Missouri Bar awards access to justice tech grants throughout Missouri
To help mitigate the impact COVID-19 has caused across the legal community over the last 15 months, The Missouri Bar announced a grant program in March to allow courts, nonprofits, and government agencies opportunities for funding to increase access to justice via technology resources.
The COVID-19 Assistance Grant program was approved by The Missouri Bar Board of Governors in March. By mid-June, grants totaling more than $178,500 in funding were dispersed to 26 various organizations across 19 different communities throughout the state. Grants were made to organizations in cities such as St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia, but most of the funds were distributed in smaller communities such as Forsyth, Fulton, Lexington, Linneus, and West Plains, to name a few.
Many of the grant requests were for hardware and software needs to support virtual programs and remote appearances for lawyers and citizens. Some examples include maintaining virtual support groups, courtroom audio and video updates, and technical equipment such as laptops, AV needs, printers, and public access computer terminals. Additionally, software requests for Zoom licenses and data management systems were also approved.
“The Board of Governors found itself in the serendipitous circumstance of having significant funds resulting from the collection of pro hac vice fees and a glaring technological need, the importance of which was given a big boost from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Gunn, 2020-21 Missouri Bar President. “Proudly, those funds were committed to this program in an effort to assist with the efficient administration of justice, not just during the pandemic, but moving forward further into the 21st century.”
The grant program was funded by a portion of pro hac vice fees received by the state bar. Grant opportunities were continued until the program funding was depleted. Learn more about The Missouri Bar’s efforts to help close the access to justice gap here.