A story about UA.SUPPORT, the international pro bono legal platform that connects Ukrainian refugees with requests for legal assistance with appropriate lawyers experienced in the relevant field of law and appropriate country.
A few days after the war in Ukraine began, representatives of the NGO AgiLawyer Society and Czech law firm Holubová advokáti came to the rapid realisation that there would be a growing need to address the legal cases of Ukrainian refugees. In March, they launched UA.SUPPORT, an online platform to receive requests from refugees, evaluate those requests and connect the refugees with the appropriate lawyer. The service soon expanded internationally. With numerous lawyers generously offering their services pro bono, the platform has attracted more than 250 volunteers from over 30 countries, mostly in Europe. So far, almost 1,700 legal cases, having a total estimated value of EUR 730,000 in donated hours, have been solved thanks to this project.
UA.SUPPORT combines legal expertise with a smart IT approach. It quickly became clear that it is not realistic to coordinate such a high volume of legal cases via email. Rather, an agile clearing house, which allows lawyers to self-select specific requests for assistance, is a more suitable solution. The system, originally designed for commercial use by law firms seeking to bring order to their work and communication processes, has been repurposed as an effective tool in a new role. The clearing house is an online platform that looks like a website, but is actually a smart system that handles, sends, reports, stores, sorts and analyses requests.
So how does it work? An individual in need of legal help visits the website, where they enter their request via an electronic form. If necessary, a Ukrainian-speaking lawyer will contact them and complete any missing details. The request is then categorized by appropriate country and field of law. Cooperating lawyers are notified that a new request has been created. The lawyer who accepts the task will contact the requester directly and begin dealing with the case. Once the case is resolved, data are forwarded to UA.SUPPORT’s AI tool for processing and evaluation on an anonymised basis. Lessons learned can potentially be included in the site’s frequently asked questions if they might benefit other lawyers and clients of UA.SUPPORT.
UA.SUPPORT is currently handling more than 100 cases per week. Therefore, the project’s representatives are looking for new lawyers who would like to get involved in solving cases pro bono or contribute financially to the platform’s operation.
For further information contact:
Andrew Lustigman, Olshan Frome Wolosky, firstname.lastname@example.org