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The First Statewide Civil Legal Aid Software System in Minnesota

Across Minnesota, thirteen legal aid agencies with hundreds of attorneys help thousands of people with civil legal matters each year. Working together to create a seamless statewide experience for clients, these organizations require a lot of coordination.

Minnesota map with locations of legal aid agencies using LegalServer highlighted.

To solve this challenge, a statewide LegalServer implementation was deployed in 2021 across the North Star State. With a unified system, attorneys are better equipped to serve in-need clients - and provide accurate data to grant funders.

“LegalServer has been essential to facilitating the level of coordination we need,” says Lezlie Paulus, Director of Business Administration at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. “With all organizations now using LegalServer, we can transfer cases between agencies, more easily connect with external online applications, and use the native LegalServer online intake module to efficiently get clients to the right organization.”

Remote Work Made Easier

Previously, many Minnesota agencies had legacy databases running locally, which would’ve made work nearly impossible during the remote working environment of COVID-19. In contrast, LegalServer’s web-based access allows all staff concurrent access from any location that has a secure internet connection.

At home or in the office, attorneys and administrators have everything they need to serve their clients. That includes automation of previous manual tasks, like completing local and statewide conflict checks during intake.

We have much more faith in catching conflicts than with our previous databases.

Headshot of Kristy Arndt Turner.
Kristy Arndt Turner, Office Administrator
Legal Assistance of Olmsted County

Communication is Key

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) went live with LegalServer in October 2020, and has been heavily utilizing the ability to send and receive SMS text messages to and from clients. While clients might not always answer their phones or check their voicemail, they tend to respond promptly to SMS text messages.

Communicating the impact of their services to grant funders is just as important as interfacing with clients. Custom reports provide valuable insights to ILCM leadership, and LegalServer’s support team has been there every step of the way.

LegalServer reports make it easier to monitor grant outcomes and report to funders. LegalServer support has been responsive to questions and offers on-going office hours and training opportunities.

Headshot of Jennifer Stohl Powell.
Jennifer Stohl Powell, Legal Director
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Flexible Software for Complex Cases

The ability to shape the application to fit agencies’ needs is proving useful as well. “LegalServer provides us the ability to add multiple parties to a case – non-adverse and adverse parties, children, and organizations,” says Kristy Arndt Turner, Office Administrator at Legal Assistance of Olmsted County. “The common adverse party field helps to improve accuracy with organization names, which was a problem we’d had in the past with different landlord and management companies.”

Meanwhile, capturing Case Notes remains a very popular feature. “The case notes feature is a great addition to our intake process,” Turner explains. “Handling the increased influx of cases remotely during the pandemic has been very difficult. Using case notes and tasks helps us to see more clearly where each applicant is in the intake process.”

Looking Ahead

We encourage LegalServer users to think of their software suite as a living, breathing application. As requirements change, or new integration opportunities emerge, the software can evolve alongside the organization.

Minnesota’s legal aid agencies are doing just that, with a keen eye on future automations to benefit all parties involved.

We look forward to further leveraging LegalServer’s extensibility, particularly in terms of connecting third-party applications via APIs, to create a better experience for both clients and staff.

Headshot of Lezlie Paulus.
Lezlie Paulus, Director of Business Administration
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services