.