Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP recently partnered with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) to launch the organization’s first virtual legal aid intake clinic and restore access to pro bono legal services for area residents.
The DVAP, a partnership between the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, was forced to shutter all seven of its monthly legal aid clinics in early March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
DVAP quickly contacted Hunton Andrews Kurth and Dallas associate Fawaz A. Bham led the firm’s effort to assemble a team consisting of attorneys, IT managers, administrators, engineers, and security experts to pivot the legal aid application, intake and interview process conducted at traditional on-site clinics to an online model.
The solution involved designing and implementing an online intake tool with a Spanish language alternative for applicants and establishing primary and backup video conferencing and client document upload systems to allow volunteer attorneys to conduct interviews.
Then, a team of 18 attorneys from Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Dallas and Austin offices April 16 conducted DVAP’s first-ever fully-online legal aid intake clinic, “meeting” with 38 applicants.
“I watched the whole process unfold and it was remarkable,” said Dan Garner, who chairs the firm’s Dallas pro-Bono committee. “Fawaz provided vision, drive, and confidence, with a cool sense of urgency and a high-tech vibe.”
On the basis of this success, DVAP intends to continue conducting weekly virtual clinics, with attorneys from Hunton Andrews Kurth scheduled to participate on April 30 and May 7. Because DVAP relies on attorneys from across the Dallas Bar to support its clinics, Hunton Andrews Kurth designed the software to allow use by DVAP with other law firms as well.
DVAP is also exploring offering virtual clinics after its traditional, in-person sessions resume.