February is Black History Month, a welcome time to celebrate the achievements and recognize the central role of Black Americans in U.S. history. The national Black History Month 2023 theme, Black resistance, explores how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” since the nation’s earliest days.¹ 

As an organization committed to justice, all of us at Pro Bono Net celebrate and reflect on Black History Month and also see this as an opportunity to learn and share resources. Throughout February, our staff were invited to share recommendations on resources to explore Black history and culture. As we close out the month, we wanted to share some of those recommendations with others. At a time when the study of Black history and racial injustice is under threat on multiple fronts, yet essential to a just and equitable future, the voices of historians, activists and educators like those below are more important than ever. 

America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s

Written by Elizabeth Hinton, America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s takes us on a troubling journey from Detroit in 1967 and Miami in 1980 to Los Angeles in 1992 and beyond to chart the persistence of structural racism and one of its primary consequences, the so-called “urban riot,” which Hinton reexamines as episodes of resistance and rebellion.³

  • Recommended by Mark O’Brien, Pro Bono Net’s Executive Director 

The 1619 Project

The 1619 docuseries is an expansion of “The 1619 Project” created by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times Magazine. The series seeks to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.²

  • Recommended by Claudia Johnson, LawHelp Interactive Program Manager and Tim Baran, New York Justice Initiatives Program Director

The Lost Cause (Part 1 & 2)

Are we still living with the racial divide left over from the Civil War? The Lost Cause is an audio documentary that explores the history of a conflict that nearly tore America apart. You’ll hear historians and a former US senator from Alabama explain the ideology that came to be known as the Lost Cause.⁴

  • Recommended by Pat Malone, Legal Director, New York Justice Initiatives

Assata: An Autobiography

Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. This personal and political autobiography is an important contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America.⁵

  • Recommended by Paul Bennett, Finance Director

After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging

After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, written by Willie James Jennings, is an inaugural volume of the Theological Education between the Times series. Jennings shares the insights gained from his extensive experience in theological education, most notably as the dean of a major’s divinity school–where he remains one of the only African Americans to have ever served in that role. “It is part memoir, part decolonial analysis, and part poetry—a multimodal discourse that deliberately transgresses boundaries, as Jennings hopes theological education will do, too.”⁶

  • Recommended by Tim Baran, New York Justice Initiatives Program Director 

Master Slave Husband Wife

In 1848, a young enslaved couple plan and execute a daring escape from slavery and travel hundreds of miles north for freedom and safety. They meet up with anti-slavery activists and join the abolitionist lecture circuit, all while their lives are in peril. By author and historian Ilyon Woo.⁷

  • Recommended by Pat Malone, New York Justice Initiatives Legal Director






https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/50376048 ⁷https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Master-Slave-Husband-Wife/Ilyon-Woo/9781501191053


Pro Bono Net, Equal Justice Works, and Lone Star Legal Aid are pleased to share a Practising Law Institute (PLI) CLE program for pro bono managers, volunteers, and nonprofit legal aid professionals responding to the impact of climate disasters around the country. The program, “New Developments in Climate Disaster Response & Resilience,” was co-chaired by Pro Bono Net and explores trending topics in climate disaster response. It also offers attendees an update on legal service and pro bono efforts after recent hurricanes and floodings impacting Florida and Puerto Rico. 

“This new program is the result of Pro Bono Net’s ongoing work, partnerships, and commitment to supporting individuals impacted by climate disasters,” said Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Senior Program Manager. “Climate change and its effects will continue to impact our communities significantly, but most of us are not prepared or ready to navigate the complexities of emergency management and recovery. When we share, compare, and learn from others who have already been through this, we are better positioned to respond and act faster. We don’t have to wait for a disaster to learn about what we can do as lawyers to help our communities. I encourage other attorneys and those working directly with disaster survivors to join our National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center at www.disasterlegalaid.org/advocates to stay updated on additional new developments, resources, and volunteer opportunities.” 

