Last year, LawHelp.org, developed by Pro Bono Net in 2001 with funding from the Legal Services Corporation, the Open Society Institute, and others, announced the rollout of a redesigned platform, dubbed LH3. LawHelp.org is a national, online network of consumer legal information websites that help low income people find timely and accurate legal aid referrals, information about legal rights, and self-help resources.
The new platform simplifies the search process for users who, on average, view over 8,000 know-your-rights resources per day and receive referral information for free and low-cost legal services across twenty five partner sites and the national portal page. Thanks to financial support from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant, and with significant input from the national LawHelp network and the redesign steering committee, the new LawHelp platform allows for expanded support for multilingual content, tools to spotlight important content such as online legal forms or videos, and improved searchability from external search engines like Google or Bing.
The new LawHelp platform makes it easier for those facing potentially life-altering issues to find legal assistance, and offers our state partners a suite of new tools to help clients understand and solve their legal problems. LH3’s new features include:
- A new interface design that couples LawHelp’s familiar icon-based browsing with enhanced navigation and search options
- Expanded support for multilingual content and language-specific portals to serve a growing number of users looking for help in languages other than English
- New tools for spotlighting key content such as LawHelp Interactive online legal forms or videos
- Improved administration tools to make managing content-rich websites more efficient
- Improved searchability from external search engines such as Google or Bing
Behind the scenes, LawHelp’s new extensible architecture offers new opportunities for content syndication, for example to partner websites or into case management systems. And thanks to a partnership with Montana Legal Services Association, LawHelp is going mobile this year. After a pilot with MontanaLawHelp.org, any state will have the ability to create a mobile-optimized version of their LawHelp website.
This fall, three states also launched new issue-specific "mini-portals" on their LH3 sites. An example of this is the GeorgiaLegalAid.org public benefits portal, which Georgia created to help intake and front-line leagl aid staff respond to an influx of calls related to public benefits issues.
The LawHelp redesign was supported by the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grants program and the LawHelp network’s innovative collaborative investment model. Along with significant input from the national LawHelp network, the process was guided by a steering committee of LawHelp coordinators from the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Legal Services State Support (MN), Montana Legal Services Association and the LawHelp/NY Consortium.