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Part I: Vision


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Title: Part I: Vision

Part I Vision Goals
Build a Foundation
  • There are many reasons to create a hotline. Some
    have to do with client access some have to do
    with funding.
  • The number one reason hotlines fail is because
    the program and/or staff do not recognize the
    goal of having a hotline and its benefit for

  • The backbone of leadership is vision.
  • Your vision for the Hotline guides all decisions
    on support, design, implementation, and

  • Vision means you articulate
  • How it will fit within your programs mission
  • How it will fit within your programs delivery
  • Advantages and disadvantages of a hotline in your
  • Impetus for creating hotline now

Role of Hotline in the Programs Mission
  • The hotline needs to have clear
    reasons-for-being to be sustainable.
  • Mission How is the Hotline going to support the
    mission of the program? What is the nexus between
    starting a Hotline and the mission of the work we
  • Delivery Systems How is the Hotline going to
    fit into existing delivery systems, or change

Role of the Hotline in the program the
delivery system
  • Gateway to services
  • Intake system
  • Service provider
  • Referral provider
  • Identifier of patterns and trends
  • Collector of data
  • Coordinate Services (in multi-program

Role of Hotline in Your States Justice System
  • How are pro se services perceived?
  • If few or no pro se services are available in
    your state or area, this may impact the ability
    of the hotline to provide services, or may
    dictate what kinds of services should be
    prioritized. Wherever limited services exist, you
    will notice that volume overtaking the hotline.
    Example family law matters.

Role of Hotline in Your States Justice System
  • Ethical Rules and Support from the Bar
  • Unbundled Services
  • Use of paralegals
  • Ghostwriting
  • Planners need to be familiar with their ethics
    rules regarding these issues and review them with
    hotline staff.

Myths and Facts
  • Every delivery system has pros and cons.
  • Your vision and leadership will determine your
    ability to mitigate challenges and build an
    effective system
  • What are the perceptions of the Pros and Cons?

Advantages for Hotline
  • One point of entry for client Efficient
  • Quicker decisions for clients Yes or No
  • Uniform intake standards -- higher quality of
    intake and advice
  • Cheaper cost per case is lower after start-up
  • Common supervision and intake decisions
  • Frees up branch offices and full service staff
  • Bridges rural inequities
  • More clients served in more areas
  • More exposure to client community
  • Improves technology infrastructure for advocates
  • Identifies advocacy trends for full services

Perceptions of Disadvantages
  • Expensive to start
  • Loss of exposure to clients by advocates doing
  • Clients need representation not advice a Hotline
    gives more people service, but not in-depth
  • Diversion of staff time and resources into
    limited service
  • Less control over case acceptance or less control
    over experienced issue-spotting

Pros Versus Cons?
  • An exact polarity of the pros and cons of a
    hotline, in fact, does not exist.
  • A hotline or CIU is neither all these pros or
    all these cons.
  • These are the issues that you need to consider
    in the development of your hotline. Many options
    exist to mitigate most concerns.
  • A successful hotline is the result of vision,
    the assessment and addressing of these issues,
    and leadership.

The Impetus for some Hotline
  • Funding Cuts
  • Influx of Specific / Targeted Funding
  • LSC-initiatives / Mergers
  • Geographic Inequities (Equitable Service to Rural
  • Larger Service Area
  • Speedier Decisions and Acceptance on Cases
  • Client Convenience
  • Improving Efficiency of Full Service Staff
  • Providing Advice in Expanded Areas
  • Increase Numbers Served

Exercise I Mission and Goals
  • What are the reasons your hotline is being
  • What are the main barriers to buy-in on the
    mission and vision? What concerns exist or are
    expressed as cons?
  • Who is the leader of the effort?

Part II Approaches for Developing a Hotline
Major Decisions
  • Define the Model
  • Define the Services
  • Determine the Staffing
  • Map Out Basic Operations
  • Articulate Goals for Clients, Staff, and

Services of Hotlines
  • Intake Screening income eligibility, conflict
    checks, and general case acceptance
  • Diagnosis of Legal Matter
  • Fact-Specific Advice to
  • All Callers or only Case-Eligible Callers
  • Brief Service Centralization
  • Pro Se Assistance
  • Providing Written Client Information
  • Directing Clients to Online or Written Resources
  • Improved and Targeted Referrals to Agencies
  • Traffic reports or Systemic problem
  • Developing Cases for Pro Bono Panel (hotline
    tells client how to prep for meeting with lawyer)

