Legal Assistance of Dakota County, Ltd.
Legal Assistance of Dakota County, Ltd. (LADC) provides free legal services to low-income residents of Dakota and Goodhue Counties, primarily in the area of family law. We focus on family law because families are the building blocks of our community and family law is the area of greatest client demand. Our services help stabilize low-income families, long-term, by resolving custody disputes, providing protection from abuse, equitably distributing property, and establishing child support orders that provide economic stability and often reduce or prevent reliance on public benefits. LADC is the only legal aid organization with a physical presence in Dakota County and we are an integral part of the local legal and social services community. Because there is not a right to an attorney in civil cases, our services are often the only option for low-income people to get legal advice or representation for their critical legal needs.
What new functionality we are looking for
Legal Assistance of Dakota County, Ltd. (LADC) would like a new website that is more accessible to the public and is easier for our staff to update and edit.
Our current website was created approximately five years ago and is difficult to update or modify. We have been unable to even add the new logo we got 2 years ago, and it is difficult to add the dates and locations of our legal clinics, which make up nearly 50% of our services.
We would like our website to do the following:
1. Link to the statewide legal services intake portal
2. Have an updated and interactive schedule of our legal clinics, as well as those held by our partner agencies.
3. Publicize our fundraising events and efforts, as well as encourage people to follow our Facebook page
4. Make applying to volunteer easy and make it easier for us to recognize those who have volunteered with us over the last year.
5. Operate efficiently on a mobile electronic device.
How the new functionality will help
A new website would enable Legal Services of Dakota County, Ltd. (LADC) to reach more people and would directly connect more people with appropriate legal services. It will make our staff more efficient and will help potential clients get the information they need more quickly.
Often, people call LADC because they cannot get current information about our services, especially our free legal clinics, off of our website. We hold up to 12 family law clinics in 6 locations and 5 consumer/civil law clinics in 2 locations throughout our service area each month. Each clinic has slightly different rules and sign up procedures. It would be easiest for applicants if they could see that information before contacting our office for directions. In addition, by connecting directly to the state-wide intake portal, Justice4MN (https://www.justice4mn.org/a2j/), rather than using our individual online system, we can ensure that all applicants get directed to the appropriate legal services program based on their location and their legal issue, and that they have an initial income-eligibility screening before they reach our intake staff.
How our organization will use the technology
Our website is the first way many people access our program, so it is critical that the site is clear, accessible, and comprehensive. We currently receive up to 20 telephone calls a day from people who cannot figure out how to sign up for a legal clinic or apply for services on our website. A new website would allow our staff to direct people to the next clinic they qualify for, as well as tell them they can get additional information about future clinics on our website. We anticipate many people will directly call our program partners to sign up for clinics, based on the information that will be available on our new website.
The direct connection to the state-wide intake portal will significantly impact our intake process, making it easier for us to focus our limited resources on eligible clients in our service area. It will also allow potential clients to be immediately referred to other programs if their legal problem falls outside of our acceptance guidelines.
Who will use the technology
LADC has a small staff (3 FTE), so everyone will benefit from the new website, from the person who first answers an incoming call, to our intake worker and our Volunteer Program Coordinator.
Basically, a new website would make all of our jobs easier, because we would no longer have to say things like, "I'm sorry that information is not available on our website" or "Yes, I know our website isn't very good."
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