As library workers it can be tricky to assist patrons with legal questions while carefully staying out of the territory of giving legal advice. Thankfully, there are two excellent Texas-specific legal resources designed and delivered by licensed attorneys that library staff can use to connect their patrons with free and basic legal resources. Two upcoming webinars will focus on each one:
Webinar 1: TexasLawHelp.org
Friday, March 06, 2020 — 10-11am CST
TexasLawHelp.org is an easy to navigate website dedicated to providing free, reliable legal information to low-income Texans. It is part of a broader effort within the national legal aid community to use technology, specifically the Internet, to enhance and expand the delivery of legal aid. In this webinar, you’ll learn what kinds of tools and resources TexasLawHelp.org makes available, such as legal information written in easy-to-understand language, legal forms, and even a LiveChat service where eligible visitors can get free legal advice from attorneys. TexasLawHelp is a project of the Texas Legal Services Center, and is supported by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, Texas Bar Foundation, Travis County Law Library, and Texas Legal Aid Organizations.
Webinar 2: Remote Legal Clinics – The Virtual Self-Help Center
Thursday, March 12 2020 — 10-11am CST
Learn about one of Texas Legal Services Center’s newest legal aid programs. The Virtual Self-Help Center (VSHC) has two primary goals: (1) to empower and assist low-income, self-represented clients in family law cases and (2) to expand legal aid to more effectively reach rural communities. Most physical legal aid offices are located in urban areas, leaving a gap in service coverage. VSHC partners with community hosts in rural counties to set up “virtual” legal clinics that allow clients to video chat with attorneys. The majority of VSHC’s partners are libraries. This presentation will cover the need for legal aid across the state, the basic set up of a virtual clinic, and examples of what kind of help VSHC provides.
Here are some additional resources that can help library staff connect patrons with their legal needs and resources.
- Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries: free Webjunction Course beginning April 2020
- TexShare Databases: Legal forms, Legal Collection and Legal Information Resource Center (access through your Library’s TexShare portal)