A parent/student agreement contract created by corps member Tiffany Otoya.
Law offices nationwide use programs to create guided interviews that result in the creation of legal pleadings, letters, and other forms. Programs creating the interviews upload the forms to a server and formulate questions that correspond to blanks in the forms where entries such as names and addresses of plaintiffs and defendants, etc., would go. Because the forms use logic-based variables, and because most legal proceedings require filing numerous documents, the interviews save a great deal of time for attorneys, who can avoid entering the same information again and again. From the perspective of a low-income person proceeding on his/her own, the interviews help by restructuring the process of filling out forms into a way that makes sense. MLSC currently lacks someone primarily dedicated to developing and promoting automated court forms, even as the justice community’s interest in the forms is rapidly increasing. A CTC VISTA would fill that void.
In short, the responsibilities of the VISTA member will be to develop, promote, and evaluate the use of guided interviews based on legal forms, with continual assistance from the project supervisor.
The primary goal of the project was the creation of court form assembly interviews for low-income Minnesotans and volunteer attorneys who serve them. Ms. Kim was successful in meeting that goal, creating 16 interviews, some of which including sets of multiple forms. These interviews allow attorneys and clients to efficiently complete complex court forms, educating them about the process throughout, and avoiding duplicative effort in completing repeated fields. Low-income Minnesotans and volunteer attorneys now have an easier, more efficient way to complete dozens of critical court forms. Some of these interviews have been used hundreds of times. For clients, the structure of the interviews eliminates a great deal of the intimidation usually associated with form completion. The impact to low-income clients is immeasurable because of this. Other beneficiaries are pro bono attorneys, who can now more easily provide assistance in areas of law unfamiliar to their daily practice without a great learning curve, and courts, which should expect to see many more informed and prepared self-represented litigants.
A VISTA member would work with Pro Bono Net staff to define short and long-term strategic outcomes for immigrants’ rights initiatives, create a project plan, and support Pro Bono Net and its partners in achieving outcomes defined in the project plan. Each of these initiatives uses technology to benefit low-income immigrants.
Goal 1: To provide strategic guidance and technical support for Pro Bono Net’s immigrants’ rights initiatives
Goal 2: Work with Pro Bono Net staff and partners to develop a training curriculum and toolkit to support the nonprofit immigrants’ rights sector
Goal 3: Research, implement and support new technology projects
Stephanie’s primary focus was to develop a marketing database and other technology tools to expand our membership. In the year that Stephanie spent with us we increased our membership by approximately 1/3.
Stephanie’s efforts lead to a significant increase in membership as well as developed a robust marketing and outreach database that will continue to be a valuable tool for our project.
Stephanie took on a number of ad hoc research and other projects based on her interest in immigration law and policy. She also helped to support our social networking initiatives and overall content management.
Prometheus has always done work to make the workings of the FCC more transparent and to bring a wider array of voices to the table as the FCC considers the media future. A VISTA will allow the organization to reorganize this often harried work into a more systematic operation for Prometheus.
The regulatory research project involves researching legal and technical issues as they relate to communications regulations, for the purpose of informing regulatory rule-makings. This would include topics such as Low Power radio, media ownership, spectrum policy, and the analog to digital transition.
Goal 1: Make FCC regulations and lawsuits relevant to media reform accessible to a broad audience
Goal 2: Prepare outreach plan for future FCC filing windows
Goal #1 for our second VISTA was to “Make FCC regulations and lawsuits relevant to media reform accessible to a broad audience.” Brandy Doyle has developed a working knowledge of FCC regulations and telecommunications law that she’s used to educate both the general public and other staff members on the rules that impact community radio. She has written a number of brief, plain-English articles about complex regulatory subjects, including digital radio, radio spectrum policy, and broadcast media ownership. Brandy led the effort to develop a comprehensive plan for the organization’s regulatory work, including a 20+ page document on regulatory work – the most comprehensive the organization has ever produced. This plan proved instrumental gathering input from the entire staff collective in decisions about future regulatory priorities. As part of her goal to make regulatory procedures more accessible, Brandy designed and led a series of public workshops in different settings. In April Brandy held an educational workshop at WMNF Community Radio in Tampa, Florida on media ownership and FCC rulemaking process. In May, Brandy co-presented on “Community Journalism: Its Relevance in Radio and How to Bring it to your Newsroom” with Terri Klemetson, news director at KMUD, and co-presented “The D.C. Report: Community Radio, Politics And Policy” with Pete Tridish at Grassroots Radio Conference. Also in May, she facilitated a discussion with Davis Media Access about the challenges and benefits of community radio/public access television partnerships. Brandy has been aided by her coworkers in the regulatory policy team who have taught her how to research FCC dockets and given her context and information to make sense of them. She has also received support from the rest of the staff.
Because of her own interests, skills, and experience, Brandy has chosen to taken on a number of general writing and editing projects for the organization. Brandy has worked with the communications staff to think through a more comprehensive press strategy, not just a press strategy for outreach, as described in her VISTA assignment, and has played a role in improving our process for media advisories and press releases. Another responsibility Brandy has taken on has been to help coordinate aspects of our new website launch. She’s also taken on responsibility for responding to requests to volunteer at Prometheus, a role that rotates amongst collective members.
All of Brandy’s work has been conducted with an eye towards sustainability. The documents she has helped to produce continue to be re-used on our website and in policy briefs for FCC staff and public education. Brandy has provided an invaluable long term contribution to our organization. - Danielle Chynoweth, VISTA Supervisor
A step by step guide to determine if a nonprofit should start a forprofit subsidiary. Prepared by Randy Cox.
The Berkman Center’s Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic are pleased to announce a one-day symposium and CLE program to celebrate the launch of the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN). OMLN is a legal referral service that connects qualifying online journalism ventures and digital media creators with lawyers willing to provide legal services on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis. It supports promising ventures and innovative thinkers in online and digital media by providing access to legal help that would otherwise be unavailable.
A number of people have been asking me lately, “what can I get out of the conference?” It’s a great question, with a simple answer. If you work in any sector of politics or advocacy, the Politics Online Conference is going to show you how technology and the internet is being used to raise money, build relationships, cultivate contacts, build organizations, increase communication, and much more. In short, the conference will show you how you can use technology to be more effective and more efficient.