Swimming in Spreadsheets: Volunteer Lawyers Foundation Is Salesforce Savvy

Jan 6, 2020

LSO Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) realized they needed a new strategic plan focused on having a more meaningful impact in the community and improving the tracking of that impact to better tell their story: their purpose, their clients, and their volunteers. The decision started a journey away from swimming in spreadsheets that ended when they landed on a shore where technology solutions allowed them to accurately track and report data focused on clients, volunteers, and impact.

Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation

Volunteer Lawyer Organizations handle a significant amount of data — data about donors, grants, cases, and volunteers. Before the strategic decision to focus on data and impact, AVLF was juggling spreadsheets and paper notations in its casework files. They needed a robust solution that would grow with the organization. We helped install a custom, Salesforce-based CRM. Salesforce.org aided the nonprofit law firm by improving its efficiency via the integration of client and volunteer data and provided significantly improved accuracy in their data management and reporting capabilities. The project transformed how this nonprofit law firm operates, including their decision to hire a Salesforce administrator.

Since implementing our solution, AVLF is better able to track necessary information for its attorney and non-attorney volunteers and can easily update volunteer attorney assignments and case developments in real-time during its legal clinics. The technology solution has dramatically increased AVLF’s efficiency in serving clients, including the ability to instantly view clients’ entire histories with AVLF. These improvements enable the staff to give the highest level of customer service and to respond to clients’ specific needs in real time while improving its volunteer-to-client matches.

Michael Lucas, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF)
Michael Lucas, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF)

AVLF went from an organization with a very limited case management system to track clients and cases — plus the all-too-common myriad of word documents, excel spreadsheets, and even hand-written notes — to an organization that uses Salesforce and its mapping application for nearly every aspect of our work, from tracking the location of our cases, to detailed grant management and donor relations, and even supervisor approval of expenses. And that transformation has inspired more innovation as we are now moving to more teleworking and cloud-based offices for our increasingly mobile operations. In short, AVLF is unrecognizable — in a good way — from where we were before we started working with TechBridge.

— Michael Lucas, Deputy Director, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation

The solution included MapAnything technology, which can efficiently upload, integrate, and share location-specific data. They can monitor and report on school systems, poverty, public health, and other demographic data and see the information overlaid on a neighborhood map. The MapAnything technology has been instrumental in AVLF’s program Standing with Our Neighbors where it places lawyers and community advocates in under-performing schools to locate and assist with the intersection of housing, education, and health.

This program partners with schools and other community partners to focus volunteer resources on improving living conditions and housing stability in low-income neighborhoods — all to improve residents’ health, reduce school enrollment turnover, and enhance student attendance and performance. The program has grown from one to nine schools. The combination of MapAnything with the technology build-out by AVLF, including Salesforce.org, has allowed them to access, organize and create data-driven reports to show current and potential donors better how the work they’re doing is making a difference in specific communities.

The data now tell a very compelling story. In , AVLF volunteer attorneys donated over 13,400 hours with a value of over $3,495,500. Their volunteers saved hundreds of clients from eviction, helped survivors get the family law help they need, and helped families get back on their feet into safety and stability. Robust reporting allowed the AVLF to increase its foundation funding significantly. The reports allow them to focus on the specific impact of each grant down to hyper-local areas and to showcase those results in real-time.

Learn More about Technology, Innovation and Collaboration at the ITC2020 Conference

Legal Services Thought Leaders Connect at ITC2020 to Promote Access to Justice & Legal Representation for Low-Income People

The ITC2020 Conference brings LSOs together from across the nation to share the power of technology addressing the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.

Preparing Legal Services Organizations to Harness Technology through Tech AssessmentsEnhancing Collaboration through TechnologyTransitioning to Office 365

  • LARRY CLARK — CIO — in Residence, TechBridge
  • JON MILLER — Director of Technology, Legal Assistance of Western New York
  • JOSEPH MELO — Director of Engineering, Just-Tech
  • GUY LESCAULT — Executive Director, Legal Services Alabama

  • BRYAN BABCOCK — Data Analyst, TechBridge
  • JACK DAILEY — Director of Policy and Training/HCA Coordinator, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.
  • SAMANTHA SANCHEZ — Legal Technology Leader, TechBridge
  • RACHEL STOBER — Senior Tenant Right to Counsel Coordinator, The Eviction Defense Collaboration

  • PAUL SWINEY — Deputy Director of Operations, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands
  • JOHN HARVEY — Senior Solutions Architect, TechBridge
  • CHRISTOPHER JONES — IT Director, Legal Services Alabama

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