Pro Bono Net, a national, nonprofit leader in innovative programs that increase access to justice, is pleased to announce that Tiffany Graves, Pro Bono Counsel at Bradley and Charley Moore, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer, have joined the Pro Bono Net Board of Directors. 

Tiffany Graves serves as Bradley’s Pro Bono Counsel, where she oversees the development and administration of the firm’s pro bono programs. Tiffany says, “I have long admired the work of Pro Bono Net. As Pro Bono Counsel, my full-time work is focused on finding ways to connect our attorneys with those most in need. Like other law firms, we benefit from the crucial services provided by Pro Bono Net that increase access to attorneys and equalize the legal system. I am excited to serve on the Board and look forward to supporting Pro Bono Net’s important work in this way.” Prior to joining Bradley, Tiffany was the executive director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, where she led a 21-member commission created by the Mississippi Supreme Court and promoted its initiatives to improve and expand access to civil justice to the nearly 700,000 Mississippians living in poverty. Tiffany also currently serves as Co-President of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo). 

Charley Moore, is the Founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer. Rocket Lawyer is one of the most widely used legal services in the world, with operations in the US, the UK and Europe. Millions of people and organizations use Rocket Lawyer to access affordable and complete digital legal services. Charley says, “I look forward to serving on the board and helping to facilitate much needed assistance to people and organizations who otherwise may find justice out of reach.”

Pro Bono Net is fortunate to have Tiffany’s experience as a leader in racial justice issues and Charley’s hands on knowledge serving consumer needs to lend perspective to our public facing programs.

Please help us welcome Tiffany and Charley and visit our website to see their full bio’s and the complete board of directors’ listing. 

Legal Aid of Nebraska, in partnership with Pro Bono Net, is pleased to announce the launch of Legal Aid Connect (https://www.legalaidconnect.org/LAN). Legal Aid Connect is an on-line platform that enables Legal Aid of Nebraska to enroll, manage, and connect staff and pro bono attorneys with remotely located clients for advice, counsel and form preparation. Legal Aid of Nebraska offers free legal services to low-income people across the State of Nebraska. 

Through Legal Aid Connect, Legal Aid of Nebraska can connect clients and pro bono attorneys, no matter where the client lives in the State. The attorneys meet virtually with their clients and simultaneously share, store, and complete documents during a consultation. This resource is particularly valuable during the ongoing pandemic. “The acquisition of Legal Aid Connect has helped us bridge the communication gap, caused by the pandemic, between attorneys and clients,” said Muirne Heaney, Managing Attorney of the Access to Justice Program at Legal Aid of Nebraska. “We already have used the platform for two name change clinics. The platform ran seamlessly. We were able to help many people with the name change process because of the platform. The platform has become an essential tool for communicating with clients.” 

Because the platform operates through the internet, clients do not have to download or install any software, application or plug-ins, making it easier for the client to connect to the attorney. Legal Aid Connect also is mobile-friendly, giving clients a way to connect from their phones or portable devices. When an attorney and client finish their meeting, which may include document preparation and review, the client can get to the completed documents at any time, download or print, and file with the court. Both clients and attorneys can also access content created, updated and uploaded to Legal Aid Connect by Legal Aid of Nebraska. 


To learn more about Remote Legal Connect’s uses in other regions, please visit https://www.probono.net/programs/rlc/. The Remote Legal Connect platform was originally created in partnership with Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) to stand up Family Legal Connection, a remote pro bono service for self represented family court litigants in New York. The platform was enhanced for use in other states with support from an American Bar Endowment Opportunity Grant, among other funders.

 

After witnessing the recent attacks and harmful rhetoric against our community, I was reminded of what it meant to be an Asian-American in today’s society: invisible, dismissed, and unnoticed. Like other members of the Asian-American community, I was taught that our experiences did not matter – that we were side characters who were expected to keep our head down. 

However, it is long overdue for our stories, our struggles, and our pains to be recognized and heard.

