Thoughts on the LSC TIG Solicitation

The LSC Technology Grants solicitation is out, with short letters of intent due March 18.  While applications must be made by existing LSC grantees, there is great openness to cooperative grants in which access to justice partners, including courts, are major collaborators.

The headline this year is the major role played in follow up to the Technology Summit.In addition, LSC is treating as areas of interest pro bono and use of data for strategic and advocacy analysis.  There are huge opportunities for impact and creativity here.  I encourage brainstorming, rather than just trying to fit a need into a slot.  This is the opportunity to get in on the ground floor with the exciting process of Summit follow up, and the creation of an entire next generation delivery and access infrastructure — one that much more tightly binds together legal aid, courts and other access institutions.

Below is the relevant part of the solicitation (with links added by me to prior postings).

III. Areas of Interest

LSC welcomes applications for a wide variety of projects. For 2013, LSC has three areas of particular interest in which programs are encouraged to submit proposals for innovative technology approaches. The designation of these areas does not in any way limit the scope of proposals in which LSC is interested. The 2013 areas of particular interest are:

A. Key Initiatives from LSC’s 2012-2013 Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice.

•    Document Assembly – See Grant Category 2: Replication and Adaptation
•    Remote Service Delivery – Remote delivery of legal services can reduce the costs of connecting attorneys and paralegals to clients and improve the likelihood that low-income people will receive high-quality legal assistance regardless of their location. Additionally, Americans have become more accustomed to online service delivery in areas such as banking, shopping, and support services. Recognizing this change, LSC seeks proposals to develop new and creative systems that would promote the delivery of remote legal services efficiently and effectively. It encourages organizations to explore private bar innovations — such as virtual law office (VLO) platforms — and advances seen in the medical field, where providers increasingly utilize patient portals and telemedicine in their practices.
•    Mobile Technologies – Services and assistance that can be delivered to or using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. For many clients, a cellphone may be their only dedicated Internet access point and is likely the technology with which they are most familiar. According to a 2012 Pew survey, this is particularly true for people “under the age of 30, Black and Latino users, and people with lower income and education levels.” Proposals could address the use of text messaging, responsive web designs to deliver content to mobile devices, specialized apps or tools for use on smartphones or ways to better integrate the use of mobile technologies in the delivery of legal services by advocates.
•    Expert Systems and Checklists – “Expert systems” emulate the decision-making ability of human experts. In legal services, these systems can be used to help self- represented litigants navigate an unfamiliar legal process or support legal services professionals by augmenting existing systems and practice tools. Such systems can be envisioned for a wide variety of topics including, for example, benefits entitlement, identification of necessary forms and procedures, alternative approaches to problem solutions, and preventive law. One subset of expert systems, dynamic, interactive checklists, guide clients and advocates through the steps in processes such as initiating or responding to court actions and dealing with government agencies. Expert system applications include those that assist lawyers in analyzing complex but recurring fact/law situations; thus prompting collection of all relevant information and provision of a tentative legal rights diagnoses. To learn more about the use of expert systems and see some examples, you may go to: http://tig.lsc.gov/guidance-expert-systems.
•    Triage – Triage systems are online assessment tools used to direct users to the most appropriate available resources to address their legal needs. These systems ask the user questions to determine such factors as the level of assistance needed, the abilities of the user, and whether or not any opposing party is represented. Using logic built into the system by the designers, the user is then directed to the most appropriate resource available. (These resources may include self-help materials on a website, the legal aid program’s intake portal (online or hotline), or a referral to a pro bono project, court self-help center, government agency, or a social services organization.) So that the service options will be as broad as possible, ideally such a system will be a collaboration among as many access to justice partners as possible, such as legal aid programs, the courts, and the private bar.

B. Leveraging Technology to Increase Pro Bono Attorney and Law Student Involvement.

Engagement of pro bono attorneys is a valuable and essential resource for increasing the supply of advocates and meeting the increased demand for provision of legal services to low income persons. 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, in-house counsel and recent graduates, are well-poised to expand access to justice in their states. In addition, many law students have a strong interest in providing legal help to those in need. As discussed in LSC’s recently released Report of the Pro Bono Task Force, information 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 pro bono attorney and law student involvement.

C. 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, state and local government agencies, as well as 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. LSC also encourages projects that systematically evaluate and document the ways and extent to which technologies funded through TIG and other sources affect the quality and quantity of client services and/or the effectiveness and efficiency of program operations. The focus of such analyses might include, but are not limited to, pro se forms and resources, mobile applications, intake systems, and video-conferencing.

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About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
This entry was posted in Document Assembly, Forms, Law Schools, Legal Aid, LSC, Metrics, Pro Bono, Software Developers, Technology, Triage. Bookmark the permalink.

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