Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service has a new place to find pro bono cases

The Baltimore-based organization is looking to make it easier for lawyers to connect with people seeking legal help.

MVLS' Pro Bono Portal.

(Courtesy photo)

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service has a new tool to help lawyers find available pro bono cases.
Baltimore-based MVLS provides legal services to low-income Marylanders by providing connections with lawyers willing to volunteer their time. With Pro Bono Portal, MVLS created a place on the web that allows lawyers to see what cases are in need of legal help.
The user interface, which is optimized for mobile, populates with cases that are available in real-time. That allows attorneys to search cases where they could offer expertise, said MVLS Deputy Director Susan Francis. Previously, the website only offered a sampling of cases. The portal also organizes the cases by geography, and has a color-coded system for the types of cases.
It’s the latest tech upgrade from MVLS, which previously created virtual reality training videos.
“We are always looking for ways to increase the speed at which we can match Marylanders in need with the generous support of volunteer attorneys. Our refreshed Pro Bono Portal is a wonderful example of how we are evolving our technology to help more people,” MVLS Executive Director Bonnie Sullivan said in a statement.
Along with providing a resource for the attorneys that are already working with MVLS, Francis hopes the portal can help reach more lawyers. So it also contains features to provide more information about the program.
In developing the tool, Francis said MVLS tested it over a period of months with about 50 volunteer lawyers, including those that were active members, as well as younger attorneys who recently joined. While providing validation that it was a tool they would use, the process also helped gather plenty of feedback to improve the tool.
“It was good on both ends, to figure out what some of the wrinkles were and what was working,” Francis said.

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