LSC Innovations in Technology ConferenceThe 2019 Innovations in Technology Conference kicks off on Tuesday in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Conference brings together technologists, legal aid staff, courts, funders and others to explore innovative ways of using technology to promote full access to legal assistance for low-income individuals.

Pro Bono Net will be well-represented again this year, with a cadre of our program and technology staff in attendance. We’re also presenting in workshops covering topics ranging from the Legal Navigator initiative (www.simplifyinglegalhelp.org) to implicit bias in legal technology.

The Legal Services Corporation will be livestreaming select sessions throughout the conference including “Creating Inclusive Justice Ecosystems in Alaska and Hawaii: Developments in the Legal Navigator Initiative” with Pro Bono Net Executive Director, Mark O’Brien, and “Older Adults & Technology: The Changing Landscape of Access to Justice for Seniors” with Claudia Johnson. Claudia will also be providing an introduction to the panel “I Get Diversity but What is Inclusion: The Impact of Implicit Bias in Legal Tech” on Thursday, January 10th.

Prior to the main ITC conference, Pro Bono Net is offering two days of LawHelp Interactive Training on Monday and Tuesday to train advocates on how to develop interactive legal documents and court forms that increasing opportunities for those without an attorney to achieve justice.

In addition, Pro Bono Net and several of our partners are participating in a daylong pre-ITC workshop on January 7 hosted the Open Society Foundations focusing on legal empowerment and technology, along with OSF partners and grantees in South Africa, Ukraine, Moldova, and Mongolia. On January 8, Pro Bono Net is co-hosting a “Global Convening on Legal Empowerment and Technology” that includes a larger number of U.S. invitees and international representatives from the UK, Australia, South Africa, Moldova, Mongolia, and Ukraine. The purpose of the workshop and convening is to explore the current and potential role of technology in advancing legal empowerment strategies, with an emphasis on approaches to building legal capacity and agency within local communities.

Below is a schedule of ITCon panels and sessions with Pro Bono Net participating:

*This session will be livestreamed. To see all livestreaming sessions, view the full livestream schedule.

 

Monday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
LawHelp Interactive Training

 

Tuesday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
LawHelp Interactive Training

 

Wednesday, 10:30am
Resilient and Ready: Transforming Disaster Response through Technology and Network Building

  • Ariadna Godreau Aubert, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
  • Clarissa Ayala, Lone Star Legal Aid
  • Saundra J. Brown, Lone Star Legal Aid
  • Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Pro Bono Net

Thursday, 8:45am
Older Adults & Technology: The Changing Landscape of Access to Justice for Seniors*

  • Sarah R Galvan, Justice in Aging/National Center on Law & Elder Rights
  • Claudia Johnson, Pro Bono Net
  • David Travis, Chautauqua County Family Court
  • Molly M. K. White, Center for Elder Law & Justice

Thursday, 10:30am
Made in NYC: Emerging Access to Justice Technology

  • Tim Baran, Pro Bono Net
  • Felicity Conrad, Paladin
  • Thomas Officer, Community.lawyer
  • Kristin Turner, Upsolve
  • Linda Tvrdy, DaisyDebt.org

Friday, 8:00am
LawHelp/probono.net Network Session: What’s New and What’s Next for 2019

  • Quisquella Addison, Pro Bono Net
  • Alex Clark, Montana Legal Services Association
  • Mike Grunenwald, Pro Bono Net
  • Laurie Rashidi-Yazd, Atlanta Legal Aid Society Inc.

Friday, 9:30am
Creating Inclusive Justice Ecosystems in Alaska and Hawaii: Developments in the Legal Navigator Initiative*

  • Sergio Alcubilla, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
  • Lester Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Mark O’Brien, Pro Bono Net
  • Stacey Marz, Alaska Court System
  • Glenn Rawdon, Legal Services Corporation

Friday, 11:15am
Connecting Clients to Access — Remotely Bringing Attorneys and Clients Together for Document Assembly

  • Craig Harrison, Utah Legal Services
  • Michael Hofrichter, Houston Volunteer Lawyers
  • Claudia Johnson, Pro Bono Net

Friday, 11:15am
Measuring Impact: An Analytics Framework for Civil Legal Nonprofits*

  • Tim Baran, Pro Bono Net
  • Maureen Jouhet, Illinois Legal Aid Online
  • Meaghan McDermott, Maryland Legal Aid

 

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources, and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post-disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

We’re excited to commemorate the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Week, a celebration of pro bono legal assistance involving events planned and attended by public interest legal advocates and the organizations they work with. This year’s celebration is focused on disaster resiliency. Recent disasters such as Hurricanes Michael and Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut devastated communities in the southeast and U.S. territories in the Pacific.

This month, Pro Bono Net joined Dentsu Aegis Network, a global marketing communications network, for a 2-day event titled IdeaJam Hackathon, to mark the beginning of a media campaign for disaster survivors and pro bono attorneys.

Continue Reading Pro Bono Net Joins Dentsu Aegis Network for an IdeaJam to Connect Disaster Survivors with Free Legal Help

Celebrate Pro Bono WeekPro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

Volunteer attorneys make a big difference in the lives of disaster survivors. In order to help those volunteers with their work, Pro Bono Net partners with organizations around the US and its territories to develop resources, tools, and networks to better prepare and facilitate volunteering. In addition to the roundtables we discussed yesterday, Pro Bono Net offers access to news and alerts, listservs, trainings, libraries and volunteer opportunities specially designed for disaster legal aid advocates.

Continue Reading DisasterLegalAid.org Advocacy Center | Pro Bono Week

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

This summer Pro Bono Net launched a national roundtable series to discuss topics of cross-cutting interest to disaster legal aid practitioners across regions, in partnership with Lone Star Legal Aid and the Legal Services Corporation.

Continue Reading Ready, Willing & Able: Organizing the Legal Community’s Response to Disasters | A Pro Bono Week Roundtable Discussion

Puerto Rico and other areas affected by last year’s hurricanes have been in the news prominently in recent months, but what happens when the media spotlight fades? After the cameras are gone, the physical damages remain and rebuilding is an arduous process. Pro Bono Net recognizes the importance of providing access to legal assistance in the wake of natural disasters and works with partners across the country to build innovative solutions to the short and long-term legal needs arising from these events, which disproportionately impact low income and vulnerable communities.

These needs range from housing instability, job loss, loss of important personal documents, as well as issues applying for FEMA aid or being denied by FEMA, that severely complicate the recovery process. As the Louisiana justice community’s experience with Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, it can take up to ten years (sometimes longer) to resolve the range of legal issues that many survivors face after a disaster.

Continue Reading Update on Disaster Legal Response Efforts in Puerto Rico

In honor of National Volunteer Week we will be highlighting volunteers and sharing ways lawyers and advocates can get involved. Today we would like to highlight the work of the Pro Bono FEMA Appeals Clinics which were initiated in response to the 2017 hurricane season.

Probono.net/ny is the New York state network site of probono.net and strives to mobilize and support the volunteer legal community.  Probono.net/ny includes the NYC Pro Bono Center (hosted with the Legal Aid Society and the City Bar Justice Center), and a number of different practice area specific sites, including in family law/domestic violence, community development, housing and foreclosure. The information on our site is made possible by the contributions and collaborations we make with our network of legal service providers in the NY community.

The following highlight was originally published HERE.

Pro Bono FEMA Appeals Clinics for the 2017 hurricane season kicked off on December 11 at the New York City Bar Association with three pro bono attorneys and three clients with support from the City Bar Justice Center. The clinics are made possible by the collaborative efforts of the City Bar, the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, and members of the new Task Force on Disaster Relief launched by New York’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. As City Bar President John Kiernan described in his statement on disaster relief,

“Veterans of providing disaster legal services knew from the outset that given the scale of the hurricanes’ effects, the need for assistance from volunteer lawyers would certainly ripen and crystallize once the immediate humanitarian crisis advanced to the next recovery stage.”

Indeed, FEMA reported receiving over 4.5 million benefits applications from storm victims, and the call for pro bono lawyers became clear when FEMA began issuing denials in mid-November.

At the clinic, one of the clients had been evacuated from Puerto Rico. Living in a shelter, the client was denied FEMA assistance because the client had not applied first for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The pro bono team called FEMA on a cell phone and engaged in advocacy, filed an online SBA loan application which was immediately rejected, and called FEMA back to pursue his application for relief. Luckily, FEMA’s phone line is open until 10 p.m.

