Wayne Moore has been an access to justice leader for almost 30 years. Two of his greatest achievements have been helping to conceptualize and operationalize the hotline and pro bono movements. He has now drawn upon his long experience to write a book, Delivering Legal Services to Low-Income People, available online at https://www.createspace.com/3466223, or on Amazon.
Perhaps the most systematic analysis of how to build an efficient high quality legal aid system ever written, it has a large number of ideas, all worthy of great consideration throughout our community.
Wayne has agreed to be our next News Maker interviewee. There is so much of importance in the interview that we are posting it in two parts. This is the first, in which Wayne discusses what he has learnt about how a system should be built, what components it should include, how to maximize impact on access, and what metrics can be used by legal aid programs for self-assessment and improvement. The rest of the interview will be posted in a day or so, and will include his views on the roles of access the justice commissions, pro bono, technology, and LSC, and gives his vision of what he sees happening in the next ten years.
Richard Zorza: Wayne, thanks so much for agreeing to talk to this blog. Can you start by telling us about your own personal history in access to justice, and why you set out to write this book?
Wayne Moore: I worked for AARP for 30 years where I served as Director of AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) and simultaneously served in various management positions with AARP including Director of Legal Advocacy, Co-administrator of the AARP Foundation, and Director of Advocacy Planning and Issues Management.
I helped pioneer several delivery systems including pro bono programs, legal hotlines, and brief services units. I helped create and manage a 14 attorney, impact litigation group for AARP and a discount legal services programs for AARP members. I was very involved in prepaid legal services and was a member of the ABA Group and Prepaid Legal Services Committee, serving as President in 2001-2002.
When I retired from AARP over four years ago, I decided to write this book because no other comprehensive book on the topic existed. I also started a law firm, Moore & Associates, to test whether I could deliver unbundled legal services to low and moderate income people on a flat fee basis. Although, I did not make much money, I learned enough to propose methods for doing this in the future. This is the topic of a differnt book I am currently writing.
Richard Zorza: I understand that some people are worried about the timing of the publication of this book, particularly because it is often critical of the existing delivery system. Are you worried that your approach might be used by opponents of legal aid to obtain funding cuts in the LSC budget?
Wayne Moore: I would oppose any attempt to misuse my book in such a way. Legal services urgently need more funding, not less. I consider my book to be a how-to book. It describes in detail all the delivery systems that have been developed since the mid-1970s. Where I am critical of the status quo, it is of those who oppose these new efficient systems, as this prevents the expansion of services that occur when these systems are used, — an expansion that does not sacrifice quality. Unfortunately, timing of suggestions is always a problem as most legal services funding is based on an annual appropriation cycle. This book should be perceived as an opportunity to expand services even without more money. It provides a blueprint for how to do this.
Richard Zorza: Getting to substance, what do you think is the book’s most important lesson?
Wayne Moore: My primary goal is to convince my colleagues that delivery system development is an essential component of legal services. It can have the same impact as good management on the overall success of a program. Indeed, delivery system development should be a key component of training for all legal services directors and a separate field of study and research. When I first became a legal services director over 33 years ago, I remember LSC had just added a topic to its new director training, namely management. Management is a main component of this training today. I hope the same will be said about delivery system development in a few years.
Richard Zorza: If you were building a legal services program from the ground up today, what would you do differently from the way things are now?
Wayne Moore: I would build programs and delivery systems as a whole, rather than piecemeal. I devote two chapters of my book to this. One chapter describes the key components of a legal services program and the other does the same for a statewide network of programs. The key components of an individual program are: centralized intake that serves all the offices and units of a program; a proactive community education effort that targets priority and hard-to-reach clients; neighborhood self-help centers operated by non-attorney volunteers who navigate a web-site to find the information and generate simple documents that clients need; court-based self-help centers that handle most uncontested court matters; a hotline that handles all advice-only cases except for those of clients, who research has shown, need face-to-face services; a brief services unit that uses document generators to handle routine, high volume cases requiring documents (e.g Chapter 7 no-asset bankruptcies); a pro bono unit that has the first choice of all the remaining cases to maximize their placement with the volunteers; staff attorneys and paralegals who handle all the cases the other units can’t; an impact advocacy unit that uses strategies likely to impact a large segment of the client community, such as coalition building and community economic development; and a client follow-up unit that contacts clients to determine case outcomes.
