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Pro Bono Net Offers Access to Justice Online Training Series for Libraries

A new webinars series will help librarians assist patrons with legal needs.

 
PRLog - Sep. 4, 2012 - NEW YORK -- With rising numbers of Americans facing legal problems unassisted, Pro Bono Net will offer four national training webinars this fall for librarians, with the goal of increasing awareness about free, online resources for people with legal needs.  The trainings will show librarians how to use these resources to better educate and assist patrons with legal needs, and will showcase successful models for legal aid-library collaborations to connect people with legal information.

Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice, is producing the webinars in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, Central Minnesota Legal Services and Legal Services State Support (MN), and with funding from the Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiative Grants program.  Presenters will represent public and law librarians from around the country, legal aid-library partnerships in several states, the Legal Services Corporation and Pro Bono Net.

According to a study by the American Library Association study, 71 percent of all libraries (and 79 percent of rural libraries) report that they are the only source of free access to computers and the Internet in their communities.  As a result, libraries are a critical resource for those seeking services and information online.

“As free access points to information, government institutions, and computing resources, libraries are key partners in the effort to bridge the justice gap,” said Liz Keith, LawHelp Program Manager at Pro Bono Net.  “We are very pleased to be able to present these trainings, which will help librarians be an even more effective resource for individuals seeking assistance with problems that have a legal dimension.”

The four 75-minute webinars are free to public library and public law library staff, as well as stakeholders from the legal aid, court and access to justice communities.   Topics to be covered include:

•   Welcoming Librarians to the Access to Justice Movement (Sept. 13) - an overview of legal information needs among low-income and vulnerable Americans, the nonprofit legal aid, court and community groups that serve them, and why public and public law libraries are essential partners in meeting these information needs.
•   Connecting Library Patrons with Legal Information: Key Resources (Sept. 27) - an overview of online legal information and self-help tools developed by the nonprofit legal aid community, including a national network of statewide legal information portals.
•   Helping Patrons Find Legal Assistance in their Community: Online Referral Tools (Oct. 11) – an overview of online resources for people looking for a lawyer, including where to find referral information for specific populations such as military members and veterans, and individuals seeking assistance with immigration issues.
•   Developing Legal Aid-Library Collaborations: Models and Replication Resources (Nov. 1) – a look at innovative, technology-enabled collaborations between legal aid programs and public and public law libraries in their communities to connect people with legal information.

The webinars will be recorded and made available online for those who cannot attend.  For more information, visit http://www.probono.net/librarywebinars.

About Pro Bono Net
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation.  Pro Bono Net uses innovative web-based platforms—www.probono.net, www.lawhelp.org, and www.lawhelpinteractive.org—to recruit and support volunteer lawyers and provide direct information and tools for self-representation to low-income communities.   Pro Bono Net has also developed Pro Bono Manager, pro bono practice management software that helps AmLaw 200 law firms increase pro bono participation, manage pro bono caseloads more efficiently, and raise internal and external awareness of pro bono efforts.  For more information, please visit www.probono.net.

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