Piloting SMS for Legal Aid

Piloting SMS for Legal Aid

Legal aid in the United States is broken. Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the country's primary funder of legal aid organizations, estimates that about half of eligible clients are turned away from the organizations it funds, and about eighty percent of the civil legal needs of low-income Americans remain unmet.

Homes for the holidays

Homes for the holidays

Landesa and FrontlineSMS are delighted to welcome and share the announcement today of a US $1.5m Google Global Impact Award, which will enable them to use mobile technology to transform the way that the government in the Indian state of Odisha helps landless families gain secure rights to their land and homes.

A Newer and Newer Liberia

By Sean McDonald. Reposted from the FrontlineSMS:Legal blog

In an unfortunately familiar near-panic, negotiating with a would-be immovable airline desk agent, I learned something about Liberia in specific, and progress in general.  Solutions are better than rules and the new will never succeed without building on the old.

I was in Monrovia to attend the first ever Mobile Innovations Conference (MICO), which focused on ways to use mobile phones to augment the work of Liberia’s burgeoning civil society. The Conference, which was hosted by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and USAID, brought together media organizations from all over the country, election officials, the nation’s largest mobile service provider, USAID, cabinet ministries, civil society representatives, superintendents’ (governors) offices, and a handful of technology organizations.  Through presentations and brainstorming sessions (and, as with any conference, lunch), we began to talk about both the opportunities and the challenges that face Liberian civil society.

Liberia is a country that is still hamstrung by the ravages of their civil war. Literacy hovers at 30 percent. The poverty is staggering and pervasive. There is little-to-no infrastructure. The better-off have reliable electricity provided by privately owned generators that run on scarce and expensive fuel. The undersea cable that is hoped to bring an affordable Internet to Liberia won’t make landfall until at least next year.  It seems bleak.

Just like that day at the airport........(read more on the FrontlineSMS:Legal blog)

FrontlineSMS:Legal - Running Justice’s House

By Sean McDonald. Re-posted from FrontlineSMS:Legal blog "Every day, dozens, if not hundreds, of people line up in front of each Justice House, seeking help to resolve life’s challenges.  They wait, patiently, for hours, to approach the information desk, where they receive a simple intake form (name, age, gender, address, mobile phone number, cause of complaint, etc.).  This form is then handed back to a lone information desk attendant, who dutifully enters all of these details into an Excel spreadsheet (and not the fancy kind), to form a simple list of visitors.  Each client is independently referred to the service provider, or providers, best suited to their needs.  There, they wait in another line, for the service provider to be available. It is first-come-first-served, because that’s the only way for it to be fair. This process repeats for every client, across every claim, and for every visit.

It is a wonder, with all that waiting, that much of anything gets done... Still, with FrontlineSMS:Legal at each information desk, these Houses could deliver so much more justice. Clients could fill out intake forms and schedule appointments via SMS, saving thousands of hours of wait time a week. Service providers could have a schedule that told them what they were doing when they went to work and show clients the respect of keeping appointments. Read more on the FrontlineSMS:Legal blog