After Donald Trump’s “Chinese Virus” tweet at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an alarming spike of violence and anti-Asian sentiment. The Atlanta spa shootings, destruction of Asian-American owned businesses, vicious assaults, and racial slurs across the country are few examples of this sudden escalation. Yet history has proven that these attitudes and attacks are not unfamiliar: we have always been the outsiders. The Yellow Peril, Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps, model minority myth, and more demonstrate the longstanding legacy of pervasive racism and violence that has existed within our society for decades. 

Pro Bono Net continues to stand beside all of the individuals that have been greatly affected and hurt during this time. We mourn the lives of the eight victims who died during the Atlanta spa shoots, we send out condolences to the loved ones who survive them, and we stand together with all those who are targeted by racist rhetoric and violent attacks in our country.


Pro Bono Net is grateful to Jillian Jin, AmeriCorps Vista working with our Immigration Advocates Network program, for writing this important piece addressing the recent hate crimes committed against the Asian American community. You can read Jillian’s bio on our website, here.

In recognition of Farmworker Awareness Week (March 25th – 31st) and Cesar Chavez Day (March 31st), we invited Iris Figueroa, Director of Economic and Environmental Justice at Farmworker Justice, to guest author today’s blog post reminding us of some of the unique challenges of farmworker’s today. A workforce that truly embodies the definition of essential worker – farmworkers continue to be excluded from labor protections and immigration benefits and the threat of COVID-19 has made the occupation that more difficult and dangerous. 


More than 2.4 million farmworkers labor in fields across the country to ensure the stability of our food supply. Despite their designation as essential workers, farmworkers continue to be subjected to discriminatory exclusions from basic labor rights. Additionally, due to the many barriers farmworkers face, those labor protections that do exist are often not enforced. This must change.

Agricultural work is a dangerous—and sometimes deadly—occupation. Violations of basic health and safety protections are all too common.  But because many farmworkers are undocumented, they fear retaliation when speaking up about mistreatment or seeking help. And those who do complain often discover that our labor laws lack the basic but critical protections guaranteed to other workers. The people who risk their lives to put food on our tables deserve better.

Farmworkers continue to be excluded from many of the most fundamental wage and hour protections guaranteed to workers in almost every other sector of the American economy. These unequal labor laws are the result of compromises from the 1930s in which southern legislators agreed to only vote for vital labor protections if farmworkers and domestic workers, who were predominantly Black, were excluded from the law’s coverage. It is past time that Congress addresses this by striking the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) exclusion of farmworkers from overtime, remaining exemptions to the minimum wage, and exclusions from unionizing and collective bargaining rights.

At the same time, more than half of the country’s farmworkers are undocumented immigrants. Without legal status, these workers are unable to challenge dangerous and unfair working conditions without fear of retaliation and deportation; conditions for all workers suffer as a consequence. Legislation creating a pathway to immigration status and citizenship for farmworkers and their families is urgently needed to ensure a more just, stable, and secure agricultural system.

Additionally, a growing number of the nation’s farmworkers are guestworkers on H-2A temporary agricultural visas. The H-2A program allows growers to apply for guestworker visas, so long as they are able to show (1) that there are not enough available, willing and qualified U.S. workers, and (2) that the recruitment of guestworkers will not adversely affect wage and work conditions in the U.S. The number of visas approved each year has exploded, with more than 275,000 visas granted in FY 2020. These H-2A visa holders are denied a true immigration status and often arrive indebted due to the costs of obtaining the job. For these and other reasons, H-2A guestworkers are vulnerable and often experience abuse and exploitation.

Farmworkers have also been hit especially hard by the COVID pandemic. Because many farmworkers survive on very low wages, they often experience overcrowding in housing and transportation, increasing their exposure to the virus. Conditions are rarely better on the job, where many report that their employers fail to provide them with adequate information, masks, handwashing facilities, or other protective gear. And because of the migratory nature of the work, farmworkers rarely have consistent or reliable access to health care, including vaccines.

