In recognition of Pro Bono Net’s 20th Anniversary, we are sharing highlights from our history as part of our “On This Day in PBN History” series. Throughout the year we will be sharing project launches, collaborations and other important milestones that Pro Bono Net has accomplished since its creation in 1999. To kick off the series we are sharing the launch of one of our most popular and important programs – LawHelpNY’s LiveHelp program.
LiveHelp on LawHelpNY.org
“Please keep this platform open and accessible to anyone in NY this has been very helpful.” – LiveHelp User
On this day in 2010 LawHelpNY announced the launch of a real-time, online chat service available in English and Spanish to help guide visitors to needed legal information and referrals. LiveHelp on LawHelpNY has since grown and is now available to visitors to CourtHelp’s Families and Children and Foreclosure pages as well as visitors to the Crime Victim Legal Help website. Monday to Friday 10:00 am – 1:00 pm visitors can be connected with staff at Legal Information for Families Today for family law issues. LiveHelp continues to be available Monday-Friday 9 am – 9 pm, and is also available on mobile devices.
Designed to help unrepresented New Yorkers with civil legal problems, LiveHelp connects those in need with online tools, resources, know-your-rights information and referrals available on LawHelpNY. Every year, millions of New Yorkers face serious civil legal problems – including domestic violence, family disputes, eviction, consumer debt and foreclosure – without legal representation. The Permanent Commission on Access to Justice estimates that approximately 1.8 million New Yorkers continue to navigate the state’s civil legal system without the help of an attorney. LiveHelp provides a place to start for those who need assistance and helps them navigate the resources and referrals available to them online. Each month, LiveHelp helps 900-1000 people find helpful legal information, online forms to prevent or address legal issues, and information about organizations that can help them further.
“This service made it much easier to get information I needed.” – LiveHelp User
The program is staffed primarily by volunteer law students and recent law graduates. These volunteers receive training on common civil legal problems that visitors to LiveHelp face including family law, housing, foreclosure, immigration and assisting crime victims. They also receive a thorough introduction to all of the sites they will be responsible for guiding individuals to resources. Since the service is online, volunteers can staff the program from anywhere, including the comfort of their own home. Students and recent graduates are even able to receive credit toward their 50 hours of pro bono work requirement to take the Bar in the state of New York.
“Excellent service, quick response, helpful information, provided exactly what I needed!” – LiveHelp User
In 2016, Pro Bono Net incorporated LawHelpNY into its core programs, and LiveHelp expanded onto additional sites for the first time. Initially only available on the Foreclosure pages of New York’s CourtHelp website, LiveHelp soon expanded to include all of the sites listed above. We are thrilled to highlight such a strong and influential program as our first “This Day in PBN History” highlight.
For 20 years Pro Bono Net has been a nonprofit leader in innovative programs that increase access to justice. Our comprehensive programs enable legal organizations to maximize their impact, increase pro bono involvement, and empower the public by providing legal assistance and information. Through innovative technology strategies, we create economies of scale, better integrate existing resources and services, and build capacity in the nonprofit legal sector. Each day, our programs help thousands of families stay in their homes, put young immigrants on a path to citizenship, ensure the safety of women and children, and enable volunteer lawyers across the country to make a difference.