We have a 2016 winner!
Check back after December 2, 2016, to view the 2017 nominees and CAST YOUR VOTE!
Over 3,800 people weighed in to choose the Brown Select winner from the thirty-three 2016 Brown Award nominees below. The votes are in, and the recognition goes to...
...a partnership between William & Mary Law School's Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic and Starbucks’ Armed Forces Network.
Congratulations to Military Mondays and thank you to everyone who voted!
Pangea Legal Services
Pangea Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm that provides full-scope representation to individuals and families in immigration court proceedings. Immigrants in deportation proceedings benefit by having a lawyer because of the complexity of immigration law and dire consequences of deportation. However, few immigrants are able to access counsel because the high costs of private attorneys and limited number of nonprofits doing court-based work. Pangea helps to bridge this justice gap by offering low, affordable, monthly fees for service.
Wyoming State Bar Modest Means Program
Recognizing the large unmet legal need in the state, the Wyoming State Bar created the Modest Means Program (MMP), a reduced fee referral program. The MMP helps fill the gap by making legal services accessible to lower and moderate income people who are ineligible for legal aid. Participating attorneys agree to charge the client no more than a $500 retainer and $75 per hour.
The Lawyer Entrepreneur Assistance Program (LEAP)
LEAP trains new lawyers to run their own firms and is the incubator hub for Orange County law schools. The hub approach enables a larger, more sustainable incubator that pools available resources and avoids duplication. LEAP’s unique resource integration of pro bono attorneys, retired judicial officers and Legal Aid Society of Orange County’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service make for effective legal services, referrals and mentorship.
PlanetXLaw.com is a cloud-based software and legal-services-delivery system that makes it possible for attorneys to provide 55 of the most common legal services to lower- and moderate-income individuals. The software provides intake forms (both offline and online), How-To Instruction Guides, Cover Letters, Pleading Templates, and every Word or PDF court-form document necessary for the 55 most common legal services.
JusticeInvestor is a social justice online marketplace where meritorious justice cases find funding, lawyers and movement organizers. With JusticeInvestor, online activists can invest for social and economic gains in legal cases. Part of JI's strategy uses viral short films created by recognized and student filmmakers on our cases - to leverage online social justice activists and others to engage and invest.
LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law
LegalRnD has partnered with organizations that train law students, lawyers and other professionals to improve legal-service delivery so that more people can be served. For instance, one team studied the landlord-tenant litigation process through the eyes of self-represented litigants and another is gathering data and process mapping a “hot line” to make improvements that will enable Elder Law of Michigan to serve more clients.
Solo Practice University
Solo Practice University is the only online educational and professional networking community which helps solo/small firm practitioners create and build their own solo/small firms. It teaches innovative ways to reach the underserved and incorporates the use of technology, social media, fixed fees and more to keep legal costs down and affordable. It also works with law schools and their incubator programs and law practice management classes to instill these practices early on.
Sacramento County Bar Association Mentorship Task Force
The SCBA created the Mentorship Task Force to examine the issues that make the transition into legal practice difficult for new attorneys and law students, and to do something about them. The Task Force works with local law schools, students and new lawyers struggling to find opportunities for work, training and experience, to facilitate mentor-mentee relationships and conduct events.
CrowdDefend is a crowdfunding platform to help raise funds for impactful, socially-motivated legal cases and increase awareness about the access to justice gap in the US and around the world. The CrowdDefend platform allows users to present the details of their legal case through videos, images, documents, and text. The CrowdDefend community can review and financially contribute to cases of their choice. Contributors are able to track legal activity related to the cases they’ve given to.
LawHelp Interactive by Pro Bono Net
LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is Pro Bono Net’s online document assembly initiative that allows people representing themselves to prepare their own legal documents and pleadings online for free. LHI promotes innovative models of pro bono, remote and unbundled legal assistance, and supports collaborations with community organizations and libraries. Through trainings, technical assistance and community networking, LHI staff at Pro Bono Net help local programs develop forms for use on LHI and effectively integrate them with their services.