Yet even before the COVID pandemic, agricultural work was one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, despite the fact that many of the injuries, illnesses, and deaths suffered by farmworkers are preventable. The frequent use of pesticides and the resulting toxic drift across rural communities endangers the health of farmworkers and their families. Climate change also has a disparate impact on this community due to the dangerous temperatures that increase the already high risk of heat stress.

Lack of immigration status, exclusions from basic labor rights, economic insecurity and occupational health and safety risks are all factors that affect the daily lives of farmworkers and their families. This reality is the result of decades of unequal policies that continue to this day. It is long past the time for this shameful legacy to be addressed.

For more information on these issues and how you can support farmworkers, please visit www.farmworkerjustice.org

You can also access a state-by-state summary of farmworker rights, including links to farmworker legal services organizations, here.

Below is a Q&A with Pro Bono Net’s LawHelpNY Program Associate. This Q&A was originally published in the NY Crime Victims Legal Network’s newsletter

What do you do at LawHelpNY/ Pro Bono Net?

I look to deliver on our program goals, particularly with the NY Crime Victims Legal Help and the LawHelpNY platforms. I focus on adding reliable content to our sites and engage with legal aid organizations and our partners in ensuring their information is up-to-date. I also look ahead at technical and visual ways to practically make our online community more engaging and useful to the advocates who are doing the important work on the ground assisting those in search of legal help.

What motivates you to be active in this work?

I know firsthand that getting legal help is incredibly daunting when you don’t know where or who to go to for assistance, or even that you have the right to do so. I’m motivated to make getting Know Your Rights information and access to a pro bono lawyer as easy as I possibly can for those visiting our sites.

How can technology help crime victims, advocates & legal professionals?

Technology is helping us break barriers in getting crime victims the help they need, whether it’s legal information now accessible from a smartphone to e-filing platforms to virtual hearings. There is still much to be done; we have to address the lack of access to wi-fi for many, especially in rural areas, and the loss of social supports amidst the current pandemic. That said, strides are being made across the country in using technology to make legal help as accessible as possible, no matter what your financial situation or background may be.

What has been your favorite project to work on thus far?

This isn’t so much a project as an ongoing favorite, but I love working with the Advocate Gateway on NY Crime Victims Legal Help. I’m always excited to ask myself what could be more intuitive about the area for advocates using it and then go through the process of brainstorming with our team on what we can do to make it more logical and visually clean so that the key content, things like our library resources, can stand out.

What is your favorite thing about your job/career?

I love being able to connect with such a diverse community from advocates and attorneys, to law students to program managers; I’m in a position where I can teach others about our work and sites, but also learn so much from them about the direct service work that they do. It is a rich experience, and it’s in these conversations that I am informed to make our online community that much better.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?

I’ll try a lot of things once, just to take a chance and then I’m kind of reserved the rest of the time! I’ve tried out for a reality show once, ran one marathon, spoken at one conference, published one poem… what to try next?!

Pro Bono Net is pleased to join leading civil legal aid and immigrant rights organizations in Georgia in announcing the launch of GeorgiaVictimNetwork.org, a new statewide resource to help victims of crime learn about their rights, identify their legal needs, and connect with resources and representation opportunities. 

GeorgiaVictimNetwork.org was created in collaboration with the Georgia Victim Legal Assistance Network (VLAN), which includes the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Georgia Asylum and Immigrant Network, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Network. Funding for the project was provided by the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). Georgia’s VLAN network also uses Navigators with the four main civil legal agency partners as advocates who can assist crime victims using the website.

The site was developed using the probono.net platform and dynamically integrates referral information from GeorgiaLegalAid.org, Georgia’s statewide legal information website. The project builds off Pro Bono Net’s experience co-designing CrimeVictimsHelpNY.org, New York’s statewide resource for victims to learn about their rights, connect with resources and obtain assistance. 

