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LawHelpNY Provides Domestic Violence Information Via Text
Legal Information Site Offers Access to Domestic Violence Referrals, Information and Self-help via Text Message
LawHelpNY.org is New York State’s online source of free legal aid referrals, know-your-rights information and a variety of self-help tools. LawHelpNY.org is maintained by the New York LawHelp Consortium, a collaboration of 12 legal aid and bar associations, including the City Bar Justice Center and Pro Bono Net, the site developer and a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice for the disadvantaged through technology.
This new SMS campaign, through the use of text messages provided in English and Spanish, will guide immigrant victims of domestic violence to emergency hotlines, shelters, local free legal assistance, and emergency health and medical care. This will allow cell phone users to receive referral information without the need for a data plan, and will allow cell phone users with a data plan to access legal information directly from their phone. This pilot program focuses on three New York counties, The Bronx, Orange and Suffolk counties. Outreach about the plan will focus on bi-lingual programs, health services, Head Start Centers and other community and social services providing immigrant support. The main message of the campaign is “No one has the right to abuse you, even if you are undocumented.”
“With this innovative texting program, we hope domestic violence victims will be safer while asking for help via the privacy of a mobile phone, since the text can be deleted and victims can quickly contact a hotline or free legal service while on the go,” said Leah Margulies, Esq., Project Director of LawHelpNY.
www.LawHelpNY.org was launched in 2001 and now serves more than 350,000 visitors a year. LawHelp.org was redesigned with support from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant program
About the New York LawHelp Consortium
The New York LawHelp Consortium is a collaboration of twelve legal aid organizations and bar associations who oversee the LawHelpNY Project on behalf of the statewide legal aid community. LawHelpNY, in addition to providing referral information to free legal help throughout the state for low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers, makes available thousands of know your rights and self-help resources in more than 30 languages. Its LiveHelp online chat program, provided in English and Spanish, helps a site visitor find exactly the resource and referral they need through one-on-one chat, which is especially important if the visitor is one of the 2.3 million New Yorkers who go to civil court each year without an attorney. LawHelpNY’s recently launched blog, www.RealNY.org, provides up-to-date legal news and community information, such as Sandy recovery news and a calendar of free legal clinics for Sandy victims, consumer debt and foreclosure information and the rights of immigrants under the Affordable Care Act.
The New York LawHelp Consortium members include Pro Bono Net, City Bar Justice Center, The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, Volunteers of Legal Service, the Empire Justice Center, Legal Aid of Northeastern NY, Legal Assistance of Western NY, the NY State Bar’s Pro Bono Office, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, New York Legal Assistance Group, and the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York.
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 andwww.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 developedPro 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 visitwww.probono.net.