Legal Services Orgs Partner To Streamline Pro Bono Process

Pro bono management platform Paladin and case management company LegalServer will integrate their systems as part of a partnership with Legal Aid Chicago to streamline service to indigent clients, Chicago's largest legal services organization said Monday.

The integration between the two companies — a first between them — will go toward creating more accessibility in pro bono volunteer recruiting and more efficiencies in the legal aid process as a whole. The pilot program is funded by a Legal Services Corp. technology initiative grant.

"Integrating our case management system with Paladin's pro bono placement platform will allow us to increase efficiency when placing pro bono cases," Melissa Picciola, Legal Aid Chicago's director of pro bono and community partnerships, said in a statement Monday. "The more efficient we can be, the more clients we can serve to help increase access to justice."

The partnership will allow users to quickly and easily transfer case data between LegalServer and Paladin. Legal services organizations can send case data from LegalServer's pro bono module to Paladin's system, where volunteers discover and apply for pro bono matters. Legal services organizations can review the volunteers and upon placing a case, can transfer all data back to LegalServer.

The infrastructure created through the partnership will then be used to set up similar integrations for other legal aid organizations, according to the announcement. It added that integration will be available to other legal services organizations early next year, though beta testing is available prior to launch.

According to the joint announcement, 92% of low-income individuals' legal needs are inadequately met in the country, and legal services organizations typically turn away half of those qualified for help simply due to a lack of capacity.

"Everyone deserves equal protection under the law, regardless of income," said Jeff Hogue, LegalServer's director of operations and community relations. "Whenever we lower the barriers to expanded representation, we increase the opportunities for low-income people to gain access to justice."

LegalServer offers a case management platform to nonprofit organizations and government agencies. It has nearly 23,000 users, with clients like Colorado Legal Services and Cornell University Law School. Paladin, which raised $8 million in Series A funding for international expansion in May, creates and manages online portals where attorneys can find pro bono opportunities.

"Legal services organizations are the backbone of our legal aid system," Paladin chief executive Kristen Sonday said in the announcement. "Working with their existing infrastructure will maximize the number of people we can serve, so we appreciate how forward-thinking both Legal Aid Chicago and [LegalServer] have been in supporting this work."

--Editing by Lakshna Mehta.

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