Civil legal resources can be scarce or difficult to access in Georgia in rural and urban communities. The website features a searchable legal service help directory with filters to help victims find organizations that can assist with specific issues; a self-help resource library to inform them of their rights; and access to online self-help forms on a range of issues. It also features a dedicated gateway for nonprofit legal and victim services advocates assisting victims to access and share practitioner resources and trainings.

GLSP/VLAN Project Director, Vicky Kimbrell said: Georgia Legal Services is proud to be part of this project and we are really excited about its potential. The ‘Know Your Rights’ library and the free legal forms sections available to provide current, accurate information to any victim of crime who has civil legal concerns.  Survivors can get forms for Family Violence Protective Orders, Divorce forms, and applications for TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, Victims Compensation, and child support assistance to provide financial supports for families to establish their independence from violence.” 

Pro Bono Net Program Director Liz Keith said, “Georgia VLAN offers a victim-centered  online resource to help survivors access a network of resources and services that can help them in legal matters pertaining to housing, family law, employment and more. Pro Bono Net is honored to be part of this effort to expand VLAN’s capacity to reach more victims statewide and to strengthen the essential work of organizations and advocates assisting them.”

During summer 2020, Pro Bono Net and Georgia VLAN partnered with the Weil, Gotshal & Manges associates’ Summer of Service program to develop legal rights resources for GeorgiaVictimNetwork.org. Weil associate Elizabeth Barras provided vital legal research and content development support for the project. 

Visit GeorgiaVictimNetwork.org to learn more about the Georgia Victim Legal Assistance Network. To learn more about the history of Victim Legal Assistance Networks and similar projects in other states, visit the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI)’s Victim Networks toolkit.

According to the AmeriCorps website, the AmeriCorps Vista program began in 1965 and “over 220,000 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program have joined the fight against poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change.”

The 2021 AmeriCorps Week commenced March 7th and continues until March 13th. To mark the occasion, we are proud to highlight two of our current Vistas: Dennis Brink, our LawHelpNY AmeriCorps Vista; and Jillian Jin, our Immigration Advocates Network AmeriCorps Vista. We asked them to share their experiences with the Vista program and the work they are doing with Pro Bono Net. 

How did you learn about the AmeriCorps Vista program and what made you interested in joining?

Dennis Brink: When I was studying my undergraduate degree at Arcadia University, I had a work study with the Community Service Office on campus. While working with the office, I was exposed to the Americorps and Vista programs, through  constant engagement with Cindy Rubino the director of the office, and fellow students and alumni. 

Upon graduating from Arcadia University, I became part of a Young Adults in Global Mission program run by the ELCA. I moved to Budapest, Hungary, and began working with a local non profit organization, Phiren Amenca. During my time at Phiren  Amenca, I was exposed to the innate injustices which exist within our society, and how access to justice remains unreachable by large portions of the global community. Fueled by my desire to assist in closing the justice gap, I decided to join the Vista program.  I felt like becoming a Vista would allow me to channel my passion for  social justice into my daily life and future career in the public sector. Selecting the LawHelp NY Vista position, allowed me to work on developing sustainable solutions to gaps within the communities access to justice.

Jillian Jin: In college, I worked under a federal grant that focused on preventing and responding to sexual violence on campus. I made revisions to college policies, provided advocacy and support to students, and expanded resources within the community. Realizing the barriers that survivors faced when obtaining and understanding complicated legal information, I wanted to gain more experience with an organization that focused on access to justice. When discussing these goals with other partners in the nonprofit sphere, they all recommended doing a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA before I applied to law school. After researching more about the program, it was an easy decision to apply – it seemed like a great opportunity to gain work experience with underserved communities, enhance my understanding of how to combat inequality, improve my personal skills, and more. 

Dennis, how long have you been a Vista and what is the nature of the work you are doing with LawHelpNY?

Dennis: I am in my third consecutive year long term, serving as the Vista for LawHelpNY. 

