Providing Legal Services Remotely, Responding to Crisis, and Expanding Access to Justice

10.00 – 12.00 | 23 September

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, legal service providers were in the process of expanding their ability to carry out work remotely.  The presence of the pandemic has made the necessity of providing legal services remotely critical in addressing not only pre-existing legal demand but also the ever-growing demand of issues raised by the pandemic. 

While legal service providers are now more able to provide legal services in person due to vaccinations and the lifting of restrictions related to Covid-19, providing legal services remotely is still an attractive (and sometimes necessary) option.  For example, it is often more efficient and less time consuming to provide legal services remotely.  Not every issue requires an in-person meeting.  Further, in some areas (including places with active conflict, such as Ukraine, and in rural areas with no lawyers present), remote legal services are the only way to provide access to justice. 

The session will highlight global examples of remote pro bono projects that address previously unmet needs and that offer lessons on what practices we should continue even after in-person and traditional services are possible again.  As presenters share their good work, they will also explore the ethical issues, such as licensing requirements and scope of engagement, that are raised by their remote work and project models.  Finally, through tools such as chat, polls, word clouds, and possibly breakout rooms, we will engage the audience in a discussion about their experience providing legal services remotely – i.e., ways in which they have been able to pivot their work to address the critical legal needs of their communities and to expand their reach, and tools they will continue to employ.  In this way, panelists and participants will learn from each other and will be able to apply these lessons to improve their services during and beyond the current moment.

Importantly, we will have a panelist from Ukraine who can speak directly to the needs and challenges of providing legal services in a country at war. 

The session will also be a platform to introduce and reintroduce participants to the remote legal guide, “Providing legal services remotely: a guide to available technologies and best practices,” prepared and published by DLA Piper/New Perimeter, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Legal Empowerment Network (available here).