The CLE program is broken down into three segments in which they can be accessed:

  • Climate Solutions for a Better Tomorrow: Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) Practices and Climate change in the United States
  • Extreme Heat and Building Resiliency: Supporting Vulnerable Communities Amid Devastating Climate Change
  • Lessons Learned: How Advocates are Addressing Issues with FEMA’s Recent IAPPG Updates in Florida and Puerto Rico

This new program is an extension of the program: “Current and Emerging Issues in Disaster Response: Legal Strategies and Practices for Helping Survivors” that offers a comprehensive overview of the legal landscape after a disaster.

You can find the new program materials and segment recordings on the Practising Law Institute’s website here. This program is available at no cost and will be available on-demand for one year. Attorneys seeking CLE credit for their jurisdictions can see CLE details on the page. 

This program is offered as part of PLI’s pro bono curriculum, which provides the legal community with the training necessary to assist individuals in need of legal representation. For more information about PLI’s pro bono trainings, scholarships, and Pro Bono Membership, please visit www.pli.edu/probono

Google’s philanthropy is funding the next generation of technology supporting immigrant rights and legal support in the United States

Last week, Pro Bono Net’s nonprofit innovation incubator for technology solutions supporting the immigrant rights movement, Justicia Lab, announced substantial new funding and support from Google.org, Google’s philanthropy. The $500,000 grant will focus on improving access to justice in a fast-changing immigration legal system by expanding and integrating Justicia Lab’s award-winning digital tools. This project will increase safety and relief for thousands of immigrants nationwide including recent arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers, existing residents including those with DACA status, and those who have been in the United States for many years and are seeking citizenship.

The immigration landscape in the United States is complex, fragmented, and constantly changing. Approximately 1.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could be eligible for immigration benefits but don’t know it. Over 600,000 DACA recipients are in need of document renewal support and information while thousands others are unaware of their DACA eligibility, and hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers to America risk being kept in the dark by opaque and inadequate resources to keep up with a rapidly changing legal landscape. As new immigration challenges continue to unfold and immigration reforms and policy continue to shapeshift, immigrant advocates are in need of flexible tools to screen clients, complete forms, triage cases, and provide remote legal assistance. 

This funding will help to create the first comprehensive digital solution for immigrants and their non-profit advocates to apply for affirmative relief and connect with trusted non-profit legal service providers. Google.org’s support will enable Justicia Lab to nationally scale a free and accessible universal intake and case referral tool. This new integrated platform will allow immigrants to understand the legal system and their rights within it, complete immigration forms, and help connect them to in-person and virtual support.

Following the successful development and deployment of this platform in border states, Justicia Lab intends to scale this technology and its network of partners to other states and municipalities, legal service agencies, community nonprofits, social justice groups,and government institutions seeking to gain efficiency and save on attorney time. 

“Google.org’s bold commitment to our work marks an important moment for public interest technology and the justice movement” says Justicia Lab Director Rodrigo Camarena. “Their support validates the importance of building national public digital infrastructure to give immigrants greater opportunities to understand and exercise their legal rights.” 

For this project, Justicia Lab’s team of designers, strategists, and attorneys will work with leading immigrant advocacy organizations, community and local government partners across America. Justicia Lab will lead on co-design and user engagement, product strategy and tech development, UI and UX design for mobile and web, and coalition and community capacity building and training. Justicia Lab applies additional equity considerations to this work, addressing longstanding trust issues that many immigrants experience with technology by prioritizing data and privacy security and language access.

“As an immigrant from Venezuela, I know first hand the challenges that face families seeking  safety, stability and new opportunities,” said Hector Mujica, Head of Economic Opportunity for Google.org in the Americas. “We’re proud to support Justicia Lab as they work to build the digital infrastructure necessary to support the immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers with the legal support they deserve.” 

Having one universal digital tool will address geographic barriers between immigrant need and provider availability by allowing people to remotely access a national network of legal aid organizations and pro bono attorneys. Recent research by the Center for Migration studies points to legal capacity ‘deserts’ across America – what they identity as ‘areas with too few legal immigration professionals’ –  with a national average of 1,413 undocumented persons in the United States for every charitable legal professional and an even more imbalanced ratio in states like Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, Georgia and Virginia.

About Pro Bono Net

Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit leader in building technology and collaborations that increase access to justice. From connecting attorneys to those most in need to creating legal tools to help individuals advocate for themselves, Pro Bono Net makes the law work for the many and not the few. 

