If you have visited Illinois Legal Aid Online’s website recently, you may have noticed it looks different – very different. That is because the site has undergone a total redesign, the culmination of a two-year process to make the website more user-friendly and help those with legal needs gain access to services, even if they can’t afford an attorney.
“The new IllinoisLegalAid.org is designed to deliver an excellent user experience regardless of device, and comprehensive and accessible legal information, lawyer referrals and opportunities for learning about Illinois civil law,” says Teri Ross, ILAO’s Program Director.
The new site, IllinoisLegalAid.org, combines the three websites previously housed under the ILAO brand, streamlining their services to help clients and attorneys alike. ILAO expects about 3 million users over the next year, with half of those being mobile users.
Those looking for help can now browse eight simple categories of legal services, including Family & Safety, House & Apartment, Money & Debt and more. This browsing option will help those looking for assistance who might not even realize they have a legal issue, or what their issue is called in legal terms.
Users can also use the new website to fill out legal forms using a question & answer system similar to Turbo Tax. These forms, provided through LawHelpInteractive.org, help individuals be prepared for court, even if they can’t afford the help of an attorney.
Later this year, ILAO is also planning on adding a “Legal Answers” feature to the site, which will allow people to submit their civil legal questions. ILAO staff will be able to sort through the questions, making sure they are about a civil legal matter, and then trained volunteer attorneys can log on and provide answers. This virtual legal advice clinic has worked well in other states and will provide a new pro bono opportunity for Illinois attorneys.
Legal professionals will also benefit from the redesign since it is now easier to post calendar events, new jobs, internships, fellowships and volunteer opportunities. They can also use the “Legal Answers” system to fill out forms.
“The new IllinoisLegalAid.org offers many new features including free membership to anyone who wants to join,” said Teri. “For pro bono legal professionals, membership includes the ability to post community events, jobs and other opportunities and the ability to suggest an edit to substantive legal content.”
ILAO’s updated site will make it easier than ever for low-income people to find legal services online, and is a great step towards closing the justice gap and helping people in need.