Pro Bono News

Focus on Client Outcomes, Says New Report on Legal Aid Data

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Focus on Client Outcomes, Says New Report on Legal Aid Data

"A new report released Wednesday calls for civil legal aid to rethink how it uses data and tracks impact.

“We realized there had never been a comprehensive analysis of the issues involved in tracking clients’ outcomes, but rather that such information was available only piecemeal,” says David Udell, executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham University School of Law and co-author of the report, “Tracking Outcomes: A Guide for Civil Legal Aid Providers & Funders”.

Relying on interviews with experts in the field, the new report lays out how legal aid organizations can create and leverage existing and new datasets to better understand the needs of clients. The report also suggested ways to improve their work and better explain legal aid’s value to others, like philanthropic funders.

One recommendation is to use “big goals” and client measures to signify outcomes. The report said that legal aid has, historically, tracked the “level of staffing, nature of services performed, number of instances of service provided, and number of people served.” However, the authors argued, that these numbers are not inspiring to those outside of the legal aid bar, and thus can make it hard to communicate the individual and social value of legal aid representation.

“Big goals” may include “clients’ financial security, stabilizing housing, keeping children in school, or staying in a neighborhood that is safer,” according to the report. This client-centered approach lends itself to better storytelling about legal aid’s impact on clients’ lives, which can help others understand the need and value of legal aid, the authors write..."

Continue reading