About Justicia Lab

Justicia Lab is Pro Bono Net’s immigrant justice technology lab, and a nonprofit legal tech initiative whose mission is to transform immigrant justice through collaboration, creativity, and technology. We work hand in hand with immigrants and their advocates to identify common challenges and incubate scalable digital tools to advance help immigrants navigate our immigration system, find workplace justice, and more. Justicia Lab has developed over a dozen immigrant justice legal tools to scale and support the work of advocates and bridge the justice gap, helping over 500,000 people find critical immigration information and relief.

About Google.org

Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, product donations and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. We engage nonprofits, social enterprises and civic entities who make a significant impact on the communities they serve, and whose work has the potential to produce scalable, meaningful change.

At Pro Bono Net, we’re always working to make our products and websites the best they can be. This means ensuring that websites are easy-to-use, and use the latest in responsive design. Last year we launched a new and improved LawHelp platform design, which is now rolled out to all 20 LawHelp sites across the country. Now we’re doing the same for the probono.net platform, our flagship product that supports more than 20 national and statewide justice networks and over 80,000 pro bono volunteers and nonprofit legal advocates working collaboratively to tackle pressing justice issues.

Introducing the JusticeHub design:

This new design, finalized in December, is the result of our efforts to re-think how probono.net sites are used by our partners, combined with our work to make all our sites beautiful, easy-to-navigate, and engaging. Built using Bootstrap, the industry standard for mobile-first and responsive design, the JusticeHub design brings a fresh and modern look to probono.net sites. 

With the new design, current and new probono.net partners will be able to choose from a variety of different layout options and four WCAG-AA accessible color palettes. Visit our demo site to explore these new layout options. The new design is bundled with other new probono.net features, including: 

  • Legal Server integration with the New Cases tool to facilitate posting of cases 
  • For states also using the LawHelp platform, seamless integration with your LawHelp directory to make referrals easier to find. See this example on TenantHelpNY
  • Native icon library for use in icon cards, flex pages and elsewhere  
  • Optional widgets, including AddThis social sharing and UserWay accessibility tools
  • Optional integration with G-Translate, a machine-assisted translation module 
  • Support for Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google’s newest reporting suite, as well as an admin-only analytics dashboard.

As with all probono.net sites, our partners will still have the same set of pro bono and advocate support tools, as well as industry standard support and guidance from our team of in-house experts.

Through one one-stop access to pro bono opportunities, trainings, searchable libraries, and networking tools, the probono.net platform mobilizes pro bono volunteers, strengthens the work of nonprofit legal advocates, and promotes collaboration within justice communities working to tackle common issues. Recently released features also make it easier for programs to deliver essential legal rights resources and referral information for the public, alongside their advocacy resources. Visit our partner networks in Louisiana, Washington State, Georgia, and New York, along with the national Justice Impact Network, to see several of these new features and design upgrades in action. 

Interested in learning more about using the JusticeHub design in your community? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Sam Harden, Program Manager, at sharden@probono.net with any questions or if you would like more information.

Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz is Pro Bono Net’s Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager. She coordinates, develops, and grows state and national digital projects that strengthen the work of legal advocates and pro bono attorneys helping individuals with their legal problems. Jeanne manages Remote Legal Connect, a new technology tool that facilitates remote pro bono projects, virtual consultations, and document sharing between legal aid, volunteer attorneys, and pro bono clients.  In 2021, Jeanne received the On the Rise 40 Top Young Lawyers award for her work in disaster relief and leadership in the American Bar Association.

After two years of virtual programming due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Innovations in Technology Conference was back in person this year with approximately 600 participants. The conference, hosted by the Legal Services Corporation, was held from January 19-21, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. The event convenes technologists, legal aid advocates, court personnel, law school professors, pro bono coordinators, and other professionals to learn about technology projects and tools that advance access to justice. The last ITC in person occurred in January 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Many in the community remembered it as the last conference they attended before Covid-19 caused shutdowns across the country. Here are four takeaways from my attendance at the conference this year. I also asked my colleagues to share their thoughts with me, which I’ve incorporated into this post. 