Clients Served
  • People eligible by legal problem type
  • People eligible by age
  • People eligible by income
  • Special needs?
  • Emergency cases?
  • Seniors
  • Limited English Proficient
  • Some victims of domestic violence
  • Specific legal matters that require specific

Geographic Scope
  • Local area
  • Regional Urban or Rural or Both?
  • Statewide

Relationship to Other Legal Services Providers
  • Does it Serve One Program?
  • One office
  • Many offices
  • Many Programs?
  • Include this in your vision to facilitate making
    it a reality as you design and implement the

Model of Hotline
  • Stand-alone
  • Within a legal services program
  • Within another kind of program (e.g., bar
  • (An important issue in this decision is the use
    of LSC funds and how the hotline will comply with
    LSC restrictions.)

Stand-alone Hotline
Title IIIB Legal Services
Legal Aid Offices
Consumer Agencies
Standalone Advice, Brief Service, Referrals
Social Services
Long Term Care Ombudsman
Low Fee Attorneys
Pro Bono Attorneys
Health Insurance Counseling
Hotline Intake Unit (Single Office)
Clients Call In
Intake/ Screening
Brief Service
Full Service Unit
Centralized Intake Unit (Multi-Office)
HOTLINE Intake, Screening, Advice, Brief
Services, Referral
Multi-Program Intake
Title IIIB Legal Services
Legal Aid Offices
Family Law Programs
Hotline Intake, Advice, Brief Service, Referrals
LSC programs
Special issue Programs
Pro Bono Project
Special Population Programs
Call Routing and Flow
  • Eligibility Screeners
  • Handling Special Callers (LEP, DV, Elderly,
  • Call Back or Limited Call Back Systems

Basic Operations
  • What are current hours of intake?
  • What are intended hours? Considerations?
  • Shifts

Staffing and Productivity
Screener vs. Advocate
Which staffing model is more productive?
  • Complexity of Necessary Screening
  • Range of priority subjects
  • Ratio of screeners to advocates
  • Call Back vs. Queue
  • Bilingual Services

  • Good listening and interviewing skills
  • Knowledge of area of law in the most frequently
    asked questions
  • Understanding of hotline operations
  • Good computer typing skills (or fast two-finger
  • From More Frequently Asked Questions about
    Hotline Operations, by Jan May, et al. MIE, July
    1995, page 33.

Staffing the Hotline
  • Staff Attorneys and Paralegals
  • Easy Supervision and Scheduling
  • High Level of Expertise
  • Stable and accessible
  • Volunteers and Law Students
  • The Price Is Right
  • Difficult to Find
  • May Be Difficult to Supervise
  • Continuity May Be Erratic

  • Pros
  • Attorneys are easy to train in the substantive
    areas of law.
  • Can be used in multiple ways (as supervisors)
  • Can expand the services of hotline easily to
    provide limited representation.
  • Easier quality control systems.
  • Cons
  • Cost
  • Paradigm shift Need to change their thinking.
    Skill is to instruct client on how to solve
    problem for themselves versus approaching the
    problem as if client will be represented.

  • Non-Attorneys
  • Non-attorneys are conscientious about learning
    the areas of law, but training time is longer and
    extensions supervision is needed. Depth of
    knowledge is weak. Quality control methods are

Volunteer Lawyers
  • Pros
  • They are free, specialized, motivated.
  • Can participate or help in materials or training.
  • Best used in their specific area of specialty
  • Good to use if phone system allows for off-site
    routing of calls (from their office).
  • Cons
  • They are busy and frequently do not show
    depending on their own case loads. This, in
    turn, affects their ability to retain training
  • A hotline is only partially about legal advice a
    lot of record keeping. They are not good at
    keeping track of that. Need to take time to train
    and keep motivated.

Volunteer Law Students
  • Pros
  • Free. Their involvement helps establish a
    relationship with a local law school and future
    people in the profession. Potential screening for
    future staff. A program can consider creative
    approaches to retention commit for two
    semesters and well pay for your summer
    internship. Cheap and quality, and you can
    expand their involvement over time, to extended
  • Cons
  • They require training. Several programs wont
    accept law students unless there is a commitment
    for at least two semesters, 1 - 2 shifts a week.
    Also, youll have to juggle finals and breaks.

