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DCBF hosts a second round of focus groups

The DC Bar Foundation envisions a civil legal system that centers and uplifts community voices at all parts of the legal process. To advance this vision, the Foundation hosted a second round of client focus groups, following an initial round last summer, to better understand what clients want and need from a Coordinated Intake and Referral System (CIR) in the District. The CIR will serve as a single entry point to easily connect residents with a civil legal services provider that can offer appropriate representation and/or legal resources and information.

From April 25 to May 3, the Foundation hosted 13 focus group sessions for 72 community members in partnership with Bread for the City, the DC Rape Crisis Center, the District Alliance for Safe Housing, and Legal Counsel for the Elderly. Sessions were offered both in-person and virtually, with options for English, Mandarin, and Spanish speakers. Participants were compensated for their time and expertise.

The focus groups, consisting of legal services clients, community members, and legal aid intake workers, were facilitated by the Foundation’s trusted evaluation partner, NPC Research. Participants discussed their experiences with accessing legal services in the District, challenges within the existing system, and areas for necessary improvement. And to ensure that a Coordinated Intake and Referral System will work for all District residents, these focus groups were part of a conscious effort to gather feedback from marginalized populations, including older adults, people with limited English proficiency, and survivors of domestic violence.

These focus groups give us the unique and necessary opportunity to respond directly to the community’s challenges and needs. Gathering community input at the ground level for the design of a Coordinated Intake and Referral System is key to creating a legal services tool that is equitable and beneficial for all who use it.

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