Providing legal services remotely: a guide to available technologies and best practices

Legal Services Providers (LSPs) often face challenges in effectively and efficiently providing legal services to their clients. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions existed that made providing services remotely a desirable alternative to face-to-face meetings. Work schedules, caregiving responsibilities and barriers to transportation can all make meeting face-to-face difficult or impossible. Sometimes the nature of the meeting simply does not require an in-person encounter. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to confront the reality that providing legal services remotely is not only necessary to meet the needs of clients, but it is also in the best interest of public health and reducing the risk of infection. Meeting with a client in-person is now often impossible. And even when it is possible – is it wise? In-person meetings might not only threaten the health of the client and legal services staff, but also their families and communities. The purpose of this guide is to highlight some of the ways to provide legal services remotely. Technology has evolved to allow for remote “meetings.” Videoconferencing – until recently available only to large corporations – is now commonly available to anyone with a computer or mobile phone through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and other accessible platforms. This guide is a joint effort among the Open Society Justice Initiative; the Legal Empowerment Network, a global network convened by Namati; and New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit affiliate focused on global pro bono. It was researched and drafted between July – December 2020. Este recurso está disponible también en español / Cette ressource est aussi disponible en français.