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Innovations in Technology- enabled Pro Bono October 23, 2013
Presenters Mirenda Watkins LawHelp Interactive Coordinator, Pro Bono Net Adam Friedl Pro Bono Coordinator, Pro Bono Net Carolyn Coffey Supervising Attorney, MFY Legal Services Liz Keith LawHelp Program Manager, Pro Bono Net
Road Map 1.Technology-enabled pro bono Initiatives LawHelp Interactive NY Family Court Remote Volunteer Attorney Project NYC Consumer Debt Defense Clinic and Forms Latest Innovations: Mobile and remote services 2.If you build it, they will come. Does the Field of Dreams maxim hold true for tech and pro bono volunteers?
Takeaways What to think about when you think about incorporating tech. What volunteers need to embrace new, unfamiliar models. Remember that the Legal Services-Tech empire was not built in a day. A few ideas to explore and how to get started. Image Courtesy of Ginnerobot / Flickr
Goals for Tech-Enabled Pro Bono Pro bono programs New pathways for volunteers to learn about and engage in your programs Pro bono lawyers Enhanced support, access to expertise, and new forms of volunteering Clients Greater resources and efficiencies; increased services to underserved clients and communities
LawHelp Interactive: Examples of Technology Tools with the Power to Enhance Pro Bono Initiatives Mirenda Watkins, Esq. LawHelp Interactive Program Coordinator Pro Bono Net
o A training centerwe teach people how to create interactive interviews o A tech support centerwe provide technical support o A replication/best practices enginewe share best practices, a community of sharing What is LawHelp Interactive (LHI)?
What is LawHelp Interactive (contd) Advocates or Self- represented Litigants answer questions during an interview. Supports use of HotDocs and/or A2J Author interviews. A personalized document is created from the answers.
Direct Representation: Pro bono lawyers are taking cases in an area outside their expertise and filing pleadings using LHI technology Limited Scope/Unbundled Legal Services Remote review of pleadings by pro bono lawyers/not having to go downtown to do pro bono In person review by pro bono lawyers at self-help centers Information/referral/Screening Emeritus attorneys staffing self-help centers in libraries and courts Emeritus attorneys staffing foreclosure hotlines (Georgia) Screening for N-400s (Citizenship Works) Law students/AmeriCorps staffing self-help centers, leading workshops, and college students staffing drop-in centers (Los Angeles, Kentucky, Bet Tzedek) How are Pro Bono Volunteers using LawHelp Interactive Forms?
Standardize Content Electronic remote sharing Reusable information Reduce training time by providing checks & balances, references, and calculators Sample pleadings can be reduced to one interview, one URL–no need to send out multiple documents in one big binder What are the Benefits of Interactive Forms in a Pro Bono Context?
New York Family Court Remote Volunteer Attorney Program Adam Friedl Pro Bono Coordinator Pro Bono Net
Family Court in New York – the numbers Number of dispositions per judge, 2005: –Family Court: 2,120 –Supreme Court, Civil: 525 –Supreme/County Courts, Criminal: 222 –Court of Claims: 63 Another way to think of it: In 2006, 127 Family Court judges were responsible for 680,791 new filings Percentage of litigants proceeding pro se: >80%
Family Court Remote Volunteer Attorney Project The Family Court Volunteer Attorney Project (VAP) provides free, discrete, unbundled legal advice by volunteer attorneys to un- represented litigants. In 2012, we began a pilot that extended the service to Staten Island using videoconferencing. Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/New_York_City
Previous Limits on Resources Staten Island (Richmond County) has not been covered in the past by VAP due to geography and limited resources. –Geography The vast majority of volunteer attorneys participating in VAP are based in Manhattan –Resources No dedicated space for VAP No dedicated personnel for the program in Staten Island
How the Remote VAP Works The idea: use technology to make VAP services available Use web-based communications technology to allow experienced volunteer attorneys in Manhattan to assist pro se litigants in other counties Use scanning and remote IP printing to deliver documents from litigants to volunteers and vice versa
Project Requirements Computer stations in Manhattan and target counties equipped with video conferencing software, cameras, microphones, speakers, printers, and scanners Secure, stable lines of communication Trained person to screen litigants and experienced family law attorney to supervise/mentor volunteers
The Process Screener conducts intake with litigant in Richmond intake room Screener escorts litigant to consultation room. Volunteer in Manhattan counsels litigant via video call If volunteer has a question, mutes video call and telephones mentor/supervisor Volunteer returns to video call, finishes consultation Volunteer prints any documents litigant needs to IP printer in target county
Current Status Expanding to service locations beyond New York City –The program is in the process of expanding to multiple counties upstate
Contributors to Success Staff conducting the pilot in NYC very experienced and enthusiastic – good environment for volunteers Every county has dedicated IT personnel who are able/willing to make the technology work seamlessly Workflow has been simplified as much as possible with step-by-step instructions for volunteers Extensive efforts to create buy-in from local court administrations and bar associations
Challenges Upstate/downstate divide: initial reluctance and assumption that they dont understand New and different staffing models required based on circumstances of individual counties Navigating administrative and political concerns to maintain positive experience for volunteers/litigants
