Pro Bono News
Coronavirus, Remote Legal Services and some nice work by Probono.net
Friday, April 17, 2020
- Law, Technology and Access to Justice
Coronavirus, Remote Legal Service and some nice work by Probono.net
"The world of legal advice and assistance is changing rapidly under the constrictions of Coronavirus. There is little hope that this will change any time soon. Agencies which have relied historically on face to face, community-based provision will have to adapt to delivering more services remotely in ways which protect their staff, users and volunteers from infection. A partnership involving probono.net and the Immigration Advocates Network has provided us with a timely service in publishing a study of remote legal services in US immigration services. The authors could not have predicted the arrival of a global pandemic but C-19 gives this study a much wider relevance than to just one subject in one country: its lessons and suggestions merit take up around the world.
The study is based on a survey of organisations providing immigration advice in the US. The report acknowledges that ‘technology is not a silver bullet’ though its authors are nothing if not enthusiasts. Their basic proposition is, however, surely unarguable: ‘common tools like cell phones, tablets and computers etc can help to stretch limited legal resources’. Emerging from the study is an enthusiasm by organisations to deliver more remote legal support but a lack of confidence and knowledge in how to do so. A list of seven barriers were shared by more than 40 per cent of respondents and, in order, were lack of:
- sufficient staff;
- partners to connect us to community members who need legal support;
- expertise on project management and design; equipment to deliver remote legal support;
- partners to provide legal support;
- volunteer lawyers to provide support; and
- staff willing to try innovative service delivery models.
Some of these are particular to pro bono operations, such as lack of volunteers, but many may be more general. And the commonly expressed view that staff lacked experience of, and confidence in, providing remote legal support may also be widely shared..."