1. Most of this year’s sessions fell under the information technology / internal operations conference track.

Information technology or internal operations may seem an obvious theme given the conference is about technology, but it was interesting to compare that to last year’s themes. Conference sessions fall under multiple tracks, but this year, 37% of the sessions were about or included a component of “Information Technology / Internal Operations.” Other popular topics this year included sessions on self-help projects, websites and online tools, technology for advocates, and data. Contrary to this year, 2022’s most popular conference tracks were “Websites/ Online Tools” and “Self-Represented Litigants/ Self-Help.” In 2021 and 2022, ITC had a conference track for COVID-19 Response and Recovery, which this year did not include.* 

2. A special shout-out to regulatory reform and human-centered design

My colleague, Sam Harden, and Program Manager at Pro Bono Net mentioned he appreciated the positive discussion around regulatory reform, which LSC’s President, Ronald S. Flagg, set the tone for at the opening session. After attendees gathered for hot coffee and breakfast, Flagg welcomed everyone and talked about LSC’s latest Justice Gap Report, published in 2022. The study, consistent with LSC’s past three justice gap reports, found that low-income Americans sought legal help for only 19% of their collective civil legal problems in the past year. The report also showed that low-income Americans will approach LSC-funded legal aid organizations every year for help with an estimated 1.9 million civil legal problems that are eligible for assistance. However, those who approach LSC-funded organizations will only receive enough legal support to resolve their issue about 56% of the time. Flagg said that regulatory reform is one of the areas of the legal profession that is reducing the justice gap. For example, last fall, Stanford Law School’s Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession published “Legal Innovation After Reform: Evidence from Regulatory Change” to examine the regulatory reforms and innovations in Utah and Arizona. Two of the report’s co-authors highlight some of their findings here to show the positive impact of regulatory reform (e.g., addressing the unauthorized practice of law ethics rules appears to benefit low-income individuals navigating legal issues) and made an urgent call for innovation as a way to address the country’s access-to-justice crisis. For those who couldn’t attend and are interested in the discussions about regulatory change, the “Leveraging Regulatory Reform to Advance Access to Justice” session was live-streamed on Facebook and can be found here. Liz Keith, our Program Director, and Rodrigo Camarena, Director of Justicia Lab, also recently wrote about this and other innovations taking place to expand access to justice (see 3 tangible ways to ensure low-income Americans get the legal help they need). 

Flagg then welcomed Everett Harper, CEO and Co-Founder of Truss, a human-centered software development company. Harper walked us through his journey at Truss and reminded us of the superpower behind technology. He shared his experience working on www.Healthcare.gov and encouraged attendees to consider a few questions about human-centered design and technology: 

  • How do we create systems to enable more feedback? 
  • What is the feasibility of solving the problem we have identified? 
  • Do we really understand the problem? 

Feedback, sustainability, and scaling were all themes during the keynote. What can we learn from the products we design and the projects we implement over time? What patterns can we identify and learn from? Are there better ways to incorporate those lessons to make a case for regulatory reform?

3. Accessibility, technology + disasters(?), making change fun, and virtual reality

I attended ten sessions and learned something new from all of them. However, a few also stood out to me. The accessibility panel, “Ensuring Accessibility in Legal Technology: How it Enhances and Expands Your Reach,” was great. Panelists explained that without accessibility, there’s truly no access to the tools we build, and also spoke about website accessibility in times of climate disasters, like expanding this online guided interview to include disability accommodation questions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an online tool that helps people with disabilities to be emergency ready, and videos like this one to make legal rights information available in sign language. The “Unpacking the Intersectionality of Race, Language, and Poverty in Navigating the Digital Divide” session also touched on accessibility, and speakers made a convincing point about the importance of using data to address the needs of people who speak other languages. One of the speakers pointed out that although LSC’s Justice Gap Report was impactful and has the potential for a wide range of policy implications, it did not provide any analysis based on language usage in the United States. A proposed solution to make data accessible is to make language preference data from LSC grantees searchable by state and nationwide (separate by spoken/signed and written). Joshua Medina, Pro Bono Net’s new Legal User Experience Designer, said he also enjoyed the community’s investment and conversations about the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and also in developing accessible technology for communities marginalized by the legal system.

