In a move aimed at enhancing access to justice, the Legal Services Corporation announced today that it is partnering with Microsoft Corporation and Pro Bono Net to develop state legal portals to direct individuals with civil legal needs to the most appropriate forms of assistance.

Initially, they will develop one or two statewide pilots intended to demonstrate how this approach can be replicated as widely as possible in an economical way.

State legal portals were a key recommendation of the LSC’s December 2013 report on the use of technology to expand access to justice.

A number of states already have legal portals designed to provide legal information and direct people to appropriate resources, such as Illinois Legal Aid and MassLegalHelp.

According to the announcement, Microsoft has committed at least $1 million in funding, technical support and project management services. Pro Bono Net will help convene local partners and provide service design expertise to execute the pilot.

LSC will manage the state selection process, 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 to identify promising jurisdictions that will be invited to compete for the opportunity to develop the pilot portals.

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.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.