Royselaw Legal Incubator
The RoyseLaw Legal Incubator (RLLI) provides new law school graduates with legal experience while serving low bono, pro bono and social impact legal causes in areas of need that were not fulfilled by traditional legal aid societies or law firm pro bono initiatives. Subsidized by the Royse Law Firm, the RLLI charges clients at a reduced or deferred rate while its lawyers get a year of practical training and supervision, allowing them to launch their law careers.
Pro Se Clinic Calendar Program, Salt Lake City, UT
Cases involving self-represented litigants are placed on the same day on a dedicated court calendar. On those days, attorneys greet the litigants and offer limited scope services. If the case cannot be resolved by a negotiated agreement, the attorneys represent the parties before the Commissioner and the resulting order is drafted by Self Help Center staff. The order is reviewed by the attorneys for accuracy, signed by the Commissioner, and both parties leave with a copy.
NuLawLab at Northeastern University School of Law
The NuLawLab is an interdisciplinary legal innovation laboratory designing, testing, and implementing pioneering models for delivering legal services and information. NuLawLab partners with individuals and communities to identify unmet legal needs and collaboratively design solutions. NuLawLab leverages Northeastern’s cooperative education model to introduce students across the University to creative methods applied to close the justice gap.
Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc.
The Chicago Legal Clinic is a nonprofit sliding-scale law firm that provides community-based legal services to the underserved and disadvantaged in the Chicago area. Services are offered from neighborhood offices to increase access, and are provided in conjunction with court-based programs to enhance the administration of justice. Sliding-scale fees increase the fiscal viability of the program while ensuring that the maximum number of clients will have at least some access to counsel.
Suffolk University Law School Accelerator to Practice Program
The Accelerator-to-Practice Program is a comprehensive three-year course of study to prepare graduates to join or start sustainable law practices serving low and average income clients. The program offers courses in the use of technology for practice efficiency, the creation of automated document systems, law practice management, process improvement and project management, and alternative models for the delivery of legal services.
Military Mondays is a partnership between the William & Mary Law School's Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic (Puller Clinic) and Starbucks and its Armed Services Network. Professors and students from the Puller Clinic provide advice and counsel twice monthly at Starbucks to veterans seeking assistance with disability compensation claims, discharge upgrades, and separation from the service.
Maine Community Law Center
The MCLC offers two year fellowships to new attorneys in exchange for providing legal services at a reduced rate for Maine citizens of low to middle income. The fellows receive training, support and resources of experienced counsel, and hands-on guidance launching a solo or small firm practice. Clients receive legal services on a sliding-scale, as flat fees, through limited representation, or through fee-shifting statutes. Furthermore, the MCLC uses technological resources to further reduce costs and reach clients in more rural areas.
Canadian Bar Association Legal Health Checks
As part of a plan to encourage lawyers to adopt a more preventive approach to practicing law, the Legal Health Checks provide tips to identify legal problems, and then either avoid them or prevent them from escalating. The Checks are distributed in schools, libraries, community centers, doctors' offices and more.
Law 4 Small Business (L4SB)
Most small businesses cannot afford the large retainer fee to get the business law help they need. Thus L4SB was born to meet the demand for cost-effective legal help without retainer fees. L4SB is dedicated to helping give small businesses quick and cost-effective access to competent legal services, and, thanks to a tech-savvy approach and a paperless office, is able to eliminate the need for clients to even come into the office.
Domestic Abuse Self Help Project (DASH) by Neighborhood Legal Services of LA
DASH gives victims of domestic abuse without representation legal and educational services to protect themselves and access the legal system on their own. DASH has 4 fully operational Self-Help Centers, and uses technology and online forms to enable and empower victims to create their own DV pleadings. DASH also incorporates pro bono attorneys to review documents created in remote locations for approval for filing under the supervision of an NLSLA attorney.
Funded Justice harnesses the power of crowdfunding and social media to help raise funds for legal issues. Funded Justice was created because too often attorneys hear “I don’t have the money for an attorney.” The founders of Funded Justice believe that proper legal representation should be available for everyone, not just those who have the funds readily available to be able to pay for an attorney when a legal situation arises.
