Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grants 2018

In 2018, LSC awarded  Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants to 15 organizations to support innovations in pro bono legal services.

Alaska

Alaska Legal Services Corporation

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $304,297
  • Grant Type: Project

Alaska Legal Services Corporation’s Justice Expansion Project will expand available legal services for rural residents by training non-attorney volunteers to address civil legal issues. The grant will support the creation of legal training modules for non-attorney advocates in five legal subject areas. Alaska Legal Services will recruit and train local rural community leaders, such as Indian Child Welfare Act workers, health aides, tribal employees, and law and paralegal students to increase the availability of legal services across the state. The project’s use of non-attorney volunteers as advocates in high-priority need areas of law has the potential to be highly instructive and replicable in the field.

California

Bay Area Legal Aid

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $346,602
  • Grant Type: Project

Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) will launch A Fair Bargain: A Partnership with the Private Bar to Protect Low-Income California Consumers. BayLegal will train pro bono volunteers to assist in consumer rights clinics and partner with pro bono attorneys to assist clients with consumer complaints. The project will also leverage BayLegal’s existing infrastructure for pro bono impact litigation to address the unmet need of consumers who have been subject to unfair practices. By working with the private bar, BayLegal will train BayLegal attorneys in litigation and challenge unlawful consumer practices with pro bono partners in consumer impact cases aimed to improve conditions for large numbers of low-income clients.  

Legal Aid Society of Orange County

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $361,083
  • Grant Type: Transformation                                        

Legal Aid Society of Orange County will create a more robust and client-centered pro bono program by assessing, improving, and prioritizing its pro bono work. It will assess the efficacy of its current pro bono work and implement pro bono best practices throughout the organization. It will also coordinate with neighboring services in order to avoid duplication. The project will focus on providing legal services in “legal deserts”—areas where there are significant poverty rates and few available legal resources. 

Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $305,776
  • Grant Type: Project

Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County will use its grant to support its Antelope Valley Online Community Assistance Team. The project employs technology to connect private attorneys in Los Angeles to rural clients in the Antelope Valley, a rural area in Northern Los Angeles County with limited legal services. Pro bono volunteers will assist low-income clients on a variety of legal issues, but will focus on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline by protecting the rights of students and removing barriers to employment for justice-involved adults.

Florida

Legal Services of Greater Miami

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $383,270
  • Grant Type: Transformation

Legal Services of Greater Miami will use its grant to recruit and retain more pro bono attorneys and volunteers to address low-income clients’ critical legal problems. The grant will allow the organization to analyze its current pro bono system and then implement improvements to increase the number of volunteer attorneys, better integrate staff and pro bono volunteers, and build efficient and effective systems for pro bono program administration. It will also develop a pilot court-based pro bono eviction-defense project.

Georgia

Atlanta Legal Aid Society

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $371,475
  • Grant Type: Transformation

Atlanta Legal Aid Society will build a pro bono program that is more fully integrated into core legal services; flexible in responding to client needs; innovative in its models; and linked to volunteer, staff, and client data. This integrated approach to pro bono will develop the tools and systems to efficiently and effectively match client need with pro bono resources. Specifically, it will include a volunteer integration tool to identify cases and matters suited for pro bono assistance at the point of screening and intake, an online library for pro bono volunteers, and a pro bono project management toolkit addressing best practices and pro-bono project management.

Iowa

Iowa Legal Aid

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $341,339
  • Grant Type: Project

Iowa Legal Aid’s Limited Scope Representation Project will include a statewide campaign to increase awareness and practice of limited-scope representation and a localized, targeted launch of three new limited-pro bono projects. Iowa Legal Aid will conduct assessments in three cities to better understand the needs and resources of the community for limited-scope representation and, based on these assessments, will develop the new limited scope pro bono opportunities. By creating new limited scope opportunities and increasing awareness regarding limited scope representation, Iowa Legal Aid, using pro bono volunteers, will be able to provide assistance to more low-income clients in need.