Inherited v. New Hires
  • Inherited Staff
  • Extremely knowledgeable, cross-training needed in
    other areas, can use them in the training and
    material development, already versed in
    administrative requirements.
  • Morale, perceptions of work, may be viewed as a
    demotion, may be unwilling to change former

Staffing Discussion
  • Discuss advantages or disadvantages to each
    staffing option. For ex Lawyers v. non-lawyers
    generalists v. specialists contract v. staff
    part-time v. full-time?
  • What factors did you consider to determine staff
    size of the hotline or CIU? 
  • What mechanisms or systems need to be in place
    for certain staffing patterns to be successful? 
  • If you use volunteers, how are they used and with
    what success? 
  • If you rotate staff in from different offices,
    can they do it from their offices, do they come
    into the main office, and how are they supervised
    if remote?
  • For programs that inherit a staffing pattern,
    what are your options?

Exercise 2 What is the Scope of Your Hotline?
  • Stand alone or Integrated
  • What services offered?
  • What geographic scope of services?
  • What clients served?
  • What is relationship of hotline to other
    programs, other offices, other units?
  • Hours of operation and intended shifts?

Part III Funding For Your Hotline
Budget Cost Determinations
  • Create a start-up budget
  • Staffing
  • Technology
  • Development of Materials and Policies
  • Office space and equipment
  • Training
  • On-going costs
  • Staffing
  • Refresher training
  • Volunteer recruitment and coordination
  • Technology
  • Maintenance
  • Upgrades

Staffing Costs
  • Direct Costs
  • Salaries for all staff
  • Attorneys, paralegals and/or intake specialists
  • Fringe
  • Include consultants
  • Technical support
  • Project managers
  • Indirect costs (time allocated to
  • time for executive and management staff
  • Researching existing, mature systems
  • Collecting samples and drafting materials
  • Recruiting
  • Advertising
  • Interviews and references
  • Initial orientation and training

All the Bells and Whistles technology expenses
  • Computers
  • Hardware and equipment
  • Software
  • Open source versus licensing costs
  • Telephones
  • Hardware
  • Software and VOIP
  • Consultants and RFPs

Laying Foundation
  • Space Equipment
  • Office furniture-desks, chairs, cubicles v.
    offices (Issue of volume control)
  • Office supplies/postage
  • Fax, copier, scanner
  • Calculate overhead
  • Rent and utilities
  • Written Materials
  • Create your own from samples
  • Mission and Core Values
  • Parameters
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Case handling criteria
  • Checklists and flowcharts
  • Scripts
  • Reference materials
  • Client Legal Information, Brochures, Online Self

Staff Training Costs
  • Cost Savings Tips and Resources
  • Cheaper or Free Trainers.
  • Experienced attorneys in-house for substantive
  • Online training presentations with experienced
    hotline managers
  • Community partners
  • Referrals and resources
  • Non-substantive skills
  • Working with special populations including
    seniors, mental health consumers, LEP, physically
  • Prepare for Next Training Video your trainings
    for future use

Sample Budget Ranges
  • Project Manager 35,000 - 75,000
  • New Hardware Software 1000 per station
  • Phone System RANGE
  • Space 0 - 15,000
  • CMS RANGE (XX - 100,000)
  • Training 0 - 15,000
  • Phone Consultant 0 - 20,000
  • Materials (Creation and Reproduction) 0
    (in-kind) - 20,000
  • Staffing Depends
  • Contract Staff 15 - 35 / hour
  • Outreach and Marketing (Telephone book ads, etc.)

Staff Training Resources
  • AARP Foundation National Legal Training Project
  • Web Trainings for Lawyers on Particular Topics
  • Legal Aid University http//www.legalaiduniversity
  • Web Trainings for Hotline Lawyers
  • Bar-Sponsored Classes

Sample Budgets from Forerunners
  • Telephone Consulting and Systems
  • APALC spent XX on phone systems and phone
  • NWJP spent XX on phone systems and upgrades
  • Bay Legal spent XX on telephone technology
  • Case Management Systems
  • Bay Legal spent XX on CMS tweaks
  • APALC spent about 25,000 on a customized, newly
    created CMS developed for their hotline
  • Others
  • Start Up Management
  • Bay Legal spent XX on start up management
  • Room and Basics
  • Bay Legal spent XX on the room

Resource Development
  • Funding sources and strategies
  • Using data to support the proposal
  • Writing strong narratives on technology and new
    delivery systems

Funding sources strategies
  • Sources
  • Local, regional, state, federal
  • Private foundations and corporations
  • Developing new sources (tech- related, telecom)
  • Strategies
  • Formal, written development plan
  • Designated staff
  • Collaborations
  • Sustainability
  • Seek guidance from funded legal services programs
  • Seed funding and apportioning contributions
  • Psychology in resource development

