Resources and Information Specifically Focused on the Use of Outcomes Data by Legal Services Programs

Legal Services Corporation: 

  • Model Practices & Innovations. The “Evaluations & Adjustments” section of LSC’s Best Practices Corner has a selection of resources regarding the use of outcomes measures by LSC grantees and other legal services programs.
  • LSC Summit on Performance Measures: Assessing Quality and Measuring Results. Materials from LSC’s Outcomes Summit II on June 24-26, 2004.” This summit was convened by LSC, the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Clinic, and the Bellows-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project at Harvard Law School. Materials include a summit report as well as papers prepared for the event.

The Resource for Great Programs provides strategic support and technical assistance to civil legal services programs and other networks of community-based organizations. It supported the establishment of the outcomes reporting systems used by IOLTA funders in Virginia and New York, and has worked with other state funders of civil legal aid and legal services programs around the country on program evaluation, the economic impact of legal aid, and other issues.

Like Virginia, the California State Bar has a set of outcomes reporting requirements for IOLTA-funded programs in the state. 

Jeffrey Selbin, Jeanne Charn, Anthony Alfieri, and Stephen Wizner, Service Delivery, Resource Allocation, and Access to Justice: Greiner and Pattanayak and The Research Imperative, 122 YALE L. J. ONLINE 45 (2012). The authors call for legal services lawyers and clinical law professors to conduct extensive empirical research concerning the efficacy of various “access to justice” strategies. They argue that this research can inform service delivery approaches and resource allocation within legal aid programs, providing crucial information at a time when demand for legal services is growing, while supply is shrinking. 

Ken Smith, Barbara Finkelstein, and Christopher O’Malley, “Economic Impacts of Legal Aid” (Management Information Exchange Journal, Fall 2011). This article discusses the economic benefits that legal services representation provides the general public, profiles the ways three New York legal services programs used these economic benefits data to expand their funding at a time when state and local government budgets were badly strained, and suggests strategies for measuring the economic effects of legal aid outcomes and presenting this information persuasively to potential funders. 

Resources on evaluation and outcomes measurement for nonprofit organizations

The Bureau of Justice Assistance Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Measurement provides “user-friendly online evaluation and performance measurement tool designed to assist state and local criminal justice planners, practitioners, State Administrative Agencies, researchers, and evaluators in: 1) conducting evaluations and performance measurement that will address the effectiveness and efficiency of their projects and 2) using evaluation information to improve program planning and implementation.” Its resources include basic outcome evaluation and comparative outcome evaluation.

Authenticity Consulting, LLC. has published very useful online evaluation tools and other management resources for nonprofit organizations. These include: 

The Innovation Network provides training, technical assistance, and other services to enhance nonprofit organizations’ program effectiveness. Its website contains a variety of resources regarding evaluation, including the use of outcomes measures. 

Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University conducts research and education to increase the understanding of and inform policy about housing issues. “Demystifying Outcome Measurement in Community Development” describes outcome measurements, why they are important, and the costs and benefits of undertaking outcome measurements for a community development organization (CDO). Although it focuses on CDOs, the information it contains can be useful for legal services programs.

The Impact Foundry  seeks to enhance the resources and improve the management of nonprofit organizations. Its website includes a variety of very useful materials regarding evaluation and the use of outcomes measures.

The United Way of America (UWA) was among the first funders to require its grantees—including legal services providers—to report outcomes data. UWA has produced many publications about the use of outcomes measures, including:

The Urban Institute has three web portals with resources and information in using outcomes.

  • Outcome Indicators Project. Provides information regarding frameworks, outcomes, and outcome indicators to help nonprofit organizations analyze and improve program performance.
  • A useful resource is “Building a Common Outcome Framework To Measure Nonprofit Performance.”
  • Performance Measurement-Non Profits has a series of “six outcome management guidebooks to assist nonprofit organizations in implementing the development or improvement of a process for tracking the outcomes of their work.” The introductory guide, “Key Steps In Outcome Management,” provides an overview of the outcome management process, identifies specific steps and provides guidance for using outcomes information.
  • PerformWell, a joint initiative of the Urban Institute, Child Trends, and Social Solutions, is a web portal with outcomes and effective practices resources to help nonprofit practitioners identify and use quality performance indicators to improve program performance.

The Nonprofit Technology Network did a year-long study of how nonprofits collect and use data, and produced “Collected Voices: Data-Informed Nonprofits,” an eBook of advice and case studies. 

Idealware, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits make good use of technology, has many articles and resources on the topic of outcomes management: