Baker Donelson has been named a 2014 Beacon of Justice Award winner by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
The Beacon of Justice Awards recognize law firms that have devoted significant time and resources to creating and implementing innovative strategies to improve life outcomes for low income individuals. Award winners were selected by criteria assessing increased access to representation through the utilization of groundbreaking and original ideas, tools and technology to create new delivery models and initiatives.
"Baker Donelson is being recognized for its development of the innovative OnlineTNJustice platform, which provides free legal services via the internet to low income Tennessee residents. A joint project of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, OnlineTNJustice.org was developed with the financial support and technical expertise of the information technology team in the Memphis office of Baker Donelson. It serves as a virtual walk-in clinic where clients can request brief advice and counsel about a specific civil legal issue from a volunteer lawyer," officials said.
The website was created to eliminate barriers, such as geographic location, work schedule or family obligations, that keep those in need from receiving free legal help. It also was developed to expand pro bono services in rural areas of the state and to provide an alternative source of assistance for legal aid clients who are eligible for services but turned away due to an agency's lack of resources.
Baker Donelson also licenses this software to other states free of charge, and it is being implemented across the country.
The Beacon of Justice Award winners will be formally honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner on Thursday, June 26 at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.
"Through its commitment to pro bono representation, Baker Donelson provides legal services to groups and individuals likely to be marginalized in the legal system due to economic barriers. Over the years, the Firm's attorneys have provided a variety of counsel to many populations, including immigrants, refugees, the elderly and the impoverished. Baker Donelson's efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, death penalty litigation, providing corporate legal services to non-profit organizations, and much more." officials stated.