A year of digital development

A key priority for LawWorks has been to develop digital tools and platforms to better enable pro bono volunteers to work remotely, and to more effectively match supply and need using technology. As well as developing our webforms, and opening our website content to wider stakeholders by removing login requirements for most of our resources, we are supporting a number of new projects.

This is an exciting challenge for LawWorks, building on our expertise in encouraging and supporting pro bono and project delivery. LawWorks is currently supporting four pro bono platforms and digital projects, each with significant potential to enable access to justice through pro bono.

LawWorks’ key pro bono platforms and digital projects are:

Free Legal Answers

Free Legal Answers is an online platform that connects individuals in need of initial legal advice with pro bono lawyers. The focus is on early/initial legal advice on civil law matters for those on low incomes.  Users can describe a legal problem on the platform or ask a legal question and receive pro bono legal advice. The platform is currently working as a referral model with a network of agencies, and feedback has been positive. So far it has provided advice to over 120 individuals – with numbers planned to significantly grow as more people are referred to the platform and more pro bono lawyers take part. Free Legal Answers is based on a service in the United States supported by the American Bar Association. LawWorks was granted a licence to launch a similar website in England and Wales. The initial project development was kindly overseen and supported by Deloitte Legal. 

To get involved as a referral agency or to volunteer, please contact [email protected].

freelegalanswers.org.uk

Pro Bono Portal UK (Justice Connect)

LawWorks is developing a new pro bono platform to connect lawyers with more in-depth pro bono advice, casework, representation and a range of other legal and non-legal volunteering opportunities. The pro bono matters are first triaged/submitted by advice agencies, law centres and other approved referral agencies. Developed originally by Justice Connect (an Australian access to justice charity), the pilot is part of a project (working with PILnet) to introduce the award-winning platform in different international legal jurisdictions. The platform also has the potential to enhance (and better coordinate) existing LawWorks projects.

Major Incidents Response project

LawWorks has been working with the Law Society of England and Wales and other stakeholders (including representatives of the Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono) to create a process and mechanism for enabling and coordinating a profession-wide response to major incidents, when access to advice may be needed. A steering group has been supporting the development of the project, building on the experience and learning of previous pro bono responses, particularly following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. LawWorks will play a key role in supporting pro bono responses, including working with HighQ (part of Thompson Reuters) to launch, maintain and develop a public facing website and platform, to connect people needing legal support with pro bono lawyers.

The Jeanie Project

The Jeanie Project is a registered charity established to relieve financial hardship “by assisting in the provision of legal services and advice…”. The charity has developed and piloted (with the pro bono support of KIM Technologies) a new software platform (called Jeanie KIM). The free platform enables front-line staff and volunteers (in community groups and other local settings) to go through structured scenarios and questions with vulnerable clients with legal problems. Pro bono lawyers and others can access the ‘triaged’ information remotely and decide whether to take on a case. A pilot (and evaluation) was successful in delivering a ‘proof of concept’ for the platform, working with Toynbee Hall Women’s Clinic, Camden Community Law Centre, and the surgery offices of Sir Keir Starmer QC MP and Lyn Brown MP.

thejeanieproject.org.uk

To support these projects we are pleased to announce that Sanjay Hora has joined the team as Project Officer (Legal Advice and Technology) and that Jennifer Cheshire will be joining us in April as Head of Digital Projects and Platforms.

 

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