Michigan

Lakeshore Legal Aid

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $364,740
  • Grant Type: Transformation

Lakeshore Legal Aid will improve its pro bono operations by developing a case management system to expand offsite volunteer-led clinics, reduce case assignment times, increase pro bono case placements, and reduce staff time on administrative tasks. The goal is to increase efficiency in key pro bono processes by as much as 50%, allowing the program to use more volunteers more effectively. The grant will be used to conduct a process mapping of current pro bono operations, develop a pro bono strategic plan and operations manual, deploy new technology to automate processes and workflows, develop key performance indicators, and update the volunteer attorney database.

Montana

Montana Legal Services Association

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $236,797
  • Grant Type: Project

The Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) Pro Bono Emeritus Program will develop and support a statewide network of retired or retiring attorneys to provide advice and limited-scope services to low-income clients throughout the state. Volunteers will provide legal advice to remote clients through the Montana Pro Bono Connect Phone Advice Program. They will also mentor and provide litigation support to Montana Legal Services Association attorneys. MLSA will use its grant to recruit and train volunteers for the project.

New York

Legal Assistance of Western New York

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $264,904
  • Grant Type: Transformation

Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY) will integrate pro bono services throughout its service area by building a region-wide pro bono management team. The program will conduct a needs assessment and then develop goals and priorities for the overall pro bono program. It will also integrate volunteer attorneys into its relatively new practice areas in consumer law and community development in order to create replicable models for its other practice groups.

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $210,140
  • Grant Type: Project

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) will use its grant to expand its existing Pro Bono Housing Project. The project recruits and trains pro bono volunteers from law firms to represent clients in housing and eviction cases. The grant will allow LSHV to broaden the scope of its recruitment activities, conduct more trainings for volunteer lawyers, and reach more clients in its service area in housing-related cases, including foreclosures and eviction.

Vermont

Legal Services Law Line of Vermont

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $186,960
  • Grant Type: Sustainability

Legal Services Law Line of Vermont will use the grant to expand its successful Pro Bono Eviction Clinic. Launched in 2016, the clinic helps low-income clients avoid evictions. The program successfully recruited volunteers to provide meaningful assistance to clients (including limited-scope and in-court representation), increased the number of clients served, and improved outcomes for clients. The sustainability phase aims to strengthen this project by continuing to recruit volunteer attorneys, identifying expansion opportunities, and building community partnerships to support clinic operations.

Virginia

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $184,927
  • Grant Type: Project

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society will use its grant to strengthen its partnership with the private bar through its Triage Project. The project, launched in 2017, utilizes volunteer private attorneys in 10 underserved areas of legal aid practice to recruit, organize, and train other volunteer attorneys to provide extended representation to clients. The program has already shown success in recruiting volunteer attorneys and serving clients. Central Virginia Legal Aid will use its grant to fund a staff member to coordinate and manage the Triage Project.

West Virginia

Legal Aid of West Virginia

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $202,439
  • Grant Type: Sustainability

Legal Aid of West Virginia will use its grant to expand its Lawyer in the School Project. The project assists students at an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood in Charleston. Trained volunteer lawyers provide on-site legal assistance in the school to families, targeting legal problems that affect children, such as housing and homelessness, hunger, access to health care, and custodial instability. The program has successfully engaged many new law firm volunteers, particularly young associates, in this community-focused project. Legal Aid of West Virginia will use its sustainability grant to enhance the program by improving data collection, engaging more volunteers, and expanding to a second elementary school.

Wisconsin

Legal Action of Wisconsin

  • Project Term: 24 months (October 2018 - September 2020)
  • Grant Amount: $340,000
  • Grant Type: Sustainability

Legal Action of Wisconsin will use its grant to expand the work of its Eviction Defense Project. Launched in January 2017, the project is a pro bono program that provides same-day, in-court representation to tenants facing eviction. The program has more than quadrupled representation for tenants in eviction cases since its start and has obtained positive client outcomes. Roughly 100 volunteer attorneys and 25 students have already partnered with the Eviction Defense Project, providing help to nearly 700 low-income clients. The grant will allow the project to expand its operating hours and therefore increase the number of clients served.