December and January were busy months for our program and tech staff, as we prepared to launch a redesigned National LawHelp Portal and a Spanish language version of it.

The national gateway not only serves as a portal to all 50 statewide websites, but now highlights national resources in the site’s widgets. The front page calls out LawHelp Interactive and Immigration LawHelp, while the Resources page has contact information for Stateside Legal (a site serving military members, veterans and their families) and, an FTC page with plain language information.

Users can also access general legal information in the form of 10 plain language guides on topics including:

  • Legal Aid and other Low-Cost Legal Help
  • Understanding Federal, State and Local Laws
  • The Differences between Criminal and Civil Court
  • Preparing for Court
  • Court Fees and Getting Court Fees Paid
  • Overview of Legal Services State Websites
  • Getting Legal Assistance in your Language
  • Your Right to Assistance in your language
  • Working with an Interpreter in a Legal Setting
  • Finding Immigration Help

These resources are currently available in English and Spanish. Later this month, the guides will also be posted in Simplified Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Statewide website partners are welcome to post these guides- either unchanged or customized for their sites- on their own statewide websites. More information will be coming on how to import the text to your website.

The mirror site, LawHelp Español, was soft launched in December and has much the same content as the English site including the plain language guides and widgets with links to Immigration LawHelp and CitizenshipWorks. This week we launched a LiveHelp feature on the LawHelp Español where volunteers from across the country help provide support to users in navigating the site and accessing Spanish resources on statewide websites. This service is currently available from 12-3pm EST Monday through Thursday. Combined, LawHelp Español and LiveHelp will help improve access to Spanish language resources and services available through the statewide website network.

LawHelp Español and the national LiveHelp initiative were developed through a partnership between the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Pro Bono Net and LawHelp New York, with funding from the Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiative Grant program. Take a look and let us know what you think!