Legal Aids Unite to Increase Access to Justice for Millions Across Florida

To maximize efficiency and increase our reach, CLSMF leverages technology to serve more people in the community who need access to legal help. We are dedicated to continuously finding new ways to expand our breadth of services in Central Florida and beyond. This year, we are teaming up with Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGMI) to launch the new and improved Florida Online Intake System (FLOI).

In 2017, with funding from Legal Services Corporation (LSC), LSGMI launched an online intake platform that integrates with Legal Server, the system most legal aid programs in the state use to process client intakes. The initial pilot program was extended to Bay Area Legal Services (BALS) and Three Rivers Legal Services (TRLS). More than 17,000 applicants accessed the online intake system in its initial year. However, it was found that more than 7,000 applicants lived in a county not covered by the three legal aid programs.

In December 2018, LSC awarded an additional Technology Innovation Grant to enhance and expand the online intake system through the addition of CLSMF and Legal Services of North Florida (LSNF). This partnership will double the counties in which the online application process will be available and increase the current potential reach by 1.4 million people. With the additional collaborative organizations onboard, all seven LSC-funded programs in Florida will now have online intake capacity, allowing low-income people in every county in the state to apply for help any time they need using any device they have available.

CLSMF will bring the Open Referral tool that was developed to integrate with Legal Server as one of the enhancements to the online intake program. This tool creates a system to easily update and automatically share program information among all Florida organizations using Legal Server. Currently, the tool develops data standards and open source tools that make it easier to share, find and use information about health, human, and social services. The ultimate goal of Open Referral is to expand beyond the legal aid community, to include social service providers and other sources of assistance. Providing a referral particular to the applicant’s circumstances reduces the frustration of trying to navigate a complex and layered legal landscape. Open Referral integration will continue to evolve as all legal aid programs begin to implement the online intake system.

Additional enhancements to the program capacity include document processing, whereby applicants can take photos of their legal documents and upload them during the intake process. The program will also incorporate Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) to scan for key information which will be highlighted for the reviewing attorney. The program will attach these documents to each applicant’s file cutting down the time it takes to review their case, so that the client can receive faster service. The legal field is expected to significantly increase the use of AI technology in the coming years and this partnership with CLSMF, LSGMI, LSNF, BALS, TRLS is committed to leveraging this powerful means to increase access to justice for Floridians.