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Online pro bono portal goes statewide

An online service that matches pro bono lawyers with needy clients is now statewide in Virginia, according to legal aid officials.

The JusticeServer Pro Bono Portal offers cases from eight legal aid programs across the state, a news release said. Interested attorneys can register online, view listings of cases and select one or more they would like to handle. After they complete the work, they report the results online.

The web-based interface extends the ability of private-practice lawyers to supplement the work of underfunded and overworked legal aid offices. The concept launched in 2012 in two areas, but now includes pro bono cases by almost all the legal aid programs in the state.

“Our job now is to alert thousands of lawyers across the state to the need for additional pro bono help and the ease with which attorneys can volunteer for cases through the new portal, and to sign them up,” said Norfolk’s Nicole Harrell, co-chair of the Virginia Bar Association’s Pro Bono Council.

Lawyers can access the program at JusticeServer.org. Training sessions are being planned.

Virginia’s legal aid programs close about 28,000 cases each year, helping about 70,000 people, Harrell said. Only about 20% of the need is met. They could do far more with the help of more lawyers, she said.

The JusticeServer portal is the work of private and nonprofit pro bono cooperation. A team at the Capital One bank developed the case management software system with operational support from the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society and the Legal Aid Justice Center. Funding came from the Virginia Law Foundation, Capital One, Dominion, Salesforce and Firms in Service of Richmond.

As the program was implemented by legal aid offices in Richmond and Charlottesville, other partners included Techbridge, a software support nonprofit in Atlanta; the Lynchburg-based Virginia Legal Aid Society and Kemps CaseWorks, a case management system used by many legal aid programs. Additional funding came from the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation and the federal Legal Services Corporation.