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Bay Area law center to receive ABA award for improving access to legal services

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Bay Area law center to receive ABA award for improving access to legal services

By Irma Romero

CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2017 — The ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services has selected the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) of Oakland, Calif., to receive its 2017 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.

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The award honors the center’s commitment and mission to provide legal tools to communities to develop sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs and other vital aspects to thrive. The center imbeds lawyers in communities to provide assistance to urban farms, worker cooperatives, food cooperatives, car sharing programs, housing cooperatives and other projects that create local ownership and build community resilience. 

The Louis M. Brown Award originated in 1995 and honors the work of Louis M. Brown, who for more than 60 years worked toward improving access to legal services for those of moderate and middle incomes. The award itself honors the work of those who advance this mission in ways that are remarkable and replicable. This year, there were 36 nominees that came from bar groups, nonprofits, the courts, law schools and entrepreneurial entities.

The Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services is also recognizing three programs with Meritorious Recognition. They are: 

  • The Center for Out-of-Court Divorce, which works together with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. The partnership leverages interdisciplinary services and empowers parents going through a divorce to work together toward positive outcomes for their children.

  • Maryland Courts Self-Help Centers, which provide free limited legal help in civil cases for people who do not have a lawyer. Services are available in all civil case types by phone, online chat or in-person.

  • The Pricing Toolkit, which is produced by the Chicago lawyer incubator Justice Entrepreneurs Project and the Chicago Bar Foundation. It provides lawyers practical guidance on alternative pricing options to help them deliver value in a way that is more predictable, transparent and accessible for regular people. 

Court Buddy, a wholly automated technology platform that matches consumers and businesses with solo attorneys based on the client’s budget, won the Brown Select award, given to the nominee that gets the most online votes from the general public. Nearly 6,000 people voted for one of the 36 nominees. 

The Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services will present the 2017 awards on Feb. 4 at a breakfast of the National Conference of Bar Presidents during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami. 

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. Our privacy statement can be found online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.