Grant Writing
  • Think creatively about how you use data
  • Establish quality by
  • Range of services provided
  • Expertise
  • Productivity in number of clients served and
  • Client satisfaction
  • Use national data if you dont have local data

Grant Writing
  • Sell the hotline concept
  • Some social service funders dont like to pay for
    attorney services, so may take extra explaining.
  • The NUMBER ONE way to sell the concept is to
    showcase dramatic personalized stories that show
    how a difference was made. KEEP A BRAG FILE.
  • Demonstrate the need
  • Data on the volume of incoming calls and
    referrals to other programs
  • Research court pro se filings
  • Address in detail services of other agencies
  • Discuss outcomes

Part IV Leadership and ChangeManaging Barriers
to Implementation
Implementing a Hotline Brings Change
  • In your program and its culture
  • Relationship w/other agencies and the courts
  • With your funders and grants team
  • Within your management team and management
  • See, Melissa Pershing, MIE Exchange, Fall 2000.

Change is difficult
  • Emotional intelligence of your program, can it
    get thru change? Timing considerations
  • Operate in concepts of abundance and not scarcity
  • Hotline will change your program and its culture
  • See, CEO-in, Something completely Different, MIE
    Exchange, Kay House, Spring 2002, pg. 7-8.

Hotline Starts From the Top
  • Involve top level management in the planning of
    the hotline
  • Have hotline manager report to first or second in
  • Hotline manager needs to be part of the
    management team

Develop a Timeline to Tackle All the Concerns
From Each Different Group
  • Start internally focus on staff, management
    team, and MIS
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Identify valid concerns and work on those
  • Identify limits of hotline, choose a model that
    works for your program
  • Transform initial resistance into a dialog and
    opportunities for feedback and ownership
  • See, Kay House, CEO-ing, Something Completely
    Different, MIE Exchange, Spring 2002, pg 7-8.

Fears of Staff
  • Incorporate autonomy w/in daily schedules
  • Include training time and down time into schedule
  • Assign areas of ownership and special projects
    to each person
  • Allow staff to as a team develop their own shift
    schedules, break time, etc. and be responsible
    for coverage
  • Create a team that is a problem solving,
    self-reliant, and that can work together to
    overcome most obstacles.
  • See John Tull, MIE Exchange, Spring 2003 and
    Victor Geminiani, The implementation of a
    hotline, MIE Exchange, July 1995.

Overcoming Fears of Routine and Mediocrity
  • Quality Assurance
  • Always have access to expert attorneys while on
  • Have attorney(manager) read all of the cases done
    by the hotline for at least the first 9 months
  • Incorporate training time into the hotline
  • Have others review a 10-20 of closed cases,
    other than manager
  • See, John Scanlnn MIE 2003 ,

Outside Stakeholders
  • If you need funding to do it, you will need to
    work w/funders on it
  • Hard to pitch a concept, w/out any data, no
  • Focus on a specific type of funding and on a
    funder that understands hotlines, technology and
    may offer you technical assistance

Look at your Current Infrastructure
  • Review your advocacy manual
  • Review your basic job descriptions and salary
  • Review your intake/case management software
  • Review your management group
  • Do they support a hotline?
  • Do any of these need to change?

Evaluation of Hotline Key to Overcome Challenges
  • Since your hotline will be an experiment, it will
    be under steady scrutiny by inside and outside
  • Evaluation of the hotline will change the way you
    measure outcomes and performance for the rest of
    your program
  • See Shoshanna Ehrlich, Elements of a High Quality
    Hotline, MIE Exchange, Beyond Serendipity.

Constant Monitoring of Hotline
  • Keep a record on 10-12 numbers every week, month,
  • Number of calls per advocate
  • Number of cases per advocate
  • Distribution of cases, per area of law and county
  • of clients referred for extended
    representation, in-house or to another program

Number of Cases Per FTE/Year
Brief Services Affect on Totals
Sample Goals
  • Sample Goals for Hotlines
  • Goals for clients
  • Goals for staff
  • Goals for administration and management

Goals for Clients
  • Painless, uncomplicated experience for callers
    Free, Easy Access to our Program on a First Call
  • Reduced wait time
  • Ability to respond to emergencies
  • Easy Access to Advocates on a First Call
  • After-Hours Options
  • Ability to Leave Messages with Advocates
    Representing Them (24-hour/7-day)
  • Mechanism to Support Assistance to ALL Counties
    Easy Access 24/7 to Common Legal Questions
  • A Person is Always Available When Open
  • Multi-lingual Capacity