My role with LawHelpNY is mostly committed to assisting in the running of our premier LiveHelp program. I assist in the day to day operations of the programming by assisting with volunteer management. My duties include, scheduling volunteers for shifts, aiding in the volunteer onboarding process; assisting with volunteer recruitment, and reviewing all volunteer applications for program admittance. 

My role also includes providing innovative solutions and insight to  building both the capacity and sustainability of the LiveHelp Program. I assist in the development of new tools we have for volunteer management, like the implementation and creation of our Galaxy management software, as well the potential expansion of volunteers ability to engage users throughout our social media platforms. Furthermore, I also run projects on expanding the scope and reach of our current platform, to expand our service delivery model, expanding the reach of meaningful legal access to the community.

Data analytics is also a major feature and function of my day to day responsibilities. I assist in the collection program numbers for grant reporting metrics, as well as providing numbers for new potential grant opportunities. In addition, I run, and structure monthly livehelp data reports, and work on creating a more fluid and sustainable data system structure for the LawHelpNY program.

Jillian, how long have you been a Vista and what is the nature of the work you are doing with Immigration Advocates Network?

Jillian: I have been a VISTA with Pro Bono Net and Immigration Advocates Network since last June. My role is to connect legal service providers and nonprofit organizations to rural and underserved communities in New York and across the country. During COVID-19, my project has been particularly critical since everything has transitioned into remote services. So far, I have created new, user-informed materials, supported community education pilot projects, and helped expand efforts to offer remote legal information and service delivery. A few examples of this work include:

  • creating a how-to-guide for pro bonos and clients who are meeting on Zoom, Google Meets, etc., especially helpful to rural and hard-to-reach communities;
  • organizing and recording the Creative Outreach Webinar, attended by 126 legal service providers and nonprofit staff;
  • conducted a second national survey to follow up with the first edition of the Remote Legal Support Guide;
  • helping with newsletters and social media to engage pro bonos, nonprofits, and members of the community to support PBN’s work to promote access to justice;
  • researching and creating a COVID-19 Resource List and more.

What has the Vista Program taught you?

Dennis: Throughout my last three years, the Vista program has taught me so much about life and myself. It has allowed me to become more motivated in committing to a career in public service, as well the internal confidence to take on any obstacle that life throws at me. It taught me that  innovative solutions require creative thinking, teamwork, and careful planning and strategy. In addition, it has allowed me to understand the depths and scope of poverty, and the impact that poverty has on our communities and populations. Progress requires individuals to   have humility, compassion, and courage to stand up  and be proactive in providing solutions to the problems which face our society. Being a Vista, has allowed me to see what is required for progress, and how allying your passions in life to the work you do, allows you to become an agent of change. Without the Vista program, I would have never become who I am today, and I will always be grateful for LawHelp NY and Vista for providing me with the space and work I needed to become an agent of change. 

Jillian: Being able to assist with these projects and be a part of such an amazing organization has been a great learning experience. My time here has prepared me for law school, affirmed my dedication to social justice work, and allowed me to connect with others in the public interest world. If you are passionate about making a difference, please apply to the VISTA program – it is an amazing opportunity that you will find incredibly rewarding!

Is there any other information or advice you would offer or give to someone applying to the program?

Dennis: I would tell them to find a position in Vista that speaks to who they are and their passion in public service. Visa positions cover a wide range of fields and interest areas, there is a position for individuals from all walks of life. I would advise them to really look into the wealth of Vista positions and seek out the opportunities they are passionate about, and commit to doing the work required to eradicate poverty. I would also tell them to be open to different types of work and assignments. The Vista program is truly unique, in the sense that it allows individuals to gain a wide range of knowledge and skills, if volunteers commit to the experience. It also allows The Vista experience is what a volunteer chooses to make it, volunteers have many different areas within their assignments that they can explore their own passion and skills. 


