As the new Pro Bono and Community Engagement Manager at FJTC, my role is to work in collaboration with Florida stakeholders to expand and enhance the pro bono resources on the website. With this goal in mind, I prepared and distributed a comprehensive survey, targeting Legal Aid staff, pro bono attorneys, law students, and leaders in the Florida pro bono community.

The survey addresses a broad range of potential improvements to the site, including updating the legal resources for volunteer attorneys, updating the calendar of events, adding additional training and CLE opportunities, and a feature to match volunteers with experienced mentors. In addition to polling stakeholders on priorities for the site, the survey sought to identify and collect the most effective training resources in such practice areas as family law, dependency/children’s rights, consumer debt, and housing law.  The survey also covered pro bono attorneys’ preferred types of training resources, obstacles to finding or handling on a pro bono case, interest in mobile access to the site, and  tools that would facilitate pro bono representation of vulnerable clients in Florida.

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While the survey has only been open for one week and responses are continuing to come in, the preliminary results are already telling. When asked which enhancements should be undertaken first by FJTC, respondents selected the following three improvements as their top priorities:

(1) Updating legal resources for volunteer attorneys,

(2) Creating local and online trainings for volunteer attorneys, and

(3) Creating a case referral and matching system (allowing an interested attorney to pick up a case online).

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FJTC plans to tackle these enhancements in the next few months, along with other changes emphasized by our stakeholders, such as updating volunteer opportunities with specific cases needing representation, updating the calendar of local events, and adding more CLE offerings to the site. We believe that improving and centralizing resources on the website will promote pro bono culture in Florida and give future pro bono attorneys the training and confidence to successfully represent needy clients.

If you are a pro bono attorney, Legal Aid staff member, law student or leader in the Florida pro bono community, it is not too late to contribute your thoughts through our survey: Thank you in advance for your insight.