LSC Awards More Than $4.2 Million in 2015 Technology Grants to Legal Aid Organizations

November 4, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that 30 organizations nationwide will receive Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) funding in 2015.

The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including developing a website with special resources for seniors and domestic violence victims; creating a hotline for family and housing law advice that can be accessed by text message; and implementing a videoconferencing system to conduct remote client interviews and provide informational videos. 


Since its inception in 2000, LSC’s TIG program has awarded 644 grants for a total of more than $53 million.

With this funding, legal aid organizations have incorporated video technology into service delivery, enhanced support for pro bono lawyers, created user-friendly online tools for women veterans, and ensured mobile delivery of legal services for clients using text messaging.

“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants expand access to justice for millions of Americans who cannot afford a lawyer,” said LSC President James J. Sandman. “The grants make legal information, court forms, video instruction, and practical tips available to people who otherwise would have to navigate the legal system alone.”

Examples of 2015 TIG projects: 

CALIFORNIA

$152,200 to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Inc. to develop an online dispute resolution and mediation portal for small claims cases to simplify access for self-represented litigants. This pilot project seeks to save time and expense for both the litigants and the court by using remote communication through a neutral platform or mediator to reach an agreement or, should the parties end up at trial, increase their preparedness.  

Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA-38) said: "The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is an important part of our community, providing free and low-cost civil legal services to low-income families, individuals and senior citizens. I thank Legal Services Corporation for their support of LASOC. This grant award will go a long way to help expand LASOC’s critical legal resources to communities in Orange and Southeast Los Angeles Counties who face significant challenges when appearing in court without an attorney."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) said: “The Legal Aid Society of Orange County has been an integral part of my district for nearly 50 years, and I congratulate them on receiving the FY 2015 Technology Initiative Grant to develop an online dispute resolution and mediation portal. I thank the Legal Services Corporation for providing this grant to further assist the public with legal resources and tools.”

MASSACHUSETTS 

$137,200 to the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association to enhance mobile access to pro bono resources in the state. The project will design, test, and model new approaches to delivering substantive resources for volunteer lawyers, as well as develop new mobile technologies and content models that can be replicated nationally. 

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-4) said: “Lack of access to legal representation leaves too many low-income Americans on unequal footing in our justice system. When so many of those families have nowhere else to turn, the Volunteer Lawyers Project offers a guiding hand and ensures our Commonwealth and country make good on the promise of equal protection under the law. This grant will help even more people across Massachusetts benefit from the tireless work of their pro bono lawyers, and I look forward to working with them in the future to expand access to legal aid even further.”

Rep. Bill Keating (MA-9) said: “Pro bono work is one of the most rewarding things you can do as an attorney, and as a former District Attorney, I know just how critical the services provided by the Volunteer Lawyers Project are to so many. This grant will allow the project to expand its access so that fair, competent representation is available to those who need it making everyone truly equal in the eyes of the law.”

TEXAS 

$130,438 to Lone Star Legal Aid to develop the Texas Interactive Forms Project that will include plain-language, step-by-step guided interviews to complete electronic court forms. More than 100 forms will be automated during the two-year project to improve access for self-represented litigants. 

Rep. Al Green (TX-9) said: “Today’s legal system has become increasingly difficult to afford and maneuver. It is practices like Lone Star Legal Aid, who provide free legal services to low-income individuals, that make a difference to so many in our community. Providing resources to such a deserving firm will help the many in our community seeking legal help.”

WASHINGTON

$505,660 to Northwest Justice Project to create mobile-compatible, web-based legal education videos that will be accessible for others to replicate. The grant will also fund improvements to the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project by supporting a core collection of services and resources, providing one-on-one guidance on a variety of legal technologies, and helping other legal services programs replicate various TIG-funded technologies.

Senator Patty Murray said: “Too many people in our state have no one to turn to when it comes to navigating the justice system, and this grant will work to change that,” said Senator Patty Murray. “By improving access to the legal technologies and critical services provided by Northwest Justice Project, thousands of low-income individuals will have legal assistance when they need it most. I congratulate Northwest Justice Project and thank its staff for their tireless efforts.” 

Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-1) said: “Northwest Justice Project in Washington’s First District embodies the goal of ensuring access to justice for all. It’s fitting that the Legal Services Corporation decided to fund their innovative projects to create online educational videos and legal resources for low-income Washingtonians. Investment in civil legal aid is one of the most effective ways to help Americans navigate the judicial system. Congratulations Northwest Justice Project for receiving these well-deserved grants.”

Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-2) said: “The Northwest Justice Project provides critical access to legal services for people who can least afford it to help them maintain stable housing and affordable health care, as well as fulfill other basic needs. With this grant, NJP will be able to use technology in innovative ways to continue breaking down barriers so all people can participate in our economy and our democracy.”

Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6) said: “It’s important that our judicial system is accessible to all citizens. Whether you are dealing with foreclosure or fraud folks should be able to get the legal services they need to protect their interests. That’s why Congress and the Legal Services Corporation are awarding Technology Initiative Grants to groups like the Northwest Justice Project to support innovative methods that help people better access justice.”  

Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9) said: “Legal aid programs provide critical support to low income individuals by offering civil legal assistance in cases involving basic human needs. In our community, Northwest Justice Project (NJP) operates 17 locations, as well as a legal help hotline known as CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral). I was pleased to see that this year NJP received a grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for a Technology Initiative Grant. I have been a strong supporter of the LSC throughout my time in Congress and I look forward to seeing these critical funds expand access to justice for those who need it the most.”


WEST VIRGINIA

$90,600 to Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc. to create six online interactive training classrooms and toolkits to assist private volunteer attorneys serve clients. The project will include videos, document assembly forms, client interview guides, and tip sheets. The goal of the project is to increase the quality and quantity of training available to pro bono attorneys to improve the effectiveness of LAWV’s statewide pro bono system.

Senator Joe Manchin said: “Many West Virginians turn to Legal Aid West Virginia when they find themselves in need of legal assistance. This grant will fund an important goal of improving legal services to our residents. By providing enhanced training and resources to our state’s volunteer attorneys, this grant will make a difference to thousands of individuals and families in our state who seek valuable legal help.”

Rep. Evan Jenkins (WV-3) said:  “Legal Services Corporation’s grant will help more attorneys provide pro bono legal aid for our state’s most vulnerable. Our low-income and disabled residents and veterans are often those most in need of help from legal aid services, and they deserve access to legal counsel and advice. I thank LSC for investing in West Virginia and will continue to support their efforts to help our state.”

Click here to see full list of 2015 TIG Award recepients and project descriptions

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.