LSC Awards Nearly $4 Million in Technology Grants to Legal Aid Organizations
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today announced 25 Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) to 22 legal services organizations in 18 states.
Established in 2000, the TIG program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance for low-income Americans. Each year, the program distributes up to $4 million to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. LSC grantees use TIG funding to explore new ways of serving eligible clients, to build the programs' capacities, and to support the efforts of pro bono attorneys.
“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants expand access to justice for millions of Americans who cannot afford a lawyer,” explained LSC President Jim 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 without any help.”
Among the 25 funded initiatives are projects to create interactive legal forms for self-represented litigants, to enhance an online statewide “access portal” with a chatbot feature and to produce online resources for veterans and military families confronting legal problems.
The 2017 TIG projects are:
Bay Area Legal Services will receive $136,705 to enhance legal aid websites to make them more accessible for disabled clients and to make them more user-friendly on mobile devices, the primary means by which low-income people access the internet.
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida will receive $160,888 to add artificial intelligence to the online client intake process. Any consumer issues that clients are facing will be automatically flagged for legal services staff.
Legal Services of North Florida will receive $89,726 to create an e-learning platform and develop a training incubator program to help legal aid lawyers serve their clients more efficiently and effectively.
Atlanta Legal Aid Society will receive $134,720 to address accessibility and readability issues on the national LawHelp.org legal aid website. The program will also make improvements to the website GeorgiaLegalAid.org.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii will receive $102,103 to make legal information on the statewide website available in three different languages to assist the state’s growing limited English proficiency client population.
Kansas Legal Services will receive $159,110 to develop five instructional videos to guide self-represented litigants and add a "live-chat" feature within automated legal forms. This feature allows self-represented litigants to receive on-demand support as they complete the form preparation process online.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation will receive $68,119 to upgrade LouisianaLawHelp.org to increase the overall usability of the site and make it mobile accessible.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation will receive an additional $35,000 to develop automated online forms and guides for consumer debt and divorce cases.
Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association will receive $69,250 to develop user-friendly, web-based guided interviews and legal document assembly tools to assist self-represented litigants.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance will receive $175,250 to improve the design and content of StateSideLegal.org, the first website in the nation to focus exclusively on veterans' federal legal rights and resources.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance will receive an additional $86,000 to improve its statewide legal website to implement the recommendations made in LSC’s Ford Foundation-funded evaluation of statewide legal aid websites.
Michigan Advocacy Program will receive $209,825 to support improvements to A2J Author, a national document assembly platform for clients, which uses plain-language interview questions to help clients complete court forms.
Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota Corporation will receive $153,500 to improve its statewide legal aid website by enhancing the usability of the site and adding resources and text in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.
Montana Legal Services Association will receive $221,995 to enhance the program's medical-legal partnership by combining data from electronic health records and legal cases systems to better track client health outcomes and conduct more comprehensive legal screenings.
Montana Legal Services Association will receive an additional $86,250 to improve the MontanaLawHelp.org website by adding plain language readability and creating style guides to ensure best practices for future online content.
New Mexico Legal Aid will receive $143,478 to create interactive, online tools to assist junior staff, pro bono attorneys, and paralegals in providing fast and effective legal assistance to clients.
Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee will receive $104,250 to improve the LawHelpNY.org website by enhancing navigability and accessibility of resources and referral information, adapting content to better meet the needs of Long Island clients, and improving listings of available resources and referrals.
Ohio State Legal Services will receive $751,250 to enhance LawHelp Interactive, a website that allows low-income people without access to a lawyer to prepare their own legal forms online. It is also used by pro bono and legal aid attorneys seeking to work more efficiently. Legal aid programs nationwide will be able to manage and run their own reports in order to improve their reporting and management capacities.
Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center will receive $165,250 to develop a cloud-based application to guide self-represented, low-income bankruptcy clients in filing Chapter 7 claims with limited attorney involvement.
West Tennessee Legal Services will receive $229,191 to enhance the statewide portal, HELP4TN.org, by developing a chatbot that interacts online with users to guide them through the process of finding legal resources and delivers legal forms based on user-provided information.
Legal Services Law Line of Vermont will receive $145,114 to improve the VTLawHelp.org website by developing functionality that enhances the user experience for disabled individuals and increases access through mobile devices.
Legal Services of Northern Virginia will receive $97,750 to develop guided interview questions to improve the intake process for its online case management system
Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society will receive $115,250 to develop new interactive forms for self-represented litigants on the statewide website, VALegalAid.org. The type of legal forms created will be based on local priorities and include input from the Virginia Access to Justice Commission and others in the justice community.
Northwest Justice Project will receive $185,250 to establish an automated document assembly system for nearly 200 state family law forms.
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 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.