For the opportunity to carry on this project, you can apply here:  https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?fromSearch=true&id=101889

Throughout the past two years, through tumult and crisis, tragedy and inspiration, Pro Bono Net has been focused and unified by the certainty that our mission has never been more important: to use innovative technology solutions and collaboration to fulfill America’s promise of equal justice for all.

Pro Bono Net has a 20-year record of hard work and success providing online resources to help the legal community respond with speed and efficacy to unexpected and pressing events. The past two years have tested our resilience, and we have met the challenge.

Moving through 2021 determined to support the civil legal sector and contribute to social justice by every means possible, we invite you now to take a few minutes to read through our latest Annual Report and revisit some highlights of hard work and positive change from a fraught time we now hope to leave in the past.


You can view our latest Annual Report, here. You can also view this annual report as well as our past annual reports on our website: https://www.probono.net/get-involved/media/

Remote is here to stay!

This was a phrase that rang through the most recent LSC ITC Conference in early January. For programs exploring ways to refine or grow your remote services to reach more communities in need, below are a few resources that may be helpful and models to consider. 

Pro Bono Net’s Remote Legal Support Guide: A Best Practices Manual for Nonprofit and Pro Bono Innovation, was created in collaboration with 10 organizations with longstanding remote legal services programs. The Guide contains case studies that outline in concrete terms the service models, workflow, tools used, and checklists for managing the programs, and challenges overcome in implementation. 

Remote Legal Connect is a platform that allows legal aid providers, pro bono initiatives, courts and community partners to rapidly build and manage remote legal support programs.  By enabling organizations to enroll, manage and link volunteers with remotely located clients for advice, counsel and document preparation, the platform bridges barriers that prevent people from getting help and can dramatically expand the help available.

Below are examples of how Remote Legal Connect is being used in urban and rural regions alike, and how it is enabling legal nonprofits to sustain and expand support for their clients amidst COVID-19 office closures. 

New York

 Ohio

  • Bridging the Divide (https://www.bridgingthedivideohio.org) helps pro se custody litigants, specifically grandparents and relative caregivers, with family issues related to the opioid crisis 

Georgia

Nebraska

Online forms, such as those powered by, LawHelp Interactive, have played a key role in maintaining — and in some cases expanding – access to justice in many states amidst widespread court and legal aid office closures. LHI has also been the building block of advocate-assisted, trauma-informed services in several regions. Many of these models can be expanded or adapted for pro bono support. Online forms can also be integrated with Remote Legal Connect to facilitate unbundled services, for example one-on-one consultations or virtual clinics. 

Interested in learning more about these models, or have another idea you’d like a sounding board on? Don’t hesitate to contact Claudia Johnson (cjohnson@probono.net) for more information about LawHelp Interactive, or Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz (jortiz@probono.net) to learn more about Remote Legal Connect.



This summary is written by Pro Bono Net’s Community Support Associate, Casey Mears. 

Panelists: Ilenia Sanchez-Bryson, Chief Information Officer, Legal Services of Greater Miami; Amanda Warner, Director of Pro Bono Programs, Center for Elder Law & Justice; Melissa Woods, Senior Financial Safety Tool Project Coordinator, Center for Elder Law & Justice; Tim Baran, Technology Innovation Manager, Pro Bono Net; Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Pro Bono Net

This post is a summary of a session held last fall as part of the 6th Annual New York State Civil Legal Aid Technology Conference, convened by the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice in partnership with NYSTech and Cornell Tech. To access the recording, you may visit https://ww2.nycourts.gov/accesstojusticecommission/tc/2020conf.shtml.

Apps for Virtual Legal Services

The following apps are helpful for administering virtual legal services in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. These are tools that are useful for client engagement, providing information to clients, and transitioning your brick and mortar practice to one that is safe for providers and clients while the pandemic persists.

