Pilot for New Modes of Pro Bono

Pilot, Scaling vision, and Next Steps

We have developed a three-part scaling vision.  In a pre-pilot, one filing agent from a law firm or administrative vendor will conduct one round trip right with one participating legal aid agency on one date.  In the pilot, this engagement will become ongoing.  At scale, several engagements of this nature will be established.  We expect that at engagements with at least five legal aid organizations can be arranged within six months.

The Pilot

We propose a 1-month pilot to test whether legal aid attorneys can reduce the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks by connecting them with law firms who are willing to provide pro bono court filing services.

In May 2015, we conducted a concierge prototype of this pilot. This prototype was carried out based on the court filing processes used at the San Mateo Superior Court where e-filing is not available, and we were told by Greg Tanaka, its Senior Family Law Facilitator, that e-filing services will continue to not be available for at least the next 2 years.

Based on the data we collected from the prototype, we estimate that legal aid attorneys participating in the pilot could reduce the amount of time they spent filing court documents each by more than 1.5 hours per filing.

Expected Deliverables from a Pilot

We expect to be in a position to provide the following deliverables as a result of completing the pilot:

  1. collect and analyze data to test the viability of the project to meet the mission statement;
  2. publish a research paper presenting the results of our pilot, to contribute to industry-wide conversations on innovative models of pro bono services in an era in which traditional legal services are being disrupted;
  3. evidence the value of design based thinking in the creation of legal service innovation;
  4. establish and build relationships with early adopting partners and other stakeholders;
  5. seek external funding to scale the project beyond its pilot phase; and
  6. be in a position to commence scaling the project and expanding to further users.


We are delighted that we have Bay Area legal groups who are interested in participating in our pilot, and we will be writing up more details once all details have been confirmed. If the pilot goes well, then we will consider where this service should live (what sponsoring organization or new initiative/collaborative would be needed to administer and support it) and what next competencies and relationships the basic pilot could be scaled up to cover.

We believe that this project can be a new model for pro bono that can be implemented in many other places. We hope to create a network of actors who are working on this model & others to push pro bono/access to justice vision forward. Our hope is to contribute a refined process of how this project was launched, and how other new models can be developed & launched. Our project aims to provide a research mechanism & publication that gathers quality data about pro bono’s effectiveness — driving forward data-driven legal services.