This is nice. As posed on the DOJ Access Initiative website, DOJ in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service has issued a Guide to Vista for Legal Aid Programs.
From the Guide: Vistas Helping with Technology:
- Minnesota Legal Services: VISTAs updated and enhanced a statewide legal help website, LawHelpMN.org, leading usage to triple; VISTAS added hundreds of additional resources to the site, including a “LiveHelp” chat navigational assistance tool, and created versions of the site in Somali and Spanish. VISTAs also created document assembly court form interviews for pro se litigants.
- Montana Legal Services State Support: VISTAs helped develop: one of the first legal services informational websites, MontanaLawHelp.org; another website with free tax information; self‐help law kiosks in remote or rural areas with “LiveHelp” chat navigational assistance; the B‐SAFE program, an Individual Development
Account program for domestic violence survivors to promote financial literacy and economic independence.
- Prairie State Legal Services: VISTAs created a mortgage foreclosure helpdesk at an Illinois county courthouse
On Building Partnerships:
- Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation: VISTAs launched and coordinate: a foreclosure mediation program, which now partners with St. Louis University Legal Clinic; a medical‐legal partnership with local hospitals; an education advocacy project that works closely with children, parents, and teachers in the East St. Louis school system to empower parents and improve children’s educational outcomes.
- Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago: VISTAs helped start a medical‐legal partnership at the University of Chicago’s children’s hospitals and clinics. The program continues today without any VISTA funding,
and two former VISTAs eventually worked on the project as staff attorneys.
- Prairie State Legal Services: VISTA helps establish collaborative medical‐legal partnerships between PSLS and medical clinics serving low‐income individuals.
- Watsonville Law Center (California): VISTAs developed, maintained, or strengthened: a tricounty foreclosure collaborative that holds regular workshops and develops expert resources on foreclosure; a service provider collaborative that meets monthly and addresses emerging community issues, like providing services to reentering ex‐offenders and the LGBT or indigenous communities; a statewide collaborative of state agencies and other stakeholders in the workers compensation system to address barriers that prevent low‐wage and immigrant
The Guide describes how the Vistas can be used, how to apply, and gives many more examples.
Its amazing how many of the innovative programs in legal aid happen from this kind of supplemental funding — in fact, it highlights the need for discretionary funding to incentivize this kind of innovation, as envisioned in the LSC Draft Strategic Plan.
Congratulations to all involved for putting out this Guide. It shows how important it is to have an Access Initiative at DOJ.