by Emily Good, Legal Projects Manager
State Support is moving forward behind the curtain on the LawHelpMN.org redesign. This is the second post in our series highlighting what to expect and anticipate in the coming months.
One of the motivations for redesigning the site is to improve legal services provider listings and make each organization's information more targeted to the individual legal needs of users. In particular, a new centralized referral portal will enable easier referrals between legal services providers, a key recommendation in the “Analysis of the Civil Legal Aid Intake Infrastructure in Minnesota” report from June 2017. The report recommended an “up-to-date database maintained of the case acceptance standards of each LSAC funded program, available to all programs to minimize referral of applicants to other legal aid organizations that will not serve them.”
Legal services provider listings will be password protected, and organizations will be responsible for updating their own information about case priorities and contact information on the site. When a provider receives a grant to expand services, or target services to a particular population, they can enter the parameters for those types of cases into the referral portal themselves, and subsequently receive the targeted referrals they need. In turn, they will be able to log in and view information about each of the other LSAC-funded programs in order to make accurate referrals to clients they’re unable to serve.
The information entered will also be used in the legal services provider directory that is visible to the public (although some detailed information will only be visible to fellow LSAC grantees). Having a centralized place where organizations update their own intake and contact information will help minimize the time individual offices spend calling around to verify what other offices are doing.
State Support has shadowed intake staff at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and the Volunteer Lawyers Network in order to better understand the work flow and referral processes at these organizations. The referral portal will function as an additional tool to support the busy work of intake staff, and will especially help newer intake staff learn the priorities and work of other organizations.