Similarly, the key components of a statewide network are: a centralized intake center that has a data base that allows the referral of a client to the program with the eligibility criteria, case priorities and current capacity to serve the client with the least expensive delivery system capable of achieving the required outcome; court-based self help centers to handle most uncontested court cases; a centralized hotline to handle all advice-only cases that don’t require face-to-face services; law school clinics that receive their choice of the remaining cases to fulfill their educational requirements; pro bono programs that have the next choice of cases to allow them to utilize all their volunteer attorneys; and staff programs that receive the cases the others can’t handle. The intake center follows-up with most referred clients to determine cases outcomes.
Richard Zorza: What kinds of service should be provided?
Wayne Moore: A full range of services including community legal education, kiosk services like ICAN, legal information, help navigating a legal services website, court-based self-help services, hotline advice, brief services, extended services and impact advocacy. In fact, I don’t think legal services programs provide enough extended services and impact advocacy as this is what clients have the hardest problem finding elsewhere.
Some programs have a narrow view of the impact advocacy strategies available to them, most of which do not violate LSC or 501(c) (3) regulations. Impact work that is permissible includes coalition building, community economic development, and representation of groups. For example, the non-profit advocacy group Appleseed has been very effective in using volunteer lawyers to investigate serious community problems and release reports to the press that thoroughly document the problem and suggest solutions. Similarly, programs should find clients with egregious situations and bring them to the attention of the media in order to expose systemic problems. Using their persuasive writing and presentation skills, program attorneys can fundraise for community programs that provide critical services. They can mobilize non-attorney volunteers to staff community events to identify people eligible for public benefits using the website http://www.benefitscheckup.org, and help them apply. Finally programs can help change court rules that disadvantage pro se litigants.
If a program does not engage in enough appeals or other impact work, it should conduct active intake – seeking out cases that will lead to such activities. For example, programs can partner with non-profits that are located in the geographical area of an organization, business or individual that is harming the low income community to hold specially publicized intake clinics or workshops to find victims of the activity.
To conduct impact advocacy more effectively, programs will need to develop work plans with timelines. They must set objectives and establish the measurements that will demonstrate whether they are successful; staff members who perform the advocacy work must be involved in developing these measurements. When the advocacy last years, grantees should set annual milestones.
Richard Zorza: Do you think a stress on brief services results in this lack of impact work?
Wayne Moore: No, just the opposite. More efficient delivery systems allow fewer staff to close a program’s current caseload. This frees up existing staff to do more impact work. The biggest mistake programs make is failing to allocate a specific percentage of staff time to impact work. As a result, the huge demand for individual services tends to divert staff from impact work to case services. All delivery systems have mechanisms to control case volumes, so programs can ensure that allocated time is actually used for impact work.
Richard Zorza: I know you are a big advocate of the use of metrics. How should a legal aid program board and director use metrics?
Wayne Moore: Metrics are of critical importance, since every industry relies on them to improve productivity, maximize profits, and stay competitive. Private law firms rely heavily on the metric of billable hours to measure performance and reward top-performing staff. Yet most systems of metrics have limitations. Most do not measure quality, which must be done separately, and they can’t capture everything an organization does for its clients. For example, billable hours do not directly measure the benefits received by clients or the success rates of attorneys in trials and appeals. But they do help staff focus on what the law firm believes is important. Organizations tend to get what they measure; so they must measure what they truly want.
The metrics I suggest people use are, by necessity, based on data available from the case services reports (CSRs) submitted by grantees to LSC. The data I use to come to the conclusions in the book are the number of cases and their closure codes; the total number of attorneys, paralegals, and other staff; and the number of volunteer attorneys available to accept cases and the number who do. Therefore, these metrics cannot measure all the other important services grantees provide, such as outreach; community education; development of materials, kiosks and websites; and such impact work as community economic development, coalition building, and administrative advocacy. The necessary information is simply not available (although some impact advocacy data is available from CSRs, namely the number of contested court cases and appeals).
These metrics should not be used in isolation. They are only intended to help programs and funders identify potential performance and productivity problems. Further investigation and evaluation are needed before such problems can be confirmed. Thus, the metrics’ sole purpose is to help programs spot problems that might otherwise go undetected.
The big advantage of the metrics I propose that programs use are that they are very straightforward and can be understood by the public and our clients.
In Part Two of the NewsMaker Interview, now online here, Wayne discusses the roles of access the justice commissions, pro bono, technology, and LSC, and gives his vision of what he sees happening in the next ten years.