LSC Awards Fourth Round of Pro Bono Innovation Grants to Assist Low-Income Americans

September 21, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that 15 legal aid organizations will receive grants to expand pro bono legal services for low-income clients.

Many of the projects the grants will fund focus on building new partnerships between legal aid programs and law schools, law firms, and other local service providers. The projects will engage more pro bono lawyers and other volunteers, to leverage LSC’s federal funding and  increase the legal resources available to meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans. The projects offer effective, replicable solutions to persistent challenges in current pro bono delivery systems.

For example, Legal Services NYC will use its grant to support its Military Monday project, which brings together corporations, law firms, and legal services to assist low-income veterans. Through a combination of monthly legal clinics and ongoing representation, pro bono attorneys and Legal Services NYC staff will help veterans with pressing legal issues including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Jim Sandman, President of LSC.   “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

The creation of the fund was recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force in 2012. Congress allocated $2.5 million for it in LSC’s FY 2014 appropriation and increased that allocation to $4 million in subsequent years, beginning with LSC’s FY 2015 appropriation.

The recipients of 2017 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants are:

California

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles - $176,379

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, and OneJustice will expand data collection and evaluation tools for California’s Pro Bono Training Institute, a statewide resource for pro bono lawyers assisting low-income people.

California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. - $232,525

California Rural Legal Assistance will enhance its pro bono program by streamlining internal processes expanding external connections to create a detailed inventory of pro bono resources and implementing a training campaign for pro bono lawyers.

Colorado

Colorado Legal Services - $132,416

Colorado Legal Services will expand and improve existing pro bono clinics that focus on connecting urban attorneys with rural communities in need.

Florida

Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. - $307,573

Bay Area Legal Services will collaborate with the Florida Bar on disaster preparedness, including training pro bono volunteers to assist disaster victims with FEMA assistance, insurance claims, ID and document replacement, and other disaster-related issues.

Louisiana

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation - $250,515

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation will enhance its pro bono program by centralizing its volunteer lawyers program and undertaking an in-depth assessment of how it engages in and can improve pro bono activities. 

Massachusetts

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association - $295,822

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association will engage pro bono lawyers to address two significant legal problems —wage theft and unfair debt collection. Partnering with the state Attorney General’s Office, the goal is to provide more assistance to clients, train volunteers to provide effective representation, and create replicable materials to better educate low-income clients about their legal rights.

Community Legal Aid, Inc. - $194,298

Community Legal Aid will develop new resources and expand pro bono assistance in education and employment cases in its medical legal partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center, one of the largest medical providers in the state. The project will include a study of the extent to which improved client health and cost savings can be attributed to legal aid and pro bono efforts.

Missouri

Legal Aid of Western Missouri - $190,420

Legal Aid of Western Missouri will expand its Adopt a Neighborhood program to two more neighborhoods to engage new law firms in pro bono cases. It also plans to improve data collection and continuing legal education for pro bono volunteers.

New Jersey

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey - $299,501

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey will hire a Director of Pro Bono Innovation to perform a comprehensive analysis to improve its pro bono program, seeking input from the client community, courts, attorneys, and service providers in New Jersey and nationally.

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation - $342,034

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation will expand its pro bono program to include volunteers with unique language and cultural skills to assist LEP (Limited English Proficient) clients. The project will strengthen the program’s ability to provide client-centered legal services across all practice areas in a diverse service area.

New York

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. - $272,758

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York will expand its current pro bono eviction defense program to town and village courts. It will staff the City Court Program with a rental housing counselor to meet with tenants after court appearances to provide counseling, referrals, and follow-up services.

Legal Services NYC - $351,387

Legal Services NYC will partner with global law firms and several Fortune 500 companies to provide legal assistance to low-income veterans on matters including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.

Ohio

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland - $165,525

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will increase pro bono efforts by recruiting late-career and retired attorneys to take on a variety of pro bono roles, including as in-house volunteers working alongside staff and as mentors to staff.

Virginia

Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. - $290,283

Legal Services of Northern Virginia will assist veterans in need of discharge upgrades and Veterans Administration disability compensation. The program will begin with “legal check-ups” performed by law students to assess veterans’ legal needs, followed by referrals to volunteer attorneys for further assistance.

Washington

Northwest Justice Project - $298,564

Northwest Justice Project, replicating Atlanta’s highly successful Pro Bono Innovation Fund project, will follow up with clients who received advice and use the results to make improvements in practice and address external barriers to self-represented clients.

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.

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