This TIG cycle, we’ve been hard at work with our partners in New York State adding some optional features to the LawHelp platform. Just before Thanksgiving, the first set of new custom options went live, giving site administrators the option to add a number of custom fields to the search forms on their LawHelp sites. Here’s what you need to know to understand what new functionality these new options bring and how you can take advantage of them:

Traditional Search in LawHelp

LawHelp sites have two different search features visitors can take advantage of.

I: Keyword Search. On all sites, visitors can use the “search” button on the far right side of the header area to search across all resources and organizations on the site using keywords:


Clicking “Go” without entering a search query takes visitors to an “Advanced Search” view, where they can narrow the results they will see by searching by location and topic/subtopic, in addition to their keyword search:


II: Legal Help Search. On sites where site administrators have asked for a search feature in lieu of a legal directory (this customization option is not related to the new work done this fall), visitors that click the “Find Legal Help” button in the center of the site header.


Visitors who click this button are taken to a search page where they can search for organizations based on location and topic/subtopic information:

Getting Granular

Now, site administrators can request that additional form fields be added to these search forms, allowing visitors to construct even more specific queries. Administrators can request that Pro Bono Net modify their site’s settings to include one or more of the following new fields:

  • Tag Type/Tag
  • Channel/Category (for Legal Help Search)
  • Service Type (for Legal Help Search)
  • Spoken Languages (for Legal Help Search) [i.e., the languages spoken at a particular organization]

Here’s an example of an advanced keyword search with the “Tag Type” field enabled:


And here’s an example of a Legal Help Search with every possible field enabled:

When considering whether to enable these new fields on your site, keep in mind that they will work best if you already have resources and organizations that are marked up with tags and categories that will help your visitors search more easily. (The structure of the “Find a Lawyer” channel in the example above is an excellent illustration of how channel and category information can be used to give visitors useful new search options.)


If you have any questions about these new search options, or if you would like to request that we enable them for your site, write to us at



LawHelp’s latest code push–and its first since I began as Program Coordinator in September—took place last Monday, November 16th. Since our last code push in July, we’ve been hard at work building a variety of new options that will allow LawHelp Administrators to customize the search function and to search returns on their sites. We’re pleased to announce that the first phase of this work is ready to be included on LawHelp sites, allowing administrators to add additional fields to the search function on their sites. (To take advantage of any of these new features, write to In addition to these improvements, this latest code release includes fixes for a number of bugs that surfaced as we worked. We hope that this release will make searches on LH3 more targeted and powerful and make the experience of using LH3 more stable.

Highlights of recent code releases follow. As always, if you have any questions or need help taking advantage of the new features described below, don’t hesitate to email

Improvements and Enhancements

  • Advanced Search:
    • Added options to PBN controls enabling LH3 Admins to request additional search fields:
      • Tag Group/Tag
      • Channel/Category (for Organization Search)
      • Service Type (for Organization Search)
      • Spoken Languages (for Organization Search)
    • Redirected users who click “Go” without entering any text into the search field to the extended search page.
  • Added an option to PBN controls enabling LH3 Admins to request that “Authoring Organization” information not appear in resource search results.
  • Added an option to PBN controls enabling LH3 Admins to request modified behavior of the “Find Legal Help” button in situations where users have already chosen a Topic & Subtopic. When users have already chosen a topic & subtopic, this change would send users who click the “Find Legal Help” button to a list of organizations already filtered by the topic & subtopic they had previously chosen.
  • Added an option to PBN controls enabling LH3 Admins to request enlarged “Share/Print/Email/RSS” links at the top of various pages on their sites.
  • Added regions to the search-by-county feature in the search function.

Issues Resolved

  • Fixed an issue causing topic labels to display in non-English languages after viewing a translated resource.
  • Fixed an issue preventing LH3 from recognizing region information in certain circumstances.
  • Minor change to instructional text in LH3 Administrator Interface.
  • Resolved inconsistencies with the tag-based filtering system for search results by allowing users to filter searches by only one tag per tag group.
  • Fixed an issue allowing unpublished, alternate-language topic labels to display in site navigation.
  • Fixed an issue causing English subtopics & tags to display within alternate-language search results.
  • Fixed an issue preventing results from displaying within subtopic pages.
  • Fixed an issue preventing LH3’s search engine from searching within PDF and Word attachments.
  • Fixed an issue causing search errors when filtering search results by certain tag groups.
  • Prevented duplicate versions of the Home, Share, Email, and Print-Friendly links from displaying when switching between different language mirrors.
  • Fixed an issue causing search errors when repeating a search after switching between one location and another.
  • Modified site behavior to redirect users to the homepage if they switch languages from a language with a published topic to a language with an unpublished topic.
  • Fixed a server error preventing the creation of new site mini-portals.
  • Fixed a server error preventing changes to site labels.
  • Fixed the display of tabbed resources to ensure that module titles always display, even when their name is the same as the resource name.
  • Fixed the behavior of external widgets to include only published organization profiles that are also included in the legal help directory.
  • Fixed issue causing English versions of resource pages set to appear in site footers from appearing in alternate language site footers.
  • Fixed issue causing users to lose their Tag-filters when moving from one category to another in a display of search results.

As many of you know, the last six months have seen several major code releases LH3.  In March we rolled out a major upgrade that provides a more stable codebase for the platform and faster response times on key pages. Based on our monitoring, this upgrade has resulted in an average of 40% faster response time across the platform with fewer site errors.

