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LawHelpMN.org A free website for low-income Minnesotans with civil legal needs.

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Presentation on theme: "LawHelpMN.org A free website for low-income Minnesotans with civil legal needs."— Presentation transcript:

1 LawHelpMN.org A free website for low-income Minnesotans with civil legal needs.

2 The Need At least 80 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income Americans are not being met. In the U.S. there is about 1 lawyer per 525 persons in the general population, but only 1 legal aid lawyer per 6,861 low- income persons. Legal Services Corporation. Documenting the Justice Gap in America-The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans. Sept

3 The Need (continued) For every client served by a legal aid program, at least one person who sought help was turned down because of insufficient resources. Legal Services Corporation. Documenting the Justice Gap in America-The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans. Sept Many others are turned away for other reasons: merit, conflict, income, legal issue.

4 Why a Website? Minnesota ranks 2 nd in the nation for percentage of residents who use the Internet Reaching rural Minnesotans “[A]s more and more places get Internet access, the percentage of Internet users in rural areas is now almost even with the national average.” The Progressive Policy Institute. The 2002 State New Economy Index Use of the Internet by low-income persons is increasing US Dept. of Commerce. A Nation Online. Feb

5 Why a Website? (continued) Preventing legal issues from becoming legal problems Keeping legal information up-to-date For other service providers Part of an overall service delivery mechanism About 50% of unmet needs can be addressed through low-cost intervention, such as educational and self-help materials. American Bar Assoc. Findings of the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study

6 The LawHelp Website Template

7 LawHelp Template (continued) Created by Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit founded in 1998 to create website platforms and provide other technology assistance to legal services programs LawHelp.org is the public website template used by 27 states/territories Minnesota was one of the first states to launch a LawHelp website – in September 2003

8 LawHelpMN.org

9 LawHelpMN.org - Features 18 topics of interest to low-income community, organized by popularity 5 “Channels” of Information: Legal Information Legal Help Near You Other Help Near You Self-Help Forms Court Information

10 LawHelp Features (continued) Other ways to find a lawyer: Get Legal Help Legal Aid Offices Directory Video Tutorial Other Language Resources Spanish Mirror Site Survey for User Feedback

11 LawHelp Features (continued) LiveHelp Live online navigational assistance

12 Demonstration of LawHelpMN

13 Hypothetical: Charlene Charlene is a single mother with 2 kids Charlene makes a low wage as a clerk & cannot afford all of her costs as a parent The father does not keep in contact with Charlene or the children, and does not provide any financial support Charlene believes the father should help pay but doesn’t know how to get him to

14 What Can Charlene Do? English: Spanish:

15 LawHelpMN.org Usage The website is used by thousands of Minnesotans each year Usage has increased from year to year 2006: 70,168 Visits (192 per day) 2007: 83,970 Visits (230 per day) 2008: 112,264 Visits (306 per day) 2009: 143,003 (through 12/28/09) (395 per day)

16 Thank you! John Freeman Staff Attorney/Website Coordinator Minnesota Legal Services Coalition 2324 University Avenue West, Suite 101B St. Paul, MN (651) ext. 105


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