Last year presented many challenges to all of us, especially to our low-income client community. They faced extreme hurdles, including having fewer opportunities to be heard in court. This pushed SMRLS to think outside of the box and create innovative solutions for helping our clients.
To increase access to our services, SMRLS built virtual courtrooms in our Rochester, Mankato, and St. Paul offices, with more on the way. These virtual courtrooms allow our clients and attorneys to safely be present in the same space during remote hearings. They have microphones, lighting, plexiglass, and face masks. We’re also in the process of retrofitting a vehicle to serve as a virtual, mobile law office. The “Justice Bus” is currently being outfitted for handicapped accessibility and it will have all the fixtures necessary to be a fully operational remote law office later this year.
Additionally, SMRLS and more than 250 community partners came together to install civil legal aid kiosks in libraries, courts, and other convenient places state-wide for our clients to receive legal information. Together, we're breaking down barriers to deliver our free legal services to those in need.