This week is Pro Bono Celebration Week, a time to recognize those delivering legal information and services on a pro bono basis. In keeping with this theme, we would like to highlight some of ways agencies and organizations are providing technology enabled opportunities for volunteers (both attorneys and non-attorneys alike) outside of the law office.
Many of our state partners utilize remote volunteers to staff their LiveHelp projects. For instance, LawHelpNY provides volunteer opportunities for law students as Live Help chat navigators. These navigators assist users to find the legal information and organizations they are searching for. The remote nature allows students throughout the state to staff the site at times that work well within their class schedule, and provides students with the ability to interact directly with users. For more information, check out the LiveHelp section of our library.
Last year, through a Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant (TIG), in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, Central Minnesota Legal Services and Legal Services State Support (MN) we produced the “Libraries and Access to Justice” webinar series. One of the projects highlighted in that series was the collaboration between CitizenshipWorks and the LA Public Libraries. These libraries established “Citizenship Corners” in each branch, incorporating computer terminals with CitizenshipWorks on them. This allows their patrons to interact with the legal information and web based tools focused on naturalization and provided the infrastructure to partner with citizenship service providers and conduct group processing workshops using CitizenshipWorks in library computer labs. This project leveraged trained attorneys, and trained library staff, to provide information and referral services to patrons. For more information on this and other legal aid/library collaborations, click here.
Your LawHelp platform can also serve as a great place to send volunteers who are just starting out in an area of law. Whether they are paralegals, law students, attorneys or librarians, the resources that you create, aggregate and disseminate are perfect for folks who are new to a legal procedure, or who may need quick referral information for their clients or patrons (or users!). Integrating your LawHelp site, either through individual outreach or presentations to volunteer programs,or through more systematic and established methods such as a dedicated mini-portal, can be a great way to engage an untapped user group.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which LawHelp and other platforms are used to engage volunteers in providing information and services. For resources on volunteer management, check out our resources on Staff, Interns and Volunteers.