CrowdLaw is a free crowdfunding platform based in the University of Florida's Innovation Hub. It uses crowd-funding to raise money for advocate organizations, which help serve under-resourced clients. CrowdLaw’s web platform allows advocates to create free profiles and campaigns that anyone in the world can donate to. Campaigns range from criminal justice to environmental rights to children’s rights and more.
Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans (CLCV) from the Colorado Bar Association
CLCV’s mission is to provide legal assistance to veterans and active military personnel. Veterans attend a legal clinic and work one-on-one with a volunteer attorney. If further assistance is needed, the matter is assigned a case number and sent out to hundreds of volunteer attorneys. CLCV uses a collaborative approach and has partnered with the Veterans Advocacy Project at the University of Denver, the Rocky Mountain Human Services and local bar associations.
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health
Medical-legal partnerships (MLP) integrate legal aid attorneys into healthcare settings to address the civil legal issues – such as housing and benefits – that affect health. NCMLP helps hospitals and health centers develop MLPs that help patient-clients access basic needs. MLP’s work helps bar associations, legal aid agencies, law schools and other legal professionals reach people in need of legal assistance by anchoring legal services in the health care setting.
Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center
Levitt & Quinn, a nonprofit family law center, was founded to fill gaps in the legal services offered by traditional, government-funded legal aid providers. Levitt & Quinn provides a mix of free and sliding scale family law and adoption services to help those clients who are so poor that they qualify for traditional legal aid services, but cannot access those services because resources are low.
Open Legal Services
Open Legal Services' mission is to provide legal services to clients who earn too much to qualify for free/pro-bono legal services, but also earn too little to afford a traditional private firm. In addition to solving access to justice for clients, OLS is dedicated to solving the problem of unemployed attorneys. By providing new lawyers on the job training in this work, OLS hopes to instill the values of the low bono movement that they will carry with them throughout their careers.
Suffolk University Law School Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation
The Institute oversees projects and programs designed to leverage technology and other innovations to improve the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. The Institute supports classroom offerings that teach students to create "Apps for Justice" (i.e. automated documents and forms that are donated to legal aid organizations), and serves as a community rallying point for promoting the use of technology to promote access to justice.
Community Legal Services/Expungement Generator
The Expungement Generator (EG) is a web-based program that automates the process of generating expungement petitions, so that individuals can clear their criminal records. The EG performs complex legal analysis on criminal docket sheets to determine if and what type of expungement is possible for a person and produces ready-to-file expungement petitions. The EG is shared with non-profits and pro-bono attorneys, and the software is open-source.
DiFilippo Holistic Law Center
The DiFilippo Holistic Law Center provides affordable civil legal services using limited scope representation to low income Texans who fall within the justice gap. Its holistic approach empowers low income Texans by providing education and tools to successfully access the judicial system, and resources which connect Texans to other service providers, such as domestic violence advocates and social workers, to address problems beyond the technical legal issues.
Hawai`i Access to Justice Commission
The Commission was established to increase access to justice in civil legal matters for Hawai‘i’s low- and moderate income residents. Progress towards meeting this goal includes: making frequently-used civil forms and software that helps people complete the forms available online; a foreclosure mediation program; yearly pro bono commitments from lawyers; and self-help centers with free services from volunteer attorneys.
San Antonio Bar Association's Community Justice Program (San Antonio Bar Association and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid)
Through its Family Law Clinics and Wills Clinics, the CJP supports legal representation for low-income and working poor middle class residents of the San Antonio area. At the same time, it provides local attorneys with the opportunity to engage in pro bono work within an efficient clinic setting.
The Resilient Communities Legal Café of the Sustainable Economies Law Center
The Resilient Communities Legal Café is 1/3 legal advice clinic + 1/3 living classroom + 1/3 community-building space. Three times a month, the Café provides donation-based legal assistance to help low and moderate-income entrepreneurs create worker cooperatives, urban farms, nonprofits, and other projects that build local economies.
UpCounsel provides businesses with an alternative to expensive and slow law firms through an online marketplace and vetted virtual lawyer community. UpCounsel works with entrepreneurs and companies to increase the quality, cost-effectiveness and speed of legal services, while reducing costs. UpCounsel also handles a significant portion of the admin work for lawyers associated with client management.