There were several new features as well as bug fixes also rolled out in this release and in subsequent releases.  These include: Expanded RSS Feeds for all topics, subtopics and content pages on LawHelp sites. During this time we also provided annual reports to all partners, as well as four quarterly usage reports, support on two TIG applications and work on several other TIG grants with partners. There were also several launches, including mobile sites for Minnesota and Virginia, a Spanish mobile site for Louisiana, as well as the Puerto Rico client facing statewide website. Congratulations to all!

Highlights of recent code releases follow. As always, if you have any questions or need help taking advantage of the new features described below, don’t hesitate to email

Improvements and Enhancements:

  • Developed a new Dashboard feature that aggregates the RSS Feeds from across a specific LawHelp site onto one page. You can see an example of this on  This was developed through a TIG-funded partnership with More information about this feature is available in this overview in SWEB and demo from the May 2015 LawHelp Coordinator call. To enable this feature on your site, contact
  • Implementation of a new tabbed resource layout that allows admins to show multiple resource modules in a tabbed fashion, rather than one vertical resource, if desired. This, and the related enhancement below, were developed through a TIG-funded project with
  • Created a new FAQ module treatment that allows the FAQ to appear as expandable widgets. See for an example.
  • Added a new filter allowing administrators to sort organizations and resources by status (daft/published/archived) in their respective managers
  • Added a new Topic filter to the Resource/Organizational manager
  • Added a date created column to the resource manager and to the resource/organizational filters.
  • Implemented Spanish Labels on the “Share This” feature
  • Created an optional drop down menu in the Find Legal Help search page. You can see this in action on the Choose a Location menu here: This setting can easily be enabled by PBN staff on your LawHelp site upon request.
  • Added scroll over text to the “Hide Your Visit” feature that says “CAUTION! This does not erase your history!”
  • Developed new bulk administration tools for a custom Court Directory previously developed under a TIG-funded project.

Issues Resolved:

  • Fixed an issue preventing mobile-specific titles from appearing in the mobile site.
  • Fixed an issue that caused resources created as mobile-only resources to appear in the search results.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented ‘Date Created’ values from displaying correctly in the content
  • Fixed a bug causing users who are switching to the mirror version of a site to be taken to the homepage, rather than a mirror version of the page they were on.
  • Fixed an issue causing organizations to appear twice on content pages set to retrieve both organizations and resources
  • Fixed an issue with the LiveHelp widget that prevented PBN program staff from changing the text in the button
  • Fixed an issue preventing administrators from changing a resources default language
  • Fixed a bug preventing administrators from updating organizational addresses on select sites, such as Puerto Rico.
  • Fixed an issue preventing select counties in Oregon from displaying.
  • Fixed an issue preventing a specific intake field from updating in New York

It’s that time of the year again- time for annual usage reports!  Each year we provide a spreadsheet listing your content and it’s usage for the year.  This can be used in your own annual reports to funders, board members, content evaluation etc.  Our annual usage reports are created through a combination of Google Analytics data and metadata from the LH3 database to provide information such as the channel, topic/subtopic and authoring organization for resources.

Resource Reports

There are multiple ways users access resources specifically, our reports capture this variety. Specially, there are columns for views, clicks and attachments such as PDFs/PPT/DocX/XLS and HTML.  We’ll take each in turn.

What are Views?

Views are the number of people who viewed the landing page of your content (for an example, click here).  You may also call this the resource profile, or the content detail page. When you have an HTML text module, this is the way the user ‘accesses’ the resource.

What are Clicks?

Where you have created a link module in the resource, the number of users accessing (clicking on) the link is known as a ‘click’.  When your resource contains only a link, and no other module, users will be able to access the link on both the resource profile page as well as in the resource list. The number of clicks reflects users accessing this link from both locations on your site. This is why the number of clicks may be higher than the number of views.

What are PDFs? (and PPT/DocX/XLS)

When you create an attachment module in a resource, the report tracks usage by attachment type. Therefore, when you create a PDF attachment, the report reflects the number of people who have downloaded that PDF in this column.  Similarly, if you attached a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet or a PPT, it will show the number of downloads in the corresponding column.  Just like clicks, if your resource only contains an attachment and no other module, the usage report will show users who have accessed the attachment from both the resource profile and the resource list.  This may result in a “download” number that is higher than the number of views, because uses can access the resource without viewing the landing page.

Why is there an HTML Column?

Just as you create a Word or Powerpoint file as an attachment, you can create a HTML file and attach in the attachment module.  Few states actually do this, however.

Organizational Reports

Because of the nature of organizational profiles, there is only one type of usage reported, the number of profile views for that resource.

Multilingual Content

Resources and organizations with profiles in languages other than English are distinguished on your report in the Language Column, and by the URL (which will end with “lang=es” for Spanish or “lang=en” for English).  It doesn’t matter if you have set up mirror sites, or use language portals, the data in the report will appear in the same format.

This article is modified from a similar article we ran in 2013.  If you run into other questions, feel free to email us at

MontanaLawHelp image

This is the first in our series on mobile-centered content creation on LH3. Over the next few months look for articles covering information architecture, writing and multimedia, accessibility as well as evaluation and what it means to understand these in a mobile context. To kick things off, let’s turn to “mobile first” content creation, and how it can impact resources and organizations on LawHelp.

Read the rest of this entry »



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