Thank you for your time! For questions or comments, please feel free to contact: Adam Friedl Pro Bono Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumer Debt In 2011, 42% of overall debt collection lawsuits resulted in default judgments – but debt buyers obtained default judgments in an estimated 62% of their cases 95% of people with default judgments reside in low- or moderate-income neighborhoods
Only 2% of people sued by debt buyers in NYC are represented by counsel Only 10% of people sued answered the summons and complaint
The Pro Bono Response CLARO (Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office) Weekly, walk-in clinics held in courthouses Litigants receive advice about their case and assistance preparing some documents Staffed by experienced experts, pro bono attorneys, and trained law students Very successful and very popular
Challenges of this Model Clinics overflowing with litigants Significant learning curve for pro bono lawyers and students Some essential responsive documents too complex to be drafted during brief services (especially MSJs)
Document Assembly Resources for Pro Se Litigants Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment Debt Verification Letter Answer Demand for Documents
Document Assembly Resources for Advocates Why ? Efficiency for advocates Support for volunteers
Sample Response to a Motion for Summary Judgment Created in minutes, as opposed to hours
Benefits and Factors of Success Clinic volunteers can now serve clients more quickly, and thus serve more clients Less experienced volunteers now have expert guidance just by walking through the interview Most clinic supervisors are strong supporters of technological innovation New volunteers being trained in tech methods from the beginning
Challenges and Considerations Some personnel are very comfortable with previous by hand methods and adjustments they had made Learning curve of using the software As tech use expands, adapting to procedural idiosyncrasies of new locations
For More Information Contact: Carolyn Coffey email@example.com@mfy.org NYC Consumer Debt Defense Project http://www.probono.net/ny/consumer/ CLARO website: http://www.claronyc.org/claronyc/default.html
Mobile and Remote Innovations to Support Pro Bono Engagement Liz Keith LawHelp Program Manager Pro Bono Net
MN Pro Bono to Go Project Overview 2013 TIG to Legal Aid Services of Northeastern Minnesota Partners: Legal Services State Support, MSBA & Pro Bono Net Goal: Create a mobile version of ProJusticeMN.org featuring mobile-optimized settlement checklists and client interview guides
Why mobile checklists? Settlement opportunities can arise unexpectedly, often at court Good settlements can have tremendous benefits to the client But settlements have benefits and pitfalls that an inexperienced attorney might overlook Checklists can help with issue- spotting and make volunteers more confident taking cases outside their area
Why mobile interview guides? Walk-in clinics are a staple of volunteer attorney work Standardized interview guides can help practitioners get better and more complete information from clients – and provide better advice as a result The guides can also speed up issue-spotting, making sessions more efficient
Other uses of mobile Mobile apps to connect attorneys with information about volunteering and practice resources Illinois Legal Aid Online, Arkansas Legal Services Partnership, Public Counsel (LA) Screening resource for non-legal volunteers R3 Domestic Violence Screening app (Recognize, Respond and Refer) Bay Area medical-legal partnership created an app to help social workers and nurses screen clients for legal issues Your ideas?
Remote services pro bono models Virtual legal clinic and lawyer in the library programs Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley Virtual Legal Services clinics Remote document review from court-based self-help centers LiveHelp / live chat Asynchronous online advice platforms e.g. OnlineTNJustice.org
Where is LiveHelp / live chat being used with law student and private attorney volunteers? Blue = Live projects staffed by legal aid staff, Americorps*VISTA volunteers, and librarians Green = Live projects using volunteers Yellow = Projects in development that will use volunteers
What kind of assistance are volunteers providing? Information-finding and referral assistance (all) Help finding & using online self-help forms (MT, KS, AR, OK, TX) Help applying for services online (UT) Individualized legal assistance after screening (TX) Bilingual Spanish assistance (NY, IL) Court self-help services (MD) Pro bono counsel & advice (OH – 2014)
Considerations for using volunteers in LiveHelp Anytime/anywhere option is attractive Volunteers who participated in LiveHelp Does your program have online content (FAQs, instructions, referral info) that volunteers can lean on? LiveHelp system content and admin tools can help with support and supervision Use of volunteers requires a greater investment in staff supervisor time Need a system for back-channel support (e.g. Google chat)
What does the (not so distant) future hold? More sophisticated & tailored case marketing and matching Auto-generated personalized referral packets for volunteers (drawing on statewide website content & automated forms) Virtual law office platforms with secure client and volunteer portals (e.g. RocketLawyer) to provide unbundled or full services Your ideas?
For More Information LiveHelp: Contact: Liz Keith, firstname.lastname@example.org or Xander Karsten, email@example.com@firstname.lastname@example.org LawHelp Interactive: Contact: Mirenda Watkins, email@example.com or Claudia Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING TODAY! Next up by PBN: Beyond Online Intake: Looking at Triage and Expert Systems December 4, 2013 More information at www.lsntap.org
Contact Information Brian Rowe (email@example.com) or via chat on www.lsntap.org Dont forget to take our feedback survey!