LSC promotes and supports technological innovation through its Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program.TIG grants leverage technology to help meet the civil legal needs of low-income people.
Congress created the TIG program in 2000 and continues to fund it through the annual budget process. As of 2012, TIG has funded 525 projects through grants totaling more than $40 million. Here are some some examples of what that investment has yielded:
Creating a National Network of Robust Legal Aid Websites - The TIG program has played a critical role in the development of legal services websites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. These websites, nearly all of which were developed with TIG support and templates, provide information such as the locations of LSC-funded programs and their offices, information about pro bono and volunteer opportunities, and a range of legal resources for clients and legal services attorneys. Many are supported by Live Chat functionality, which allows users to interact with legal services staff to find the resources they need. Online videos, many created with TIG support, can be viewed from the websites, providing legal information in the areas most needed by low-income people. Surveys show that users of TIG-supported websites are highly satisfied: 76 percent find them "easy" or "very easy" to use and 88 percent find the information they provide "easy" or "very easy" to understand.
Using Technology to Improve Legal Form and Document Preparation – LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is a TIG supported project of Ohio State Legal Services to improve, through technology, the legal form and document preparation process for low-income people and the attorneys who assist them. LHI uses web-based interviews to present users with a series of questions about a document or form, allowing them to input the required information in a logical and organized manner. These answers are then used to assemble a document or court form. In over 40 states and U.S. territories, legal aid advocates, pro bono lawyers, and people representing themselves have created over 600,000 legal documents in a broad range of legal areas. LHI is available at https://lawhelpinteractive.org and from the statewide websites.
Enhancing the Legal Services Gateway with Online Intake - TIG has funded an increasing number of initiatives to provide online intake solutions for prospective clients. Online intake allows these individuals to apply for assistance at anytime through the web. Online intake systems are also integrated into a programs’ case management system, which saves time and reduces mistakes by allowing intake staff to simply verify user information instead of inputting it manually into the program’s client database.
Helping Military Members, Veterans, and Their Families - StatesideLegal.org, funded through LSC's TIG program since 2009, is a free resource for members of the military, veterans, their families and advocates. StatesideLegal.org helps this community access benefits, find free legal help, and better understand relevant legal issues. Users can access StatesideLegal's extensive library of original content, including interactive forms, videos, and legal analysis.
Assisting Low-Income Individuals in Claiming the Federal Earned Income Credit - I-CAN!® E-File is a tax preparation program that helps low-income people file their taxes and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) at no cost. The program is written at a fifth-grade reading level in English, Spanish and Vietnamese in order to be accessible and easier for taxpayers to understand. It was created in 2002 by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, California, with TIG support and in 2010 helped return more than $178 million in refunds and credits nationwide to nearly 95,000 users. Anyone can file a federal tax return with I-CAN!® E-File and residents of California, Michigan, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania can use it for state income tax returns as well. I-CAN!® E-File is available at www.icanefile.org.
For in-depth information, visit the TIG website.
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