I thought there was much to learn from panelists’ experiences on accessibility and climate disaster responses. Unless there is an accessibility plan in place, there is often not a lot of time to think about the consequences and impact on communities that may need to access information and services in other ways. This led me to another thought: how can we better use technology in disaster preparedness or response to the rising impact of disasters across the country? In less than four weeks since we welcomed the new year, the federal government has already made four major disaster declarations. This doesn’t count the many regions still recovering from last year’s disasters. The conference also happened when places such as Georgia, Alabama, California, and Washington were beginning to grapple with the effects of severe weather. Most ITC sessions catered to a broad audience and spanned a wide range of topics, but with the increasing rate of more powerful and frequent disasters impacting our communities, I hope we can advocate for disaster-specific discussions about how technology can improve efficiency and organizational resilience to address the legal needs of disaster survivors.

I also enjoyed the “Making Change Successful and FUN” session by Lakeshore Legal Aid (MI) and TechBridge. Speakers talked about how they navigated the design, training, and implementation of a new case management system while making it fun. The session was full of practical strategies, chart and sheet templates they used to organize the transition to the new system, and even examples of haikus written by staff saying goodbye to the old system. 

Another colleague, Alison Corn, and Legal Solutions Designer at Pro Bono Net shared that one of her favorite sessions was “The Courtroom as a Metaverse Node: Using Cross-Field Collaboration to Innovate Using 360 Video and Virtual Reality (VR).” When I asked her if she could share a takeaway from the session, she said, “VR isn’t just the newest tech experience in the space, but it’s also an incredibly robust tool that we can leverage to create idealized legal spaces that lessen retraumatization for litigants.” She provided an example of how Youtopian, a human-centered AI XR global innovation company, determined through usability testing that using mountains was extremely triggering for the veterans because of their military experiences. As a result, they removed the mountains to create a more idealized space. Alison concluded,  “if we could use this same approach in creating legal spaces, I see such huge potential in lessening the retraumatization so many vulnerable litigants face every single day in the courtroom.”

4. Pro Bono Net’s Representation and Social Gatherings at the Conference 

Pro Bono Net staff also presented on increasing access to legal help online, API-driven integrations in the civil justice sector, emerging usability research, and strategies to improve the discoverability of online legal rights content. In addition, our new Director of Business Development, Megan Vizzini, staffed the exhibit table, and we had an opportunity to share more about our programs, answer questions from visitors, and stamp passports for LSC’s Passport Contest (the winner received free registration for the next conference in Charlotte, North Carolina). I also asked Megan about her experience and she said she appreciated the exhibitor location was in a high-traffic location compared to other conferences she had been to where the exhibitors were on a side hallway. Megan also pointed out that it was great to see existing Pro Bono Net partners and prospective partners.

She said, “We had the opportunity to have many engaging conversations around current projects, future collaborations and discussions around what’s next in the space. The Pro Bono Net social event on Thursday night was especially memorable!” This social event was possible thanks to the conference’s Whova application. It was easy to organize an informal meet-up for partners and anyone who wanted to join and learn about what’s new at Pro Bono Net. 

More pictures from ITC:

Pro Bono Net’s Program Manager, Sam Harden, presenting on strategies to improve the discoverability of online legal rights content. 

Session: “Googling Justice: SEO, Schema Markup, and other Strategies to Connect the Public with Legal Help Online

Liz Keith, Program Director at Pro Bono Net, presenting on usability testing findings and how we can make our products more welcoming and inclusive.

Session: “But Does it Help?: Actionable and Meaningful Insights from Recent Usability Research” 

Pro Bono Net’s exhibit table. Attendees also had access to coffee and snacks throughout the day.

*Based on the conference’s Whova App agenda. Last year’s track analysis was based on the online schedule for ITC 2022.

Funding and partnership to advance digital infrastructure supporting the immigrants rights movement for the Houston metropolitan area

Last week, Justicia Lab, the nonprofit innovation incubator for technology solutions supporting the immigrant rights movement, announced a new $1 million grant from the Houston Endowment. Justicia Lab, a program of Pro Bono Net, creates digital tools that advance immigrant justice through collaboration and helps immigrants to navigate the legal system and their rights within it. This new funding from the Houston Endowment marks the largest single contribution in the initiative’s 15 year history and an important milestone in the national immigrant and refugee grantmaking landscape by directly investing in the development of nonprofit public interest technology.

