Microsoft has committed funding, technical support, and project management services for the pilot portals in Alaska and Hawaii. Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation, will convene local partners and provide service design expertise to execute the pilots. The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) managed the state selection process for the pilot portals, consulting with the National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Self-Represented Litigation Network, and other national stakeholders. As the initiative moves forward, LSC will work to attract other institutional funders and identify local resources to help ensure that the pilots are a success.
Developing access to justice portals in every state was one of the recommendations of LSC’s 2013 “Report of the Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice.” The portals, along with other developments called for in the report, are designed to help the legal aid community provide a form of effective assistance to everyone with a significant civil legal problem. Last year, the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators adopted a resolution supporting “the aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs.”