Pro Bono News

State Pilots New Website to Connect Attorneys With Victims for Civil Legal Services (NY)

Friday, October 12, 2018

State Pilots New Website to Connect Attorneys With Victims for Civil Legal Services

"New York state is trying to make it easier for attorneys providing civil legal services to connect with crime victims with the pilot of a new, interactive website.

The online feature, called the New York Crime Victims Legal Network, is designed to facilitate the process by suggesting legal contacts for victims based on the service they are seeking.

The project is in a pilot phase now, but is expected to expand to the rest of the state outside New York City by the end of next year. The service is currently available to victims seeking help in Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties.
The Office of Victims Services collaborated on the project with the Empire Justice Center, Pro Bono Net and the Center for Human Services Research at SUNY Albany. Elizabeth Cronin, director of OVS, said the idea came from feedback they have been getting for years.

“We talked with our programs and colleagues nationally and this was an issue that kept coming up again and again,” Cronin said. “What we found is that the victims suffer financial housing, employment, immigration issues, as a direct result of their situation. So, we had to have all these partners at the table to see how we get this information out.”

The website currently offers help connecting victims with eight major categories of civil legal services they may need, like family law or help with housing. Those categories are then divided into more specific issues, from getting custody of a child after a domestic violence incident to sorting through the rights of immigrants after a crime.
There are only two steps that victims take on the website to find which civil legal assistance organization suits their needs best. They choose the county where they live and what they’re looking for. The website then populates the contact information of which civil legal assistance groups would best handle their situation..."

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