LSC's Tech Download Newsletter | October 2018
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Highlighting Innovation in Legal Aid Technology

LSC Awards Nearly $4 Million in Technology Grants 

Earlier this month, LSC announced 26 Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) to legal services organizations in 21 states for a total of $3,884,257.

The TIG program provides crucial aid to projects that enhance access to high-quality legal assistance for low-income Americans through innovative technological applications. Established in 2000, the program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. In total, LSC has funded more than 700 technology projects accounting for nearly $65 million to support legal aid organizations across the country.

“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,” said LSC President Jim Sandman.

Among the funded initiatives are projects that bolster online self-help resources, expand services to rural communities, and facilitate clients’ ability to seek legal help via text messaging services and voice assistants.

Some project highlights include:
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.


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.  A "chatbot" will allow AI to interact with users while also ensuring their privacy.



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.   
 

LSC Announces TIG Improvement Award Recipients

LSC’s Technology Improvement Project (TIP) grants provide funding for legal aid organizations to conduct technology assessments, make business process improvements, and plan technology projects. 

This year, LSC announced $186,399 in TIP grants to seven legal aid organizations: Central California Legal Services, Colorado Legal Services, Indiana Legal Services, Inland Counties Legal Services, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, Legal Aid of Wyoming, and Legal Services Alabama. The projects include making online legal information more mobile friendly, improving online intake, and undertaking reporting that will better determine staffing and the types of legal services offered to clients. 

Spotlight on Success: TIG Project Profile
Helping Resolve Small Claims Cases Online 

The Legal Aid Society of Orange County has created an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) system for small claims cases. Supported by TIG funding, the project was developed in collaboration with the Orange County Superior Court. The system is a free, convenient way for parties to resolve disputes online and avoid the time and expense of going to court.  

Using the ODR, the parties can request the assistance of a neutral, trained facilitator to help resolve their dispute, upload evidence, and communicate with each other. Negotiations are voluntary and confidential. Settlement agreements and dismissals can be filed online with the court through the website.

Legal Aid Society of Orange County is working with the Orange County Superior Court to publicize this new resource. Court clerks distribute a brochure about the ODR with each small claims case filed, and the service is listed on the court website. Information is also provided at Self-Help Centers located in courthouses.

Click here for more on ODR

Apps for That
Best Legal Aid Apps 

What are the latest tech tools? Which new apps are the most promising? In this section, we recommend tech resources that can benefit legal aid organizations and their clients.

FindTime 


FindTime is a free add-on to Outlook that saves staff time by making it easier to reach consensus on a meeting time. Propose selected times to all attendees—including people from outside organizations—and allow everyone to vote. FindTime sends out the meeting invite on your behalf once everyone has voted, eliminating the time-consuming back-and-forth usually required in planning meetings with people outside your organization. 
 
Click here to download FindTime

Immersive Reader


Immersive Reader is a text-to-speech application built into Microsoft Office 365 versions of Word, Outlook, and OneNote. The application—originally developed through a 2015 hackathon focused on building tools for dyslexic users—employs several techniques that make reading and reviewing material easier. It optimizes text size and spacing and simultaneously highlights text as it is read aloud to the user. This tool is helpful when reviewing long documents, as well as for proofreading reports and other important written products. 
Click here for more on Immersive Reader

ITCon (formerly the TIG Conference) Registration is Open

It's not too early to start thinking about LSC's Innovations in Technology Conference! Technologists, legal aid advocates, court personnel, academics, and other professionals will gather in New Orleans in January to showcase technology projects and tools to promote access to justice and high-quality legal representation for low-income people. The conference also provides an opportunity to network with a community of colleagues and to cultivate project ideas that could lead to successful TIG applications.
Register here
Learn more about the conference
CALENDAR

 
November
 
  • IT Disaster Planning 101: An Assessment of Vulnerability
    Recent events (hurricanes, fires, floods, etc.) have only reinforced the need for organizations to be prepared for a variety of interruptions to the services they provide to clients. This session will describe how to identify and assess vulnerabilities. Attendees will then be prepared to identify the "next steps" needed for disaster preparedness. These recommendations can then be incorporated into the IT planning process, shared with management as part of business continuity planning, or used as a basis for seeking grants or fundraising.

    Online 
    November 13, 1 PM EST
    Registration Info

January
  • Legal Aid Hackathon
    Legal Aid Hackathon brings together the legal tech community to develop innovative solutions to improve access to justice. It will be a pre-conference event at LSC's Innovations in Technology Conference. Participants can attend in-person or remotely at no cost. 

    New Orleans or Online
    January 8

    Registration Info
     
  • LSC's Innovations in Technology Conference
    LSC's Innovations in Technology Conference will cover a range of issues on how technology can increase access to justice, including tools to improve limited scope or self-representation for those persons whom legal aid organizations are not able to represent fully; improving the efficiency and effectiveness of access, triage, and intake; encouraging and supporting pro bono; and more.

    New Orleans 
    January 9-11
    Registration Info
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