On October 22, over a dozen Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) staff and volunteers joined the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) Civic Center Homelessness Task Force at the recently opened Santa Ana Courtyard to provide legal aid services to the nearly 450 men, women, and children that live there.
A collaboration between the OCBA, LASOC, the Veterans Legal Institute, and the Public Law Center, the group of over 70 volunteers served 99 Civic Center residents with 114 legal issues. Volunteers prepared dissolution petitions, expungement petitions, small claims cases, and completed applications for social security benefits.
Technology played an integral role in assisting clients quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly. “With the help of a power outlet, a few laptops, a wireless printer, and a mobile internet connection we were able to access case data, and then download, prepare, and print legal forms for clients,” says LASOC Staff Attorney, Scott Barnes. “From meeting the client to sending them off with their forms, a number of expungement clients were assisted in less than 30 minutes.”
“The sheer number of clients we assisted that morning using just a few simple technologies is quite impressive,” observes LASOC Directing Attorney, Bill Tanner. “We took back 67 intakes from this event,” adds Barnes. “Sixty seven intakes taken under a tent, in a homeless center, on a Saturday morning using laptops, mobile Internet, and a wireless printer. How cool is that? Given a car with a 120 volt outlet, this mobile online-research-digital-form-prep-print-the-forms clinic could go pretty much anywhere.”
Tanner plans to continue to leverage technology to assist homeless clients at his weekly Civic Center Intake Clinic, which has assisted over 100 clients since its inception in April 2016. “Our goal is to bring services to folks who wouldn’t be able to make it to our office,” explains Tanner. “It was Todd Friedland, the current President of the OCBA, who really opened my eyes to how bad the situation was down here.”
LASOC’s Civic Center Intake Clinic offers support services that are currently missing from homeless assistance programs. “We decided we needed to be down here on a regular basis because one of the comments we heard from people is, ‘well you’re here today but when are you going to come back? Lots of people come down, but they never come back, they make promises and they’re never here for us,’” says Tanner. “So I tell them, ‘No, we’ll be here every Thursday’ and we have.”
LASOC is proud to partner with the OCBA to stand up for the homeless, and is determined to continue to provide free legal aid services to one of our community’s most vulnerable populations. To learn more about how you can support our Civic Center Intake Clinic, email firstname.lastname@example.org.