Justicia Lab will apply the funds toward improving and integrating digital infrastructure so that immigrants in the Houston metro area can better access justice within a fast-changing legal system. The goal of the partnership is to co-create and pilot a first of its kind comprehensive universal intake and case referral platform to support recent arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers, existing residents including those with DACA status, and those who have been in the United States for many years and are seeking citizenship. This free and accessible tool will integrate and improve existing Justicia Lab and Pro Bono Net platforms that help people understand their eligibility for immigration relief (Immi), complete immigration forms and apply for naturalization (Citizenshipworks), and connect them to in-person and virtual legal assistance (Immigration Law Help, Immigration Advocates Network, and Remote Legal Connect). 

“The creation of a unified tool that can help streamline and simplify the delivery of legal assistance for both immigrants and their advocates has long been a North Star for the immigrants’ rights movement,” said Justicia Lab Director Rodrigo Camarena. “We are so grateful to Houston Endowment for their support and partnership on this issue – it’s an ambitious commitment to making a significant positive impact in the lives of thousands of Houstonians that will also help us build a stronger national immigrants’ rights infrastructure.”

As a border region and major metropolitan area as well as being the most diverse city in the US, Houston has been the epicenter of national conversations around issues in immigrant support. From aiding unaccompanied minors, assisting asylum seekers, or supporting the arrival of Afghan evacuees, Houston’s immigration legal service providers have had to quickly mobilize and coordinate resources to tackle new and difficult challenges. The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, highlighting the need for local advocates to have a strong tech infrastructure that enhances coordination and expands legal resources, including access to national pro bono legal assistance.

“Houston’s greatest asset is its immense diversity, and we are deeply committed to ensuring that new Houstonians move along the pathway to citizenship,” said Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment. “Justicia Lab’s innovative approach provides a unique and distinctive way to serve residents in this way which will, in turn, strengthen our region.”

Justicia Lab will work with its new partners to co-design and pilot the tool with initial use in the Houston metro area, with plans to later scale the tool nationally. Expected Houston partners for the pilot include the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC), Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston, Galveston-Houston Immigrant Representation Project (GHIRP), YMCA of Greater Houston, Boat People SOS (BPSOS), and Bonding Against Adversity.

“This tool could be a game-changer for immigrants seeking to learn more about potential immigration relief available to them and to access immigration legal services through a streamlined referral portal,” said Zenobia Lai, Executive Director of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC). “This tool will minimize the trauma experienced by immigrants in having to recount their experience repeatedly as they seek assistance from different legal services providers. We are excited to partner with Justicia Lab to bring technology to improve access to justice for immigrants.”

Once piloted later this year, the platform will equip immigrants and their advocates, community navigators, and legal staff with plain-language, translated, multimedia educational resources to provide them with more information on their status and U.S. immigration law. This next generation of tools and resources will provide the technological infrastructure to connect immigrants and to a legal support system of community based organizations, legal service providers, and pro bono attorneys.


About Justicia Lab

Justicia Lab is Pro Bono Net’s immigrant justice technology lab, and a nonprofit legal tech initiative whose mission is to transform immigrant justice through collaboration, creativity, and technology. We work hand in hand with immigrants and their advocates to identify common challenges and incubate scalable digital tools to advance help immigrants navigate our immigration system, find workplace justice, and more. Justicia Lab has developed over a dozen immigrant justice legal tools to scale and support the work of advocates and bridge the justice gap, helping over 500,000 people find critical immigration information and relief. 

About Pro Bono Net

Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit leader in building technology and collaborations that increase access to justice. From connecting attorneys to those most in need to creating legal tools to help individuals advocate for themselves, Pro Bono Net makes the law work for the many and not the few. 

About Houston Endowment

Houston Endowment is a private foundation that partners with others to achieve a vibrant and inclusive region where all residents can thrive. We advance equity of opportunity through deep commitments to PreK-12 public education and civic engagement; support cultural assets that engage and connect us; and drive sustainable change across our region. 

