LSC Awards More Than $4.2 Million in Technology Grants to Legal Aid Organizations
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today announced 34 Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) to 27 legal services organizations in 20 states and one territory.
TIG funding supports a variety of initiatives, from building more efficient intake systems for clients seeking legal services to creating automated forms to support legal aid staff, pro bono attorneys, and self-represented litigants. The program was established in 2000. Since that time, LSC has made more than 600 grants totaling more than $57 million to civil legal aid organizations across the country.
“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants help provide convenient access to useful legal information and services for people who can’t afford a lawyer,” said Jim Sandman, President of LSC. “They also help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services legal aid lawyers provide to their clients.”
With this funding, legal aid organizations will embark on numerous technology projects. These include creating online trainings for pro bono attorneys, installing computer kiosks in domestic violence shelters to provide critical legal information to survivors, and updating an interactive online training tool that simulates court procedures for self-represented litigants.
Representative Raul Labrador (ID-1) congratulated Idaho Legal Aid Services on receiving TIG funding. “Our system depends on litigants receiving competent legal assistance,” Labrador said. “These grants provide valuable tools to people representing themselves and help legal aid organizations operate more effectively, improving efficiency in our courts and the quality of justice.”
Senator Chris Murphy (CT) applauded a technology grant for Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut. “Everyone has a right to equal protection under the law and equal access to the justice system. But too often, financial barriers get in the way, making the system inherently unequal for those without the resources to pay for top attorneys,” Murphy said. “The Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut helps bridge that gap by providing free legal services to those who need it most. I’m so proud to help secure federal funding that will help them modernize their technology and offer easier-to-use mobile platforms for their clients.”
Examples of 2016 Technology Initiative Grant projects include:
Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut will receive a total of $240,178 to assist low-income individuals in accessing the legal information they need. It will use an $88,178 grant to enhance a self-help legal website, making it more accessible for users on mobile devices. A second $152,000 grant will support improvements to Connecticut RePresent, an interactive website that helps prepare self-represented individuals for court. Statewide Legal Services will also modify the app to create jurisdiction-specific versions for clients in Maine and Massachusetts.
Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA) will receive $66,379 to improve communication with legal aid clients by partnering with PS Technologies to develop a reminder system. Legal aid clients will be notified via text message of upcoming appointments, court appearances, and other important deadlines. CCLA’s staff believes that this technology will not only strengthen communication, it will also improve outcomes for legal aid clients.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma will receive a total of $356,963 to help Oklahomans receive the legal help and information they need. With the support of a $221,746 grant, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma will develop a statewide online “triage” program for all Oklahomans seeking civil legal services. The system will identify and recommend the best sources of assistance for an individual’s circumstances, based on variables such as the nature of the legal problem, income, location, language, and other factors.
The organization will also use a second grant of $135,217 grant to partner with the Tulsa Family Safety Center to improve outcomes for victims of domestic violence. The project will make the victim experience more comfortable and improve workflow at the Center by consolidating the current series of oral and written interviews into a single interview with an advocate.
Memphis Area Legal Services will receive a $53,400 grant to create an online portal allowing legal aid intake staff to conduct guided interviews of clients. Written by attorneys with expertise in different areas of the law, the scripts will guide staff and paralegals in providing case-specific advice for clients.
Utah Legal Services will receive a $202,000 grant to enhance its case management system. Attorneys and staff use the system to collect and organize important client data, capture case activities. The improvements will allow Utah Legal Services to use the data already collected to streamline and enhance communications with clients, preserve institutional knowledge, and improve oversight of case work.
For a full list of the 34 TIG-funded projects, visit http://www.lsc.gov/technology-initiative-grant-awards-2016.