There are many socioeconomic barriers creating obstacles for minority and underserved populations seeking legal help. Existing websites simply provide resource links and emails for legal contacts, which are inadequate given the complex and challenging nature of the legal process. Our site, ParaCOVID (linked below), provides assistance to vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 through direct connections to pro bono legal groups. Our approach considers the cultural context of each community by including different language options and supportive and encouraging wording built into our interface so users can feel confident and assured in asking for help. We offer an online platform that matches individuals affected by COVID-19 with legal advocates in order to provide guidance and to address the various issues brought about by the pandemic--not only to address immediate concerns, but also to minimize the long-term impact of these affairs.

Myriad pro bono legal task forces have formed in response to COVID-19 across the country, but we believe few have the tech-based skills to operate efficiently over the internet. Our website automates basic paralegal consults and paperwork in order to facilitate a client to lawyer relationship efficiently, in a manner that simplifies the complex web of legal processes. As legal forms vary across different law firms, it is difficult to standardize a questionnaire to screen for eligibility. Our platform’s flexibility allows lawyers to provide input on the survey’s content, which enables us to recruit and accommodate a diverse group of legal groups. Users will then be connected with the firm most suited for their needs through the website’s program. After this, the firm receives the information they need and can initiate the process of helping clients affected by the COVID pandemic.

Our team ran into challenges during the process including: how we can adequately address the socioeconomic disparities surrounding the pandemic (and reduce them!), how to make the legal process easier, and how we could translate our goals into a coherent message and website platform. Through the process of research and development, we found answers.

We’re proud of how we were able to identify a unique problem that has not yet been addressed in previous COVID-19 hackathons. Our solution will have a meaningful impact on helping those affected by COVID-19 as it can help a wide range of issues including challenging insurance companies for exorbitant COVID related medical charges, addressing unlawful evictions during a no-eviction mandate in many parts of the country, and more. The resource we created can truly impart meaningful change in our country.

ParaCOVID has the potential to grow and become a standardized platform for all law groups offering pro-bono support. Because we take into consideration client zip-code location, the help we offer can be limited geographically. Incorporating tele-legal services is a complex issue that can be developed in the future.

Share this project: