Pro Bono Net will be represented at the 2021 Equal Justice Conference (EJC) this week. This virtual conference takes place May 3rd-7th and is hosted by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. 

“The emphasis of this Conference is on strengthening partnerships among the key players in the civil justice system. Through plenary sessions, workshops, networking opportunities and special programming, the Conference provides a wide range of learning and sharing experiences for all attendees.”

Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and collaboration. Our staff is made up of a cross-disciplinary team from legal, technology and community engagement backgrounds who are committed to creating innovative, sustainable solutions for expanding access to justice. The Equal Justice Conference brings together all sectors of the legal community to discuss equal justice issues as they relate to the delivery of legal services to low income and vulnerable communities. 

We are also looking forward to celebrating Pro Bono Net’s Board member Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, who is being recognized with the Innovations in Equal Justice Award on Thursday from noon 12:00 – 12:30pm ET. The awards ceremony will be live streamed via the ABA and NLADA’s Facebook pages. We hope you will join! 

Monday, May 3rd

1:00pm-2:30pm: Minding the Gap: Addressing Inequity & Disparity in Disaster Legal Services

Disaster recovery can be challenging to many underrepresented survivors, who often have more barriers than others to overcome. Presenters will discuss the disparities in impact and services provided in specific disaster areas, practices that programs can implement for successful legal service delivery, and the key elements of equitable rapid response models.

  • Moderator: Cheryl Naja, Alston & Bird
  • Tiela Chalmers, Alameda County Bar Association and Legal Access Alameda
  • Iris Peoples Green, Disability Rights North Carolina
  • Katherine Asaro, North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation and North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
  • Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Pro Bono Net

1:00 – 2:30pm: From Participation to Power: Co-Design and Tech Strategies to Support Legal Empowerment

This session will highlight participatory design and technology strategies from the US and beyond to help communities know and shape laws that impact them. Panelists will discuss projects that draw on equity design principles and strategic uses of technology and data to help connect individual casework with systemic advocacy.

  • David Rodriguez Andino, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
  • Ariadna Godreau Aubert, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico 
  • Matthew Burnett, Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net

Tuesday, May 4th

12:00pm-1:30 pm: Innovations in Remote Delivery Models

This session will focus on innovative programs in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, aimed at remote and rural service delivery. The ripple effects of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted racial minorities, who have been hit the hardest concerning housing, health, family, and employment issues. This session will offer examples of solutions and outreach strategies that advance a just and equitable recovery for rural communities and other communities affected by the crisis. 

The workshop will feature 1), a technology-inspired program that connects low-income Georgians to attorneys for legal advice, 2) the Rural Economic Improvement Project in Alabama, which aims at better serving rural counties by coordinating with non-lawyers and using technology to reach clients, and 3 ) a comprehensive system of pro bono clinics in Mississippi, including the challenges of transitioning these clinics in the time of COVID-19. 

  • Cari H. King, Atlanta Legal Aid 
  • Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Pro Bono Net 
  • Farah Majid, Legal Services Alabama
  • Nicole McLaughlin, Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and The Mississippi Bar’s Access to Justice Initiative

Wednesday, May 5th

12pm-1:30pm: A Hands-On Training for Creating Online Interactive Interviews

Interactive online interviews help with self-screening, connecting to the right legal information, filling out legal or intake forms, and more. Learn how to write an interview script for diverse client situations, and how to build an app for your script. 

  • Alison Corn, Pro Bono Net
  • Sam Harden, Pro Bono Net
  • Pat Malone, Pro Bono Net

5pm – 6:30pm: 50 Tech Tips 2021

This fast-paced, engaging session will provide tips about free and low-cost technology, including mobile apps, remote work tools, web platforms, and solutions for Windows and macOS. Technology leaders will share new tips relevant to the access to justice community at what is always one of the most popular sessions at the EJC.

  • David Bonebrake, Legal Services Corporation
  • Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net
  • LaDierdre D. McKinney, Michigan Legal Help Program
  • Glenn Rawdon, Legal Services Corporation
  • Jane Ribadeneyra, Legal Services Corporation

Friday, May 7th 

3pm-4:30pm: Online Forms Are Cornerstones for Access: In Good Times and In Bad Times

In 2020, the world was shut down due to Covid 19. The problems created by poverty and lack of legal representation did not stop, in fact for many, new problems developed, including DV, hunger, housing insecurity as it tends to happen in economic crisis. In this workshop will provide two examples from two very different states of how well developed and managed online forms projects play a vital role during emergencies and disasters, as well to meet pent up demand by those who can’t afford attorneys and representation. We will look at how forms are placed in a context of reducing barriers for those in need and share approaches that are helping 10,000s of people in need across multiple areas of civil law–including housing, family law, protection from abuse, benefits, etc. Laurie Garber and LaDeidre Mckinney, who manage two of the most successful online projects in the US, will share on partnership, and incrementally growing a collection that automates how they place their forms in the online universe to make it helpful and relevant to all, starting from simple to complex.

  • Laurie Garber, Northwest Justice Project
  • Claudia Johnson, Pro Bono Net  
  • LaDierdre McKinney, Michigan Poverty Law Program