App helps connect prospective clients with access to justice | News
The first interactive pro bono mobile app is now available to Arkansas pro bono attorneys free of charge through iTunes. With the release of iProBono, the tagline "Pro Bono Wherever You Go" has never been truer. The app will help connect Arkansans in need of representation to greater access to the justice system.
Through their iPhones, licensed Arkansas attorneys can now view pro bono cases representing low-income Arkansans, sort through those cases based on legal topic and county, and request cases with a push of a button.
The app's release comes on the heels of steep federal funding cuts for legal services programs. Compounding the loss was an unforeseen 18 percent cut to state funds that legal aid receives through filing fee increases passed in 2005 and 2009, which translates to a combined loss of more than $750,000 for Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. Combined with the economic downturn, more Arkansans are in need of legal assistance.
To help combat the loss of funding and resources that are now further strained, licensed Arkansas attorney and professional software developer Stewart Whaley, who is a 2008 Bowen grad, and his team volunteered time, expertise, and innovation to create iProBono. In the spirit of legal services programs and efforts to close the justice gap, iProBono was developed pro bono.
"I couldn't fit the typical pro bono client scenario into my normal business day," Whaley said, "but I knew I wanted to do something to help low-income Arkansans achieve better access to justice."
Whaley is the co-founder of LogiCurrent, LLC. He is an advocate of technology’s ability to enhance access to, and delivery of, legal services. Arkansas Legal Services Partnership and Access to Justice provided additional support to the iProBono project.
Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services are nonprofit organizations that provide free legal services to low-income Arkansans with civil legal problems, including orders of protection for domestic abuse victims, uncontested guardianships of minors, consumer issues and public housing. With 17 offices staffed by more than 50 attorneys throughout the state, plus a volunteer pool of about 1,500 attorneys, legal aid services benefited more than 30,000 low-income people and the elderly with their critical legal needs in 2010. However, more than 555,000 were eligible for legal aid in 2010, and thousands of those Arkansans in need were turned away due to lack of resources.