Goals for Staff
  • No Geographical Barriers Among Staff Our staff
    should be able to freely and frequently talk with
    each other for mentoring, case discussions, work
    planning, supervision and other types of support,
    whether or not they are based in the same
    physical office.
  • Maximized Use of Our Support staff Support staff
    should be available for phone answering and
    document preparation for all offices and
    advocates, regardless of the physical office
    where they are based.
  • Promote Productivity and Flexibility for Staff
    Advocates should have flexibility to work from
    remote locations where appropriate to increase
    productivity and effectiveness.
  • Facilitate Use of Pro Bono Attorneys and
    Part-Time Staff Pro bono attorneys should have
    easy ability to communicate with clients and
    receive support from legal services staff,
    without having to physically come to the legal
    services office.

Goals for Staff
  • Ability for Judges, Politicians, Funders, or
    Others to Reach Specific Persons without Waiting
    Non-Clients who need to reach project managers
    and directors should be able to locate and reach
    a personal extension of desired staff, easily.
  • Improved Client Referrals by Subject Matter
    Clients in cue for an initial intake advocate
    should be able to self-select when appropriate
    based on their legal matter to enable effective
    use of pro bono or specialized staff.
  • Improved Client Referrals by Location Clients in
    a cue for an initial call should be able to be
    routed by area code (or prefix) to the office
    that best serves them, if a centralized hotline
    is not used.

Sample Vision for Administration and Management
  • Ability to Partner and Link with Social or Other
    Legal Services Programs Our hotline or call
    intake system should have the ability to directly
    transfer calls based on appropriate referrals to
    participating agencies.
  • Improved Reporting and Management Our managers
    should easily be able to create accurate reports
    of call, hold, service spikes, and other
    patterns and should be able to assess advocate
    efficiency and performance.
  • Ability to Link the Case Management System to our
    Phone System.
  • Ability to Provide for Current or Future
    Opportunities for Video Conferencing between
    offices or other partner agencies.
  • Telephone solutions should be integrated with our
    data systems, easily maintained, and cost
    effective. Inter-office calls should be free of
    charge, and long-distance charges should be below
    market rates.

  • The following resources can be found at
  • ABA Standards For the Operation of Telephone
    Advice Lines
  • Legal Hotlines A How to Manual
  • Legal Hotline Attorneys Manual
  • Legal Hotlines Self-Evaluation Measures Report
  • Senior Legal Hotlines Annual Report 2004

Handling the Details
  • CMS review your CMS from order of how prompt
    moves and special helpline data do you want to
  • Delete any unnecessary data collection - this
    just slows down the whole process
  • Keeping client records and correspondence, do
    they attach to CMS or separate docs
  • Document assembly, hotdocs or something else?
  • Telephone - what is your plan for call routing
    based on Language and substantive law type
  • What is your maximum client hold time - limited
    or unlimited
  • what are your open incoming call hours - remember
    to plan for time to complete advice and brief
    service cases, call current clients with on-going
    issues etc.  Plan for probono hours also
  • Outreachhow will calls get to you? Do you need
    outreach? Will your staff do outreach?
  • LEP what is your plan for LEP clients - phase
    in?  start at once?  use interpreters? Language

The Details
  • Follow up--will you send follow up information to
    clients after the call? Do you have brochures
    available and ready to go? What is the protocol
    if there are deadlines for materials?   what
    other post-call actions will you take
  • Training/ resources for staffcanned notes or
    questions that pop up for your case handlers?
    staff training program what resources are
    available at every attorney's desk for quick
  • Statewide Websites --
    websites w/court info? Registry of action? does
    your state have an on-line case look up system -
    if so train staff on how to use it
  • Counsel and advice, brief service unitmake sure
    you understand where the hotline stops and other
    providers work begins. Start small, then expand.
    Gauge volume before you take more than you can

  • Pro Bono and volunteersremote agents capacity?
    Hours? Training and supervision?
  • what is your client evaluation plan, telephone
    surveys, written surveys etc.
  • Evaluation--how do you comply with the ABA and
    LSC helpline standards
  • what is your plan for client file management -
    hardcopy files, computerized files (attach files
    to CMS or separate system) what is your client
    evaluation plan, telephone surveys, written
    surveys etc.
  • Ethics--what are your state's ethical rules
    related to unbundling? Conflicts? Scope of
  • how will you integrate with court based pro se