LSC Awards Nearly $3.5 Million in 2014 Technology Grants to Legal Aid Organizations
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today released a list of 38 projects nationwide that will receive Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) funding in 2014.
The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including user-friendly online tools for women veterans, mobile delivery of legal services for clients using text messaging, and video-conferencing technology that reaches low-income clients in rural areas.
Since its start in 2000, LSC’s TIG program has funded 570 technology projects totaling more than $46 million.
With this funding, legal aid organizations have built a network of websites serving both attorneys and clients nationwide, developed easy-to-use online forms, incorporated video technology into service delivery, and enhanced support for pro bono lawyers.
“This latest round of grants continues LSC’s history of leadership in expanding access to justice through innovations in technology,” said LSC president James J. Sandman. “The grants reflect the creativity and resourcefulness of legal aid programs in using technology to get assistance to people when and where they need it.”
Examples of 2014 TIG projects:
$182,445 to the Legal Aid Society to 1) create KY Justice Online, a web-based, tiered approach to pro-bono assistance utilizing librarians and volunteer attorneys. The project will enhance legal resources and remove barriers to access to justice for low-income Kentuckians by offering more convenient forms of online assistance and 2) develop a secure, enterprise-level information management system through Microsoft SharePoint 2013 that will expand the organization’s capacity to provide client services while improving case managers’ efficiency and quality of work.
$138,139 to Pine Tree Legal Assistance to 1) support expansion of the national veteran’s legal assistance website, Stateside Legal, and develop new user-friendly tools specifically for women veterans in need of legal help, and 2) develop web-based expert systems involving key legal issues associated with debt collection defense in Maine. These systems will be made accessible to both unrepresented litigants and legal aid staff.
Senator Angus S. King, Jr. said: "Pine Tree Legal Assistance provides critical legal support to low-income people across Maine who otherwise would have a difficult time affording the counsel and advice that they need. These grants will play a vital role in helping bolster the organization as it continues to provide high-quality legal services and further expands its reach in support of our women veterans."
Senator Susan Collins said: “Pine Tree Legal Assistance has been providing indispensable legal services to Mainers for many years. The generous LSC grant to expand online and web-based legal services will provide tailored assistance to Maine’s population of female veterans and increase access for the unrepresented.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01) said: “This is important funding because it will help Maine people connect with legal aid in new and innovative ways through the use of technology. And I'm especially glad that these funds will help two groups of Maine people who often go without the legal assistance they need – women veterans and people who find themselves the target of a debt collector.”
$91,400 to Legal Aid of Nebraska to create a Virtual Access to Justice Self-Help Center that will serve as a technological hub for pro bono and assisted self-representation in remote Nebraska counties defined by the state bar association as “rural legal shortage areas."
$725,200 to Ohio State Legal Services Association to support and enhance LawHelp Interactive (LHI), the national online document assembly service, to provide support to legal services, court, pro bono, and law school programs in more than 40 states. Funds will also support the fine-tuning of LHI performance following the launch of newly re-architected system and continue to support the adoption of online forms by new partners.
Senator Sherrod Brown said: “Ohioans have a right to high-quality legal counsel. Ohio’s legal aid organizations are leading the way in making sure that all have access to equal justice under the law, and this grant will support the work they already do by improving information sharing and increasing efficiency to better serve all Ohioans.”
Senator Rob Portman said: “LawHelp Interactive gives Ohioans and people across the country easy and understandable access to important legal services. I am pleased that the Legal Services Corporation has awarded this funding to the Ohio State Legal Services Association so that it can continue and improve the services LawHelp Interactive provides to people in need.”
$78,862 to Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands to use advanced videoconferencing technology to extend the program's reach to potential clients within its rural service area while also connecting staff and pro bono attorneys across the organization.
$494,200 to: 1) Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to create a cloud-based software application called JusticeServer that will improve case management for legal aid and pro bono attorneys; 2) Legal Services of Northern Virginia to create the Virginia Legal Aid Help 2 Go Project, which will use text messaging to guide users to a mobile friendly website that offers a series of video vignettes on family, consumer and housing law matters in both English and Spanish; and 3) Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. to automate the telephone intake system to assess the type of service needed by the caller, route the caller to the most appropriate service, and prioritize case types and assemble data into the intake fields of the case management system.
Senator Tim Kaine said: “I’m happy to see that Legal Services Corp. awarded almost $500,000 in grants to three legal aid offices in Virginia. The grants will help implement much-needed technology upgrades to better serve Virginians seeking to access and navigate the legal system. With this new technology, dedicated legal aid staff will have the resources they need to coordinate casework, communicate with clients, and educate the public in both English and Spanish.”
Senator Mark Warner said: “Congratulations to the awardees of the Legal Services Corporation technology initiative grants. Technological innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial to moving our country forward. I want to thank these legal aid start-ups as well as the Legal Services Corporation for their efforts to provide critical services to all Virginians.”
Bay Area Legal Aid - $168, 324
Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. - $104,756
Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc. - $138,139
Legal Assistance of Western New York - $195, 527
Ohio State Legal Services Association - $725,200
Virginia (Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc., Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc., Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.) - $494, 200
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.