Licensed Arkansas attorney and professional software developer Stewart Whaley, a 2008 Bowen Law School graduate, and his team volunteered time, expertise, and innovation to create iProBono. In the spirit of legal services programs and efforts to close the justice gap, iProBono was developed pro bono.
With the release of iProBono, the tagline "Pro Bono Wherever You Go" has never been truer. The app will help connect Arkansans in need of representation to greater access to the justice system.
Through their iPhones, licensed Arkansas attorneys can now view pro bono cases representing low-income Arkansans, sort through those cases based on legal topic and county, and request cases with a push of a button.
The app's release comes on the heels of steep federal funding cuts for legal services programs. Compounding the loss was an 18-percent cut to state funds that legal aid receives through filing fee increases passed in 2005 and 2009. The cuts translate to a combined loss of more than $750,000 for Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. Combined with the economic downturn, more Arkansans are in need of legal assistance.
"I couldn't fit the typical pro bono client scenario into my normal business day," Whaley said, "but I knew I wanted to do something to help low-income Arkansans achieve better access to justice."
The iProBono app can be viewed in the iTunes store or downloaded through iTunes.
Whaley is the co-founder of LogiCurrent, LLC. He is an advocate of technology's ability to enhance access to, and delivery of, legal services. Arkansas Legal Services Partnership and Access to Justice provided additional support to the iProBono project.
Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services are nonprofit organizations that provide free legal services to low-income Arkansans with civil legal problems, including orders of protection for domestic abuse victims, uncontested guardianships of minors, consumer issues and public housing.
With 17 offices staffed by more than 50 attorneys throughout the state, plus a volunteer pool of about 1,500 attorneys, legal aid services helped more than 30,000 low-income people and the elderly with their critical legal needs in 2010. However, more than 555,000 people were eligible for legal aid in 2010, and thousands of those Arkansans in need were turned away due to lack of resources.