1. Gruveo

Gruveo is a voice, video and screen sharing service. What makes it ideal for virtual legal services is the ability to set up a permanent link to share with clients. This is helpful to use as a hotline and makes it easy for clients to know where to go when they need to meet. There are no plugins, app instillations, downloads, or logins required. There is also the option to set up a group meeting at a specific time for up to 12 people. The National Network to End Domestic Violence cites Gruveo as a privacy centric solution. Gruveo offers a 20% discount for nonprofit organizations.

2. Telephone

One cost effective solution to remote work is a normal telephone. They are accessible and affordable for both organizations and clients. There are limitations, however, such as the inability to share documents, and any cell plan limitations clients may have.

3. Cam Scanner

Cam Scanner is a mobile app where users can scan documents using their phone camera, and share with others. The app also allows users to add their signature to documents,eliminating the need for a printer or scanner. Within this app, users can also compose an email with the documents attached.

4. Internet speed test

Testing your internet speed is a useful way to troubleshoot any internet issues you may be having with clients, or to check their network connection in advance of a video call or virtual meeting.

5. Agency Websites

Nonprofit and legal services agency websites can be a very helpful tool for clients. On your agency’s website, you can provide self help tools, such as forms, how to’s, and explainer videos. You can also share information and resources like webinars, FAQ’s, and glossaries with helpful legal terms.

6. PostalMethods

PostalMethods is a secure, HIPAA compliant mailing service that sends letters from any uploaded or emailed document. They will print, collate, and stamp your letter with a quick turnaround. This is an efficient and safe way to mail documents to clients.

7. Loom

Loom records your screen, voice and video simultaneously. This tool is useful to explain technologies, as well as for providing instructions for completing online forms and documents. The videos created with loom can be password protected, and embedded onto websites.

8. Audio-Video Technology as a Tool for Remote Document Execution (*until such time as Executive Orders expire!)

There are a few executive orders put into place that allow for remote document execution during the pandemic. Executive Order 202.7 authorizes any notarial act that is required under New York state law to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that certain conditions are met. Executive Order 202.14 allows audio-video witnessing for execution of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Proxies. Best practices for these remote services include, having the client show their ID on a video call and taking a screenshot, as well as having the client walk you through each place they are signing the document and holding the document up to the video call as well.

9. Waitwhile

Waitwhile is a virtual waiting list for virtual as well as in person events, such as socially distanced clinics. When an event reaches capacity, clients can join a virtual line. It can also help to manage incoming phone calls and place clients on a waitlist to receive a text update instead of waiting on hold. Clients can get on a waitlist, and get SMS text updates without downloading an app. This app is free, but has additional paid plans.

10. VOIP Phone Systems

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone systems, such as RingCentral8×8nextiva, and  ooma are helpful for virtual legal services and remote work, because they allow you to text and call using your personal phone, while using a work number and keeping your information private. Some services allow you to use fax as email, and these systems make it easy to access your work phone from anywhere.

11. Texting

Texting is another simple but effective way of communicating with clients. It can be helpful to answer quick questions, or if confidentiality and safety issues might make it difficult to have a private phone call. There are also anecdotal reports that texting produces increased engagement.

12. Online Intake/ triage system

Online intake and triage systems provide relief to legal aid hotlines, and a safe way to request assistance during Covid-19. Online triage sorts users by issue, eligibility, and urgency, and users can be referred to self help or a legal service provider. Online triage and intake can be a seamless process.

13. Remote legal help models

This guide is a collaborative text highlighting nine successful remote legal support programs in several states, including New York. You will find clinic models in areas of family, immigration, expungement of criminal records, and medical-legal partnerships. These remote legal services programs provide simplicity and flexibility, and the guide provides tools, logistics, checklists, and best practices for successful programs.

14. Hello DoorHello Lisa

These services serve as a sort of digital receptionist in your physical office space. They offer a video chat feature (which works with Teams and Skype) that provides an opportunity for safe face-to-face interaction with clients when the come into the space. A legal services organization in Miami is using this product to greet people when the come into the office. It is a way to say hello, and offer direction to anyone who enters, while maintaining social distancing.

