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Legal aid organizations in Florida, Illinois and Washington are rolling out new statewide, Web-based case management systems that will allow them to work more efficiently with similar agencies across their states and with volunteer lawyers, organization officials in the states said. “With everyone using the same software, it’s going to reduce some of the duplication that was going on and allow programs to communicate with each other and funders more easily,” said Caitlin David Carlson, the Seattle-based executive director of the Legal Foundation of Washington. The new systems will link about 30 legal aid agencies in each of Washington and Florida and three major assistance organizations in Illinois covering that whole state. Such agencies receive federal and state government grants, funds from charitable organizations and interest on lawyers’ trust accounts for clients, among other sources, to provide legal services to poor and disadvantaged residents who can’t afford to pay for private legal help. The systems keep an archive of staff and volunteer attorney notes on each case, track e-mail communication for the case, and archive documents related to the case. For the agencies, there’s a greater ability to aggregate and report on case data across the state and also zero in on areas where certain legal needs are or are not being met. For volunteer attorneys, the systems will provide legal guidance and limited electronic access to case information that reduces paper work, the agencies said. “Anytime we can more quickly and easily get access to all of the client and case documents, that’s a benefit,” said Winston & Strawn’s director of public interest law Greg McConnell, noting that there’s still a natural tendency for the firm to want to maintain its own log of pro bono efforts as well. PS Technologies Inc. created the three new systems and will provides services at a cost of about $20,000 to $100,000 per agency, depending on the size of the agency and $500 to $1,500 in ongoing monthly fees, said I.V. Ashton, who is president of the Chicago-based company. Other companies that provide competing software include Cleveland-based Pika Software LLC and Springfield, Ill.-based Legal Files Software Inc.

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