LSC TIG Solitication Out — Letters of Intent Due March 12

Its out, the LSC TIG request for letters of intent, due March 12.

Remember that applications have to be submitted by an existing grantee, but that LSC is very open to collaborations with other organizations, including courts.

There are categories for Website Improvement and Innovation, Replication and Adaption (with specific suggestions for replication of previous TIG projects and Automated Form Replication) and an Open area.

Most suggestive to me are the Five “Areas of Interest:”

Using Mobile Technologies to Provide and Increase Access to Legal Assistance. Internet connectivity is no longer limited to hard-wired locations. According to a 2011 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 77 percent of U.S. adults with household incomes under $30,000 own a cell phone. Of those, 22 percent own smartphones, and two in five of these smartphone owners indicate that they “mostly go online using their cell phone.” In addition, the survey showed that 73 percent of all Americans now use their cell phones for text messaging. The increased availability and use of mobile technologies, including tools and resources such as cell phones, smartphones, laptops, netbooks and tablets, combined with the increasing availability of broadband access to facilitate delivery of resources like video and web conferencing, provide an opportunity for legal aid programs to create innovative uses of these new tools. LSC encourages proposals to explore how these mobile technologies can be used by legal aid programs, particularly to take advantage of the high percentage of clients who have cell phones and use text messaging. For example, a program could ask clients if they would prefer to be contacted by text message, and ticklers could be set up in the program’s case management system to send out text messages to remind clients of appointments, or court hearings and the information they need to bring. Programs could also create mobile applications, increase pro bono involvement through mobile clinics, and integrate the use of mobile technologies in the delivery of legal services by advocates.

Leveraging Technology to Increase Pro Bono Attorney and Law Student Involvement. The funding crisis has increased the need for legal services providers to engage private attorneys willing to help low-income clients. Many state justice communities have urged attorneys to get more involved in pro bono efforts, and some have suggested that particular categories of attorneys, such as retiring or retired lawyers and recent graduates, are well-poised to expand access to justice in their states. In addition, nearly 155,000 law students are currently enrolled in an ABA-approved law school2, and many of these students have a strong interest in providing legal help to those in need. Technology can play an important role in recruiting pro bono attorneys and law students and providing them the tools necessary to effectively meet the legal needs of clients. LSC seeks proposals for projects that leverage creative uses of technology to enhance private attorney and law student involvement.

Technology Tools with Applicability to Federal Laws. A variety of technologies have the potential to enhance access to legal information and resources related to federal laws affecting the clients of LSC grantees. These resources may be especially valuable given that they could be used by clients and advocates across the country. Substantive legal areas might include, but are not limited to: Social Security Disability, SSI, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Bankruptcy, Fair Labor Standards Act, Public and Federally Subsidized Housing, and Medicare. Resources for clients might include web- based legal information and guidance, including appropriate automated documents and videos. Advocate resources could include web-based trainings, informational materials and automated documents and court forms. These technology tools should be developed so they can be readily used and/or adapted by advocates or clients across the country. Tools also might include mechanisms for coordinating and sharing information about federal legal issues.

Use of Data to Analyze Service Delivery and Develop Advocacy Strategies.  Recipients are increasingly recognizing that more effective use of a wide range of data can enable them to better identify: 1) current and emerging needs of their client communities; 2) patterns of service delivery by case type, level of service or demographics of clients; and 3) outcomes achieved for clients. Data analysis can assist in developing specially tailored advocacy and service delivery strategies that more effectively address the most pressing legal needs and achieve the greatest outcomes for clients. Valuable data are available from a range of federal agencies (e.g., the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development) and comparable state agencies (e.g., state offices for planning and research, departments of social services and health), as well as local government agencies, academic institutions, policy groups and other non-profits. LSC encourages initiatives that enable recipients, by themselves or in partnership with other entities, to use technologies to more readily identify, compile and employ data in ways that improve the responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency of services provided to clients.

Leveraging Technology to Support Shared Infrastructure and Staffing. The emergence of new technologies – such as robust, on-demand web applications and multi- tenant data centers – has made it easier for the legal services community to share critical capacities across programs. For instance, LSC recipients can adopt cloud solutions that consolidate the IT environments of multiple recipients into regional data centers. Recipients can also use established web applications and remote access and meeting tools to share staffing for positions that have been hard for LSC recipients to fill or sustain, especially in light of recent budget cuts. Examples of shared staffing capacity could include IT helpdesk staff and communications and development professionals. LSC seeks proposals for projects that leverage technology to provide shared IT infrastructure and/or staffing across recipients. These proposals should demonstrate how sharing capacities across LSC-funded recipients will reduce costs and tie into the goal of serving low- income clients as effectively and efficiently as possible.

There is $3.4 million available — not bad for a tough year, but very appropriate, given the great success of this program.

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About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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