15. Ring Central

Ring central is a cloud based video and phone conferencing service that provides customers with the ability to host video conferences, phone calls, and text messaging as well as fax, and document/email service integration. The American Bar Association uses this service to host their disaster legal hotline. All public sector and nonprofit organizations who are new customers and impacted by COVID-19 get free access to RingCentral Office. This includes 200 participants per video meeting.

16. Senior financial safety tool

This web based screening tool is used by financial institutions and community organizations to detect financial exploitation of senior citizens and provides them with a legal referral. There is also a self assessment tool, and the program generates know your rights materials and agency resources. This too is especially helpful as banks are often the first line of defense for older people who are experiencing financial fraud.

17. Legal risk detector

The Legal Risk Detector tool allows advocates to walk through a virtual interview with clients in order to determine their risk factors for issues such as financial exploitation, medical care, consumer debt, housing, elder abuse, crime victims, etc. At the end of the interview, a risk is automatically assessed and sent directly to a legal service provider for follow up.

Apps for Working Remotely

The following apps are those that are useful in transitioning to a remote workforce. These resources are helpful for those working from home during COVID-19, but can also be applied to make your practice more efficient and technology forward in the future.

18. Power Automate (Office 365)

Power automate is a program included in Office 365. This service simplifies processes that could be tedious and time consuming, such as registrations for events (once a person registers, Power Automate will organize their information and send them an automated email with all the information they need). The program can also be used internally for check requests and approvals, training logs, and other administrative forms. The program requires very minimal coding skills, and has many existing templates that can be modified to fit your needs.

19. Basecamp

Basecamp is a collaborative project management tool. There are several tools that you can add to your project space, but the most important ones are the message board and docs & files. This tool is helpful for assigning tasks, keeping in touch with project collaborators and stakeholders, and sends automatic emails to all those involved.

20. Microsoft teams

Microsoft teams is a powerful collaboration tool, especially for a distributed workforce. The chat feature is perfect for internal communications and you can share documents for team projects. One instance of a use for Teams during COVID-19, is you can set up a schedule and manage who is going into the office at various times to limit staff capacity and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

21. Google Workspace

The Google suite has many tools that most people are familiar with, but an underused tool is Google Sites. Sites allows you to easily create a microsite that captures all of the information that you want to share with a team. This could be a portal for a project, or even a mini site with  the details for an event. This tool uses the same sharing and permission structure as all other google tools.

22. Outlook

Outlook is commonly known as an email server, but there are also some additional features that are helpful for remote work. My Analytics sends you an email update based on your focus and wellbeing time. You are able to set a block of 2 hours where you are focused on tasks, and it will provide you analysis of how well you did. The wellbeing feature will alert you if you are spending more time than you planned at your computer, which is helpful for maintaining work life balance while working from home. The To-Do app feature integrates and helps you plan out your day, and the Find Time feature can help you find available times for meetings with people within your organization.

23. Krisp

Krisp is a noise cancelling app for remote work. It allows you to “speak without noise” or “listen without noise,” so if you or a coworker has pets, children, or a neighbor mowing the lawn, it will allow you eliminate that background noise and only hear the speakers on the call. This app supports all communication apps, and offers 120 minutes of free meeting time.

24. Slack

Slack is a communication tool that replicates the social environment of in person work. You can set up a slack channel for “water cooler” or about specific topics or projects within your team. It also allows you to change your status, so if you have to step away from your desk, or are in a meeting you can easily let your coworkers know. There is also a feature that allows you to move quickly from a messaging conversation to a voice, video, or screen share call.

25. 1 Password

1 Password is a useful tool for managing any work or personal passwords you may have. Online security is more important than ever as we move to a more and more online world. This tool operates with a browser extension, so you can click on it when trying to log into any site and you only have to remember one password. You can also create vaults within your team so team members can share passwords to shared tools.