The second client was a mom with two special needs children who is in the midst of a divorce. She is housed and the kids are in school but missing many items from the hurricane. FEMA granted approximately two thousand dollars to repair her home but she needs to appeal, and will return to the clinic next month.

Attorneys were able to help a third client at the clinic – a Superstorm Sandy victim who is still undergoing home repairs. He noticed the FEMA Appeals sign and walked over from the City Bar’s Monday Night Law clinic. This instance of a Sandy homeowner in need of free legal counsel illustrates how years later, New Yorkers are still dealing with home repairs from Sandy and the Build it Back Program.

Please visit the City Bar Justice Center calendar to learn how to volunteer and make the holidays a little brighter for hurricane victims in New York. Pro bono legal help makes an extraordinary difference for families in crises.


In honor of National Volunteer Week 2018, April 15-21, Pro Bono Net would like to extend our gratitude to the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need.  For those at risk of losing their homes, income and even their children, volunteer lawyers are an indispensable resource. Now more than ever it is important for us to support our most vulnerable communities. This wouldn’t be possible without the immense efforts of volunteer lawyers around the country and the organizations that facilitate volunteering.

Like many of you, Pro Bono Net’s thoughts are with those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As advocates for justice, you no doubt share our concerns about the disproportionate and long-term impact disasters often have on low-income and other vulnerable communities, as well as the direct impact these hurricanes have had on nonprofit legal aid programs such as Lone Star Legal Aid.

Legal aid programs help survivors rebuild their lives and navigate the road to recovery, including obtaining disaster benefits, overcoming displacement, replacing wills and vital documents, making insurance claims, combating contractor fraud and scams, safeguarding civil rights and much more. We know from our work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Super-storm Sandy that this will require long-term commitment, and Pro Bono Net is committed to working with our justice community partners to address the needs that will emerge in the months ahead.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Super-storm Sandy, Pro Bono Net joined with others in the community to create a national website – DisasterLegalAid.org – to provide ongoing support for legal aid, pro bono and criminal defender attorneys across the country on legal issues related to all types of disasters, as well as referral information for the public. It is a joint effort of Pro Bono Net, Lone Star Legal Aid, the American Bar Association, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Texas Legal Services Center.

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and in preparation for Maria, Pro Bono Net has been in touch with a number of programs directly impacted. In coordination with Lone Star Legal Aid, we’ve added sections to DisasterLegalAid.org with legal relief information for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Details about federal benefits and disaster legal help available are still emerging in certain regions and information will continue to be updated as it arrives. We are also working directly with our LawHelp partners in Puerto Rico, AyudaLegalPr.org, to identify and make available Spanish-language disaster legal information for the public.

We are working on several enhancements to our LawHelp Interactive-powered interview that guides individuals through the creation of a FEMA appeal letter. First, Capstone Practice Systems is converting the interview to a mobile-responsive A2J 6.0 version, and a Spanish-language version will follow. We are also working with pro bono attorneys from Weil Gotshal to review the interview and update related FAQs and user guides. While this tool was initially designed for pro se use following Super-storm Sandy, we encourage programs considering standing up appeals-related projects to consider using LHI Connect’s remote document sharing and review capabilities to engage volunteer attorneys in helping individuals prepare their FEMA appeals claims during the short appeal window. Please contact info@probono.net to learn more.

Below are more resources those in the public interest legal community can use to help now, and stay connected as needs evolve:

  • BookmarkDisasterLegalAid.org for emerging developments in regions that have been impacted by Harvey, Irma and Maria. Disaster Legal Aid provides centralized resources nationally to legal aid and pro bono programs on a range of disasters, as well as referral information for the public.
  • Visit  the State Bar of Texas’s Disaster Relief Resources page or the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Volunteer Portal to learn about ways out of state pro bono attorneys can help those impacted in Texas. The Florida Bar Foundation’s Hurricane Information page has information about how Florida attorneys can lend their expertise to relief efforts.
  • Watch a free Practising Law Institute one-hour briefing for attorneys Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Disaster Assistance which took place on September 7th.  PLI’s Amy Taub was joined by Laura Tuggle, Director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and FEMA representatives to discuss federal disaster assistance for disaster survivors. Another 1-hour audio briefing took place on September 18th that will be made available to listen to through PLI’s website in the coming weeks.

If you are in the legal community and able to help in other ways but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact us at info@probono.net and we’ll do our best to connect you with the right resources.