A U.S. justice tech company and a Ukrainian legal aid organization have joined forces to launch a first-of-its-kind European pro bono portal to assist with relief efforts for Ukrainians affected by the war.
The portal is being launched today by the Legal Development Network, a group of Ukrainian community-based organizations that promotes people-centered justice through legal aid, legal education, strategic advocacy, and other empowerment tools, and Paladin, a U.S.-based justice tech company whose mission is to increase access to justice through scaling pro bono programs.
(To learn more about LDN, listen to my recent podcast interview with its executive director Yevgen Poltenko.)
Also supporting the portal is LinGo, a non-profit social enterprise devoted to addressing public interests through legal innovations in Ukraine, which will manage the network to help coordinate connections between clients who need help and attorneys who are well-suited to assist.
Read about Paladin on the LawNext Legal Technology Directory.
Clients in need of legal assistance will be able to connect with the LDN team and relevant resources through the LDN’s online chat box and chatbot, Pravoman. If the client qualifies for pro bono assistance, the LinGo team will match the person with a pro bono lawyer through Paladin to facilitate the work directly.
Paladin says volunteers are needed to assist with refugee/immigration applications; housing; labor rights; access to public services (medicine, education, social protection); business-related issues; and translations. The need is especially urgent for volunteer lawyers who are licensed to practice across Europe, particularly in Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
”According to UNHCR, as of March 24, more than 4 million Ukrainians had fled abroad searching for security. Legal aid is just as necessary for them as humanitarian aid. We are grateful to Paladin for the opportunity to help these people and encourage us to take part in the initiative,” said Poltenko, LDN’s executive director. ”Today, the proactive stance of our partners inspires us as well. We are convinced that the synergy of our actions will be part of the justice victory.”
According to LDN, the most-frequent legal requests through their intake include: recovery of lost documents; conditions for immigrating abroad, especially with children; labor-related rights in martial law; how to move a business to a safer location; destinations for evacuation and migration; and general support for socially vulnerable groups, including social benefits, pensions, utility bills, etc.
In addition, in the past few weeks, LDN has helped relocate their staff and families from hotspots to other areas in Ukraine; prepared and disseminated legal and humanitarian information across the country; built out humanitarian centers to provide clothing, medicine, food, and equipment to those in need; and served nearly 2,500 individuals with legal assistance in person and through remote tools.
“All of us have been devastated watching the war in Ukraine unfold, and we want to help however we can. LDN has done an incredible job mobilizing resources thus far to help with humanitarian and legal efforts, and we’re honored to provide our technology to help match people in need with volunteers as quickly as possible,” said Kristen Sonday, cofounder and CEO at Paladin.
Multiple Pro Bono Portals
Last November, Paladin established its first pro bono portal outside the U.S., establishing a platform in the United Kingdom through a partnership with with six major law firms: Akin Gump, Clifford Chance, McDermott Will & Emery, Vedder Price, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Winston & Strawn.
Previously, Paladin had helped launch seven pro bono portals in the U.S. These include:
- Succession to Service in Colorado, connecting volunteer lawyers to their communities through local legal services organizations to help residents obtain legal help.
- Indiana Legal Help Pro Bono Opportunity Guide, developed with the Indiana Bar Foundation and the Coalition for Court Access.
- Pro Bono Texas, in partnership with The State Bar of Texas.
- Oklahoma’s Pro Bono Opportunity Portal, in partnership with the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation.
- The Unemployment Insurance Relief portal launched by the New York State Bar Association, in which Clio was also a partner.
- Wisconsin’s Pro Bono Opportunity Portal, together with the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Paladin also helped create the Disaster Relief Pro Bono Portal in partnership with the American Bar Association.