The Minnesota Supreme Court directed LSAC to work on coordinated the intake and referral infrastructure planning across grantee organizations to make it easier for low-income Minnesotans to access available legal services statewide. In response, LSAC contracted with a national legal aid expert to review the current intake systems and report back to the committee with recommendations. Local legal aid experts then took those recommendations and created a strategic vision and implementation plan, which was approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court in January 2019.
Minnesota civil legal aid providers are national leaders in collaborating to create a more coordinated and client-friendly system. In the coming years, we will have centralized phone and online intake, ensuring that there is no wrong door for low-income Minnesotans seeking legal assistance. There will be coordinated marketing and outreach so that our community partners only have to know one referral point to access an array of staff and pro bono services. This approach will maximize our ability to have data about client needs and to increase resources to invest in delivering on the promise of equal justice for all.
LOON: Legal Services State Support has launched the Legal Organizations Online Network (LOON), the backbone of the coordinated infrastructure system. LOON is a database of real-time information entered by 17 participating legal aid organizations. This tool will be the basis of improved targeting of phone referrals. Specifically, it will help intake staff make better referrals of clients they can’t serve to a provider who can. It is also the database supporting LawHelpMN referrals information.
LawHelpMN Redesign: The new LawHelpMN website has also been launched, including the LawHelpMN Guide. This guided interview is designed for people with legal problems and trusted intermediaries who often help families in crisis. By answering a few questions, relevant legal information is presented to the user before asking if they would like to go further and see what additional services may be available. The website also includes a provider and clinic directory designed for users more familiar with the legal system, including pro bono attorneys making referrals at clinics, to quickly filter and find the best available resources for clients. The Supreme Court has created the Triage Portal Advisory Committee (TPAC) to assist with coordination for the LawHelpMN site across civil legal aid, courts, and bar association resources. An upcoming project will integrate the LawHelpMN Guide with online intake for civil legal aid programs and the bar association unbundled roster.
LegalServer Case Management System: LSAC has set aside resources to fund a transition to the LegalServer case management system for many of the civil legal aid programs statewide. Being on the same case management system is critical to more efficient intake and referral processes across programs, as well as to share training and other infrastructure resources. The LegalServer rollout will begin in 2019.
1-800 Number Centralized Phone System: The most complex portion of the strategic plan is the creation of one intake phone number for civil legal aid statewide. Implementation details are being worked through, but the concept approved by the Supreme Court includes a well-publicized 1-800 number with calls sorted to coordinated intake hubs. These hubs will be regionalized for core poverty law services. Callers will be screened for eligibility and transferred to a civil legal aid provider for service based on geography and case priorities. Since this work is contingent on the success of the LegalServer rollout and on phone technology for transferring calls, the timeline below shows a rough estimate of launching the centralized phone intake system by 2023.
Strategic Vision for Access to Civil Legal Aid in Minnesota: The Next Generation (pdf)