Image [cc] jimbethmag

The Maine State Library is leveraging its Public Library System and its Volunteer Lawyer Projects (VLP) along with video conferencing services (via Jabber/MOVI) to bring services focused at low-income citizens on specific topics. The idea is to have a presentation on a topic, like landlord-tennent rights or end-of-life issues, and then allow people to ask the lawyer general questions at the end of the session. The video conferencing tools allow for the interaction to go statewide, and in real-time. It is one more example of how libraries (whether court or public) are helping achieve access to justice programs. This program, called Lawyers in Libraries, received a grant to produce the workshops/clinics and is defined by the State Library as:

  • The project will allow volunteer lawyers to provide information clinics on specific civil legal subjects that are likely to be of interest and use to Maine people with low incomes (but open to all patrons of public libraries). These clinics will be remote, but in real time, so patrons in different libraries will be able to attend and ask questions directly to the attorney who will be available by video conference.
  • This project will allow Volunteer Lawyers Project to set up actual consultations for people with low incomes to speak privately with a lawyer over the MOVI technology. The client will be at their local library, while the lawyer will be at the Volunteer Lawyers Project offices.
  • The focus will be on bringing these video clinics to rural areas that have less legal resources available, but will be open to participation for all Maine Libraries.

More information can be found on the Lawyers in Libraries outreach from the Bangor Daily News.

Hat-tip to Bob Ambrogi for pointing this out to me. And, hat-tip to the State of Maine for using the public library platform, technology, and the VLP to at least bring a little sanity to the legal process for the public at large.