Training Your Legal Hotline Intake Staff. January 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM ET . Recording . Today’s webinar is being recorded It will be posted on legalhotlines.org within 3 days Great way to train other staff members that weren’t able to attend.
Training Your Legal Hotline Intake Staff
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Training Goals Help managers design trainings for intake screeners; Help Intake Screeners understand how to manage calls and screen clients for intake and referrals; Alert screeners to typical screening issues;
Outline Confidentiality Third Party (proxy) Callers Conflicts of Interest Legal Issue Spotting Unauthorized Practice of Law Telephone Communication Skills
Confidentiality Intake screener for legal office must keep all information confidential: “Utah Legal Services, thank you for holding. I am an intake specialist working under the supervision of an attorney and this call is confidential.” Intake information for referrals – caller or senior must consent to release of information to referral attorney or agency.
Conflicts of Interest A conflicts check must be done by potential referral attorney/agency before case can be referred; Screener must check client name and adverse party in Case Management System before accepting the case in house or providing any legal services;
Utah Legal Services Conflict Policy A case is only a conflict if the following are true: 1. The case involves the same parties, both the potential client and the adverse party; 2. The case involves substantially the same fact situation as a former case; and 3. We have information from the prior case that could be viewed as detrimental to a party we have previously represented. You should press the “Examine” button to view any and all possible conflicts and/or previous cases to get more information. In all cases, you should verify your assessment of the possible conflict BEFORE you proceed with closing the case as a conflict or continuing with the case. Any questions should be directed to the intake supervising attorney. You may need additional information to determine a conflict.
Third Party Callers Intake screeners must follow their programs written 3rd Party Caller Policy – What is your program policy? Sample Policy: Determine who is party in interest; Ask to speak directly with the client; If the person is unable to speak about the problem, get permission to speak to the caller (proxy); If permission is not possible, if the caller is the guardian proceed with call and get proof later; If caller has Power of Attorney wait to get fax of POA before proceeding with proxy. If you can’t get permission, and caller doesn’t have legal power to by the proxy, decline the call. Link: Ethical Issues and Procedures for Handling Third Party Callers to Your Legal Helpline www.legalhotlines.org
Legal Issue Spotting Identifying Legal Issues and Problems Recognizing LSC Task Force and Title III Area Plan Priorities Recognizing Urgent Matters
Identifying Legal “Problems” Inaccurate credit reports Involuntary discharge Getting rent deposits back Reverse Mortgages Contract disputes Appealing a benefit denial, reduction or termination.
Protecting RIGHTS, not just Addressing PROBLEMS
Identifying Legal “Issues” Applying for Medicaid benefits Rights for transferring property Tenant property rights Contesting credit card charges
Identifying Legal “Issues” Denied access to obtaining credit Unable to make mortgage payment Repeated calls or threats from creditors Supported Living admission/lease agreements
More Legal “Issues” Utility problems Grandparents rights Powers of Attorneys Problems with medical bills or equipment To view a Presentation on Legal Issue spotting go to www.legalhotlines.org
Case Priorities Each LSC must adopt case priorities LSC programs cannot accept other case types for help from either a legal aid staff attorney or a pro bono volunteer AAAs adopt case priorities in Area Plans Title IIIB legal services funds cannot be used for any other case types
When we can’t help - Don’t send your caller down a DEAD END road High quality screening builds credibility with legal entities that receive referrals
Recognizing Urgent Matters Intake Screeners should follow their programs written policy on handling urgent matters; Emergencies include matters where: Assistance needed within next 24 – 72 hours or… health/safety at risk or lose legal rights or options Rule of Thumb: What if Nothing is done today or tomorrow? Connect with supervisor immediately.
Legal Information vs. Legal Advice – what’s OK? Information -- Advice Anyone can give -- Only Attorney can give What the law says -- What the law means Which forms to use -- Complete & file forms Court system -- How Court may rule General -- Specific to situation Advice : “What should I do?”
Legal Information-Not fact specific Definitions NOT interpretations (what the law says, not what it means) Examples of forms –not which form to use Questions about forms-not completing them for someone How court works- what is involved-not how court will rule General referrals-not specific recommendations Anyone can distribute legal information
Legal Advice Is fact specific Involves judgment or interpretation Answers question of “what should I do?” Includes recommendations about legal course of action Includes performing legal research Anything that leads caller to think they are being represented by lawyer
Intake, Transfer, and Referral Processes Available Options for Legal Assistance: Legal Service Corporation (LSC)/Legal Aid Programs Legal HelpLine Title IIIB Legal Providers Other local resources State Bar Referral Programs
Intake and Data Collection
Making sure staff enters all necessary information
Referral Process Flow Chart Caller at or below 125% FPL Desk Manual, Appendix P
Referral Process Flow Chart Caller over 125% FPL Desk Manual, Appendix P
Telephone Communication Skills – Setting the Tone Have them at Hello – your voice has to take the place of face to face meeting; Match your tone to the client; Align with the callers inconvenience or distress before tackling the issue; “They don’t care what you know until they know you care”; Your voice is you – speak in a comfortable pitch and not too quickly; avoid terms the caller may not be familiar with; pause frequently
Types of Clients Needing Special Attention Assertive or aggressive clients Talkers Non-Talkers Frequent Flyers Angry Delusional Diminished Capacity Non-English Speaking Hard of Hearing Link to webinar on Telephone Communication Skills www.legalhotlines.org
Clients with Diminished Capacity Rule 1.14 ….the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client. Capacity is task or transaction specific Testimonial Capacity Contractual Capacity Capacity to Convey Real Estate Health Care decisions
Resources All resources can be accessed at www.legalhotlines.org Telephone Communication Skills for Legal Hotline Advocates Webinar; Legal Issue Spotting for Information & Referral Staff, David Godfrey and Ellie Lanier, MO Dept. of Health and Senior Services (DHSS); Missouri Senior Legal Helpline, What IAS Need to Know, MO DHSS; Utah Legal Services Statewide Intake Script; Ethical issues and Procedures for Handling Third Party Calls at your Legal Helpline.