Pro Bono Net will be well represented at the 2023 Innovations in Technology Conference (ITC) this week, and we hope to see you there! The conference takes place January 19-21, 2023 in Phoenix and is hosted by the Legal Services Corporation. ITC brings together more than 600 legal aid advocates, court personnel, technologists and other professionals exploring new ways of using technology to expand access to justice.

Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and collaboration. For more than twenty years, we’ve worked hand in hand with partners in the legal aid sector and access to justice movement to tackle big problems and bring new technology and resources to where they’re needed the most.

This year, we are presenting or moderating sessions related to increasing access to legal help online, API-driven integrations in the civil justice sector, emerging usability research, and strategies to increase the discoverability of online legal rights content. See below for where you can find us, or stop by our booth in the exhibitors area!

For details on the many other excellent sessions offered at ITC 2023,  please visit LSC’s ITC website. You can also follow ITC online via #LSCITC or LSC’s Facebook page, where several sessions will be livestreamed.

Friday, January 20, 2023

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
Legal Information Website Affinity Group

  • Liz Keith, State and National Program Director, Pro Bono Net 
  • Margaret Hagan, Executive Director, Legal Design Lab at Stanford University
  • Angela Tripp, Director, Michigan Legal Help Program

1:45 PM – 3:00 PM
From Niche to Necessity: Making the Most of APIs in the Civil Justice Ecosystems

But Does it Help?: Actionable and Meaningful Insights from Recent Usability Research

  • Liz Keith, Liz Keith, State and National Program Director, Pro Bono Net 
  • Eric Vang, Senior Technology Attorney, Alaska Legal Services Corporation
  • Sarah Mauet, UX4Justice Director and Professor of Practice, Innovation for Justice, University of Arizona College of Law & University of Utah School of Business

3:45 PM – 5:00 PM
Googling Justice: SEO, Schema Markup, and other Strategies to Connect the Public with Legal Help Online

In addition to Pro Bono Net ITC panelists, other team members attending include:  Business Development Director Megan Vizzini, Justicia Lab Director Rodrigo Camarena, Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Legal Solutions Designer Alison Corn and Legal User Experience Designer Josh Medina.

Pro Bono Net’s Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager, Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, is representing Pro Bono Net in the Leadership Fellows New York Program this fall. The New York Community Trust and the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College established the program in 2015. 

Leadership Fellows New York is the premier professional development opportunity for mid-career nonprofit practitioners in the metropolitan New York City region. The fellowship program seeks to build the leadership skills and knowledge of nonprofit leaders advancing social justice missions in New York and beyond. You can learn more here

During the program, fellows participate in class sessions relevant to the administration and growth of nonprofit organizations. Fellows also work on a “change project” with a mentor. Jeanne’s change project focuses on measuring impact, and her mentor is Joseph E. Luesse, founding partner and CEO at 8RES, a Research, Evaluation, and Strategy consulting firm. 

Pro Bono Net thanks the New York Community Trust and the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College for their work and support of New York City’s nonprofit leaders. To see a list of the Fall 2022 fellows cohort, click here.

In 2005, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) approached Pro Bono Net for advice on how CLINIC could improve its technology, training and communications infrastructure to improve its network’s capacity to scale services in the event of a mass legalization program. Soon, with financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the JEHT Foundation, we invited the Advocates for Human Rights, the Immigration Legal Resources Center and seven other nonprofit leaders in the immigrants’ rights sector to join us in creating an entity to improve the sector’s strategic use of technology to respond, share knowledge, collaborate, and directly support millions of immigrants nationwide. Thus began Pro Bono Net’s immigrant justice initiative, known as the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN).

Nearly fifteen years after that first conversation and more than 500,000 people impacted later, we’re so excited to announce that the Pro Bono Net initiative known as the Immigrant Advocates Network will now be known as Justicia Lab, Pro Bono Net’s incubator for immigrant justice technology. 

The new name reflects our team’s commitment to innovation and the communities that we serve. And it points to a new era for the organization as the leading nonprofit innovation incubator for immigrant justice technology and an expanded role developing digital tools to help immigrants navigate our immigration system, find workplace justice, and more.

