LSC Awards Nearly $4 Million in Technology Grants to Legal Aid Organizations

October 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that it is awarding 26 Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) to 24 legal services organizations in 21 states for a total of $3,884,257. 

The TIG program funds projects that use technology to provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance for low-income Americans. Established in 2000, the program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations around the country. LSC has funded more than 700 technology projects totally more than $60 million. LSC grantees use this funding to explore new ways of serving eligible clients, strengthen program capacity, and support the efforts of pro bono attorneys.

“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants increase access to justice for low-income people with critical civil legal needs,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “These technology projects improve the delivery of legal services and make a difference to the millions of Americans who would otherwise have to navigate the legal system alone.”

Among the 26 funded initiatives are projects that enhance online self-help resources, expand services to rural communities, and facilitate clients’ ability to seek legal help via text messaging services and voice assistants like Google’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

The 2018 TIG projects are: 

ALABAMA

Legal Services Alabama

Legal Services Alabama will receive $26,999 to strengthen its capacity to serve clients. The program will undertake a comprehensive technological assessment and develop a strategy to address its immediate technology needs and long-term goals.

ALASKA

Alaska Legal Services Corporation

Alaska Legal Services Corporation will receive $179,879 to streamline communication with people in need of civil legal assistance. The project will enhance the electronic client referral system for states piloting Legal Navigator portals—an initiative launched by LSC, Microsoft, and Pro Bono Net to direct individuals with civil legal needs to the most appropriate forms of assistance.

CALIFORNIA

Central California Legal Services

Central California Legal Services will receive $27,000 to maximize its use of technology for client service. An expert will help conduct an inventory of the organization’s existing software and hardware, identify gaps and inefficiencies in current technology use, develop recommendations, and establish a training protocol to ensure effective use of technology.

Inland Counties Legal Services

Inland Counties Legal Services will receive $27,000 to create a strategic decision-making guide for technology projects. The organization will hire an industry leader to help staff evaluate the quality of the organization’s legal technology products and provide an assessment of potential technology enhancements.  

COLORADO

Colorado Legal Services

Colorado Legal Services will receive $58,762 to develop a mobile chat system powered by artificial intelligence. The system will provide unrepresented debtors with access to useful legal information and services when creditors sue them. The organization will also produce an online court form for individuals defending a collection lawsuit.

A second grant of $25,400 will allow Colorado Legal Services to undertake an assessment of the organization’s overall use of technology. The goal is to prioritize improvements that will directly aid clients, including network infrastructure, internet services, security and privacy protections, staff technology training, remote data accessing, and mobile device usage.

FLORIDA

Legal Services of Greater Miami

Legal Services of Greater Miami will receive $144,862 to enhance Florida’s statewide online client intake and legal triage system by integrating two partner agencies: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida and Legal Services of North Florida. This project will also add tools to ensure the efficiency of online client applications for assistance, including an improved referral system and the use of artificial intelligence to automatically review key client information.

Legal Services of North Florida

Legal Services of North Florida will receive $186,402 to facilitate access to higher quality search results for people seeking legal help. The project will improve results on major search engines like Google and Bing, as well as results from voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

HAWAII

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii will receive $62,000 to enhance access to legal aid services through search engines and voice-assistant queries like Apple's Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. In partnership with Stanford Law School's Legal Design Lab, the organization will pilot methods to protect people from accessing low-quality, potentially predatory legal websites.

ILLINOIS

Legal Assistance Foundation

Legal Assistance Foundationwill receive $266,000 to leverage artificial intelligence to upgrade the IllinoisLegalAid.org website and improve legal services organizations’ client intake.

INDIANA

Indiana Legal Services

Indiana Legal Services will receive $27,000 to develop a roadmap for an enhanced statewide legal information website. The project seeks to improve the client referral system by offering self-help forms and a broad range of legal guidance. The grant will also fund sharpening online triage tools used for prioritizing client needs, with assistance from Microsoft.

KENTUCKY

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass will receive $26,000 to assess and upgrade its technology systems. The focus will be on revamping its case management system, communications platforms, and document management tools.

MAINE

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Pine Tree Legal Assistance will receive $100,495 to enhance Maine’s statewide, online legal triage website by improving the accessibility of self-help information and legal referrals for users. This project will explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify users’ experience, especially when they have limited knowledge of legal concepts. It will connect users to the most accurate resources available to help them. A "chatbot" will allow AI to interact with users while also ensuring their privacy.

MASSACHUSETTS

Community Legal Aid

Community Legal Aid will receive $140,500 to improve the accessibility and functionality of the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder. The Resource Finder provides people seeking legal help with targeted contact information for legal aid programs, government agencies, and court programs. It also provides relevant legal information and self-help materials.

MONTANA

Montana Legal Services Association

Montana Legal Services Association will receive $146,104 to extend the reach of the Montana Court Self Help Program to 11 rural communities. The project will place technology in remote locations across Montana to connect residents to self-help law centers in more populated sections of the state.

A second grant for $132,610 will allow the organization to introduce artificial intelligence-powered legal tools through a new online pro bono legal advice platform, AskKarla.org. This will help clients properly frame their legal issues and access relevant resources. 

NEW YORK

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley will receive $72,000 to implement Microsoft’s SharePoint Online program, an organization-wide knowledge management system. The project will facilitate access for all staff across all offices and make client services more efficient. 

NORTH CAROLINA

Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina will receive $182,000 to continue developing the A2J Author document assembly product, cloud-based software that helps self-represented litigants prepare court forms and other legal documents. The project will expand the availability of user-friendly legal forms for North Carolinians facing civil legal issues.

OHIO

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will receive $209,750 to help better assess the impact of legal assistance that is limited to brief engagement with clients rather than full representation. The project builds on an existing program that uses automated text message exchanges with clients to study outcomes resulting from brief service.

Ohio State Legal Services Association  

Ohio State Legal Services Association will receive $783,000 to support outreach, operations, training, and improvements for LawHelp Interactive (LHI). LHI is the national online document assembly initiative used by more than 40 states to provide reliable and secure online forms that help legal aid lawyers, pro bono programs, and those without lawyers create online forms. 

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center

Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center will receive $212,000 to expand software tools on the Upsolve.org system. Upsolve helps individuals who cannot afford an attorney to complete Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings. Enhancements will include streamlining the bankruptcy questionnaire and improving Upsolve’s operation on mobile devices.

TENNESSEE

West Tennessee Legal Services

West Tennessee Legal Services will receive $120,272 to create an organization-wide knowledge information system through Microsoft’s SharePoint Online program. The project will mitigate the challenges of delivering legal services in rural areas by facilitating collaboration among staff across all four offices and providing a technology-based framework to improve remote staff supervision.

UTAH

Utah Legal Services

Utah Legal Services will receive $308,047 to employ artificial intelligence to create an online application and client-referral process through the LegalServer Case Management System. The system will guide users seeking legal help through the process of identifying their legal issues and help match them with the right resources for them.

VIRGINIA

Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Legal Services of Northern Virginia will receive $104,000 to create online visual guides to teach users how to navigate complex civil legal issues such as housing and consumer law. The guides will work on mobile devices.

WASHINGTON

Northwest Justice Project 

Northwest Justice Project will receive $267,175 to add new components to LSNTAP.org, a national technology support resource for the national legal aid community. This grant will also support a technology training webinar series and in-depth technology guides.

WYOMING

Legal Aid of Wyoming

Legal Aid of Wyoming will receive $27,000 to plan a new online intake process to better serve clients across the state. The goal is to make services more acc

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.