Hawaii Legal Services Portal Refers Court Users to the Most Appropriate Legal Organizations and Resources
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and the Hawaii Consortium of Legal Service Providers recently launched the state’s first comprehensive legal services portal to direct people needing civil legal help to the most appropriate organizations and resources. Operating as an automated online triage tool, the Hawaii Legal Services Portal (“Portal”) provides legal information and referrals in a simple-to-use, accessible, and efficient way.
Funding was provided by the Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiative Grant, a competitive grant to explore new ways to effectively meet the legal needs of low income individuals and families through the use of technology. The Portal has been a year-long project of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, Domestic Violence Action Center, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, The Mediation Center of the Pacific, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, University of Hawaii Elder Law Program of the William S. Richardson School of Law, Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and with support from the Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii State Judiciary. The Portal can be accessed by visiting www.lawhelp.org/hi/portal, the Hawaii State Judiciary website at www.courts.state.hi.us, and the Hawaii State Law Library System at www.hilawlibrary.wordpress.com.
Designed to provide a centralized entry point for people to access legal information and identify relevant referrals, the Portal helps expand statewide access to justice by providing self-help materials and resources for unrepresented litigants. Users provide answers to simple questions about themselves and their legal issue and the Portal will refer users to the most appropriate legal service organization for which they may qualify for services. The Portal provides easy access to brochures, videos, do-it-yourself online court forms, virtual learn-the-law classrooms, and other online legal resources. "I hope that people who use the Portal will find the legal system a little easier to access and navigate, gain more confidence through the process, and reach the right places for help from the beginning of their search," states Kara Doles, Portal Project Coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.
In designing the Portal, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii worked with LawHelp.org and its developer Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the way legal help reaches those in need. The partnership was a natural fit and created a more robust and interactive system for users. Moreover, it allows for other legal aid organizations across the country to easily replicate and modify the Portal for their own community’s needs.
The Hawaii Consortium of Legal Services Providers was created under Rule 21(c)(3) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii. Members of the Consortium are dedicated to providing access to justice for all of Hawaii’s residents through the delivery of direct legal services and by providing advocacy, outreach, and education in the communities they serve.
Established in 1950 with 11 offices statewide, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is a non-profit, public interest law firm dedicated to increasing access to justice for the state’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
For more information about online legal resources, please click on the brochure below.