In a moment where our democracy and institutions have never been more fragile, this theme across Pro Bono Net and Justicia Lab’s work of leveraging technology and collaboration to expand access to justice for our most vulnerable communities couldn’t be more important. Whether it’s a young mother experiencing domestic violence and using LawHelp Interactive to obtain an order of protection against their abuser, a low-income family in Georgia using GeorgiaLegalAid.org to stay housed in the face of an unlawful eviction, or a construction worker in New York state having the tools to fight back again stolen wages with Justicia Lab’s tool ¡Reclamo!, our work and partnerships bring life-changing relief to hundreds of thousands of people around the country.

For us, access to justice means not just having good and fair laws, but making sure that those laws are understandable and accessible to those with the fewest resources. It means creating tools that lead to legal empowerment rather than distrust, that build a culture of community-driven legal care and rebalance the scales of justice to make our legal system fairer for everyone, especially those historically excluded from it.. 

In our view true social innovation doesn’t come from disruption for the sake of disruption, it comes from co-designing and building new resources and partnerships that can amplify, scale and support the most impactful solution we already have – the advocates, organizers and volunteers on the ground who are already working to address injustice. 

With so much at stake right now, Pro Bono Net and Justicia Lab are doubling down on our mission to be an anchor for developing public, not for profit, and safe digital legal solutions, regardless of what direction politics and governance in this country goes. We will continue to be a steady and committed legal and technology partner to legal aid organizations, community nonprofits, social justice groups, and others, and to work together to build programs and campaigns that address the root causes of inequality. Because people in this country deserve resources that will help them understand their rights, feel safe and supported, and make their voice heard when their home, family or livelihood is at stake.

We will continue to build solutions that address longstanding trust and access issues including keeping our resources free for the public to use, using plain language and embedding language justice, and prioritizing data privacy.  

We look forward to strengthening existing initiatives and tools and building new ones and to continue to ensure technology is an equalizing force in justice movements and not a tool that exacerbates power imbalances. Thank you for your continued partnership and support.

Since 1992, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC) has helped more than 69,000 veterans with their legal issues, as well as trained more than 6,000 volunteers to assist them with their legal issues. TVC has been using the pro bono.net platform for over a decade to provide services for veterans and support volunteers, and collaborated with Pro bono Net to launch a fully redesigned site in May. Vetsprobono.org is a key resource for veterans looking to get legal assistance in upgrading their discharge status, becoming a naturalized citizen, or filing an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The site also serves volunteers looking for information, or wanting to sign up to take a pro bono case.

Our website is an invaluable resource for both our volunteer attorneys as well as veterans and their loved ones. Our goal with the new design was to create a website that is easy to navigate for people who are visiting for a variety of reasons.” – Cate Jackson, Communications & Outreach Manager at The Veterans Consortium

In 2021 the Vets Pro Bono site averaged over 50,000 users. In the previous design, the site had organically grown multiple user paths that, over time, didn’t correspond to easy user journeys. As part of the redesign the TVC team worked with PBN to re-think what paths would more easily get users to resources that would serve their needs. 

For veterans, the Vets Pro Bono site now provides a clear pathway for them to address the common issues they face via a banner on the homepage, as well as a veterans-specific page. On the issue-specific pages, Vets Pro Bono has customized pathways for veterans to either apply for services or get more information on that specific issue. 

For advocates and attorneys, the new site now offers distinct pathways to materials and pro bono cases categorized by common types of cases. Using issue-specific pages, the TVC team can organize materials for volunteers, as well as provide case-type-specific pathways to the members-only site tools. The new design works to visually guide users through these pathways with clear visual elements such as large buttons and accordions.

One of the highest-use features of the site has been the probono.net platform’s cases tool, a way for Vets Pro Bono to list available pro bono cases that site members can request. The issue-specific pages now provide paths to views of the cases tool that are pre-filtered by area of law. 

The new design was created by Kristen Argenio of Ideal Design Co, who has designed other Pro Bono Net sites such as TenantHelpNY.org and JusticeImpactNetwork.org. 

Interested in learning more about TVC’s work and how to get involved? Visit TVC’s resources for volunteer attorneys and supporters