The PaLAWHelp.org Web site, designed for consumer use in a cooperative effort between the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Office, Pennsylvania Legal Services (PLS) and various legal services programs across the state, was activated in December 2003. Outreach on the Web site began with a series of meetings and presentations by PBA and PLS staff in Philadelphia in December. A presentation was made to the Philadelphia public interest law community on Dec. 2, 2003. There was also a presentation made at the December meeting of the Philadelphia Bar Associationís Delivery of Legal Services Committee on Dec. 3, 2003. Reports on the launch of the site also were made to the Project Directors Corporation of Pennsylvania Legal Services and the Pennsylvania Legal Services Board of Directors on Dec. 2 and 3, respectively.
Since those initial efforts, outreach presentations have been made by our PLS partners and others to the management/staff council at North Penn Legal Services, staff at the Allegheny Bar Association and Foundation and the western Pennsylvania public interest law community. A 30-minute cable access television program highlighting the PALawHelp.org site also was filmed. This show aired four times weekly on the cable television system in Erie in February and March and copies have been provided to all legal service programs in Pennsylvania for distribution to local cable access channels and for local program use in outreach efforts. A presentation on the site also was made at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Consortium Client meeting in March.
The Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel (OGC), working from a plan of area pro bono programs developed at a meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) on Dec. 17, 2003, has developed a Virtual Law Clinic to be rolled out in May 2004 utilizing the PALawHelp.org site. Two trainings in April featured PBA, DCBA, PLS and MidPenn staffers and brought the model to nearly 60 OGC attorneys.
Presentations are scheduled to be made at the 2004 Celebrate the Family-Erie Conference in April and the PBA Pro Bono Conference and the PLS Statewide Conference in May. Additional outreach on the site has been undertaken by various legal services programs around the state who have made presentations and distributed literature and posters regarding the Web site to social service agencies in their local service area.
The site also has progressed in development adding additional materials from the Education Law Center; Disability Law Project; AIDS Law Project; SeniorLAW Center of Philadelphia Philadelphia VIP; the Dauphin County Bar Association and the Allegheny Bar Association. Referral links also have been added for these agencies as well as the Juvenile Law Project and Divorce Law Project of the Allegheny Bar Foundation, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and a number of pro bono programs that are associated with county bar associations.
Development of the pro bono/advocate Web site, PA probono.net, also has begun. The technical specifications for the site have been completed and the structure of the site is now being developed pursuant to those specifications by probono.net of New York, who contracted with Neighborhood Legal Services and Pennsylvania Legal Services to build the site and supply technical support for it. It is anticipated that the structure of the site should be available for viewing at the time of the PBA Pro Bono Conference in May.
Several planning meetings have taken place among a committee organized by PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis. Efforts to secure commitments from various law firms around the state to act as practice area moderators for the site have been undertaken by the PBA Pro Bono Office.