LSC's Tech Download Newsletter | April 2020
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Highlighting Innovation in Legal Aid Technology

LSC's Emerging Leaders Council Members Highlight Important Role of Technology


LSC's Emerging Leaders Council brings together some of the country’s rising leaders to help increase public awareness of the crisis in civil legal aid and the importance of providing equal access to justice to all low-income Americans.

Several members took time at the Innovations in Technology Conference to talk about the value of the conference and technology's vital role in closing the nation's justice gap. First to be featured is Amanda Brown, Legal Innovation Advisor & Counsel at InnoLegal Services PLLC.
Hear from ELC member Amanda Brown, Legal Innovation Advisor & Counsel at InnoLegal Services PLLC.

Spotlight on Success: TIG Project Profile
Recently Completed Website Projects Demonstrate Value of LSC's Ford Foundation Project

In 2017, LSC completed a large-scale assessment of statewide legal information websites across the country. LSC recipients either manage these websites or serve as key stakeholders in almost every state and territory. The assessment, funded by the Ford Foundation, included a comprehensive report with recommendations for improving these websites.

Several LSC grantees received TIG funding to build on the report’s recommendations. These projects are now wrapping up and have been overwhelmingly successful in improving the quality and usability of the statewide website network. 

Examples of successful initiatives include:

Atlanta Legal Aid Society & Legal Services Vermont


A joint project between Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Legal Services Vermont has focused on implementing accessibility guidelines highlighted in the report. The project teams have deployed these enhancements across their statewide websites, VTLawHelp.org and GeorgiaLegalAid.org. They also shared their project results at LSC’s Innovation in Technology Conference in January and will publish a detailed toolkit later this year.

Legal Services of Northwestern Minnesota


Legal Services of Northwestern Minnesota worked with state partners to rebuild LawHelpMN.org in Drupal 8, including improvements in search engine optimization, language access, content presentation, ease of navigation, visual design and accessibility. The project team also implemented the report's recommendation to improve engagement through search engine optimization (SEO). Likely as a result of the increased SEO, LawHelpMN experienced a 42% increase in traffic from the previous year.

Montana Legal Services Association


Together with its technology partner Pro Bono Net, Montana Legal Services Association improved user experience on MontanaLawHelp.org by reorganizing and revising online resources, making it easier to find resources with an improved internal search bar and expanding its audience through search engine optimization (SEO). The site experienced a 47% increase in users in the year following these enhancements, with the majority of users surveyed (80%) finding the online resources “easy” or “very easy” to read and utilize. 

Pine Tree Legal Assistance 


Pine Tree Legal Assistance partnered with Illinois Legal Aid Online to enhance the internal search features of the Drupal content management system. The majority of statewide websites use Drupal and many report significant challenges with internal site searches. The evaluation found that enhancements such as autosuggest (offering likely search terms as the user begins typing) and forgiving search (accounting for misspellings and typos) resulted in more accurate results. The project team has shared information and technical resources around these enhancements.

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.

Jitsi


Jitsi Meet is an open source alternative to Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype and other video conferencing tools. It's free, can be run from the browser and each meeting can be password protected. There are apps for both Android and Apple devices. And because it is open source, it can be downloaded and run on your own servers for added security.

Patch My PC


Patch My PC is a free tool that automatically scans and updates patches on your computer. It will check for outdated software across over 300 programs, download the required patches and install them for you or give you a report to select the ones to install. During this time of remote work, this is a good tool for staff who may be using personal equipment to ensure that security patches are kept up to date.

Microsoft Planner


Microsoft Planner is a free tool that comes with Office 365 and integrates with Office products, including Microsoft Teams. It’s a project planning tool, but simpler to use than Microsoft Project. You can create workflows and assign tasks to working group members. See the free tutorials for more information on using Microsoft Planner.

LSC Innovations in Technology Conference Videos
Available

A record-breaking 600 people attended this year’s Innovations in Technology Conference to share ideas on how technology can help bridge the access to justice gap. 

Sessions covered a wide variety of topics, but three themes emerged from the discussions. First, the possibilities and challenges of AI and machine learning. Regulatory reform was a second theme, specifically how to ensure that more low-income Americans have access to legal help by changing the regulatory rules around the unauthorized practice of law. Finally, several sessions explored how innovative design can help organizations improve the delivery of legal services.

Many of the sessions were recorded and are available to watch on LSC's YouTube page
Watch ITC Sessions
CALENDAR
 
April
  • Online Content Creation Workshop
    This session will cover how to quickly and cost effectively create online content for your clients with tips from groups inside and outside of legal aid that have been running webinars and creating YouTube videos or Facebook Live streams for years.

    Online
    April 30, 1 p.m. ET
    Registration Info

May
  • Security and Confidentiality for Providing Legal Services Remotely
    This intro-level security class is focused specifically on remote working and protecting your client’s confidentiality and your organization's security. Since we have all moved online, hackers and scammers are targeting this new set of remote workers. The webinar will cover: common scams, VPN and other private remote networks, how to respond to a data breach, password management and encryption options. 

    Online
    May 5, 1 p.m. ET

    Registration Info

     
  • LSC Technology Contracting Webinar
    This training will explore contracting considerations for TIG recipients and other LSC grantees entering into agreements for technology services and products. Topics will include best practices for preparing and reviewing technology contracts, with a focus on contracts for consulting and development services; preparing clear, concrete statements of work; and reviewing and negotiating contract terms to reduce your organization’s risk.

    Online
    May 5, 2 p.m. ET
    Registration Info
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