How Ontra is expanding access to justice with our holiday initiative

December 1, 2023

The 2022 Justice Gap Report from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) highlighted some alarming statistics on the lack of access to justice in civil legal matters for millions of Americans.

The LSC surveyed 5,000 adults in the U.S. to find that low-income Americans didn’t get any or enough legal help for 92% of their substantial civil legal problems.

Accessing the legal system can be a complex and expensive process. It’s no surprise that the report also mentions Americans sought legal help for a civil legal issue only about 25% of the time because they were worried they couldn’t find and afford a lawyer.

What these figures represent is a growing justice gap — a canyon between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.

To help underserved populations protect their legal rights, Ontra’s Legal Aid Alliance (LAA) program partners with the LSC to donate $1 for every document processed via our platform since 2021.

The LSC provides funding to 130+ vetted nonprofit legal aid programs across the U.S. that work with underserved communities to address issues of domestic violence, employment discrimination, opioid addiction, veterans justice, disaster recovery, and more.

Ontra’s partnership with the LSC

Ontra officially launched LAA in July 2021, kicking off a philanthropy initiative that we could expand every year. Initially, we donated $1 for each document processed through our Contract Automation solution. This year we’ve expanded the program to donate $1 for every document processed via our Insight and FundFormer solutions as well.

To ensure our donations go where they’re needed most, we partner with the LSC, which was founded to address the lack of civil legal representation for low-income Americans, including many seniors, veterans, children, and survivors of domestic violence.

LSC is the largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the country. It distributes more than 90% of its funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with more than 852 offices.

In 2022, the LSC served 1.8 million people and helped close 757,000 cases.

How you can help us close the justice gap

We’re proud to partner with the legal community to support these efforts by donating to Ontra’s LAA program. Donors have the option to pick which LSC-vetted nonprofit their donation goes to.

Our top recipients over the last few years include:

  • Legal Services NYC
  • Legal Aid Chicago
  • Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
  • Bay Area Legal Aid
  • Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc.
  • Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
  • Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc.
  • Lone Star Legal Aid
  • Ohio State Legal Services

Many customers opted to direct their donations to Legal Services NYC, a nonprofit that handled almost 50,000 cases, across 20 practice areas, reaching more than 107,000 low-income individuals in 2022 alone.

Legal Services NYC has helped:

  • 55,744 people facing eviction, foreclosure, and other housing crises
  • 15,503 people in immigration matters
  • 23,095 people to access benefits and fight consumer fraud
  • 2,102 people to access health and education benefits

How the legal community is giving back this holiday season

Within six months of launching the LAA, Ontra donated $80,000, which reached 54 organizations. In 2022, we donated $200,000, reaching 64 organizations. Ontra has donated more than $300,000 since 2020, and we’re committed to doing more.

This holiday season, we’re finding even more ways to give to the LAA. While we love sending our customers coffee and tea gifts from businesses that support local nonprofits, this year, we’re offering another option. Ontra customers can opt for us to donate to the LSC on their behalf in lieu of a traditional corporate gift.

We’re estimating our 2023 holiday campaign will generate an additional $15,000 in donations, making this year’s total our largest annual donation to date. Based on the number of documents we’ve processed through October in the U.S., we estimate we’ll donate more than $230,000 this year alone.

Many underprivileged members of our communities are systematically disadvantaged because they don’t have access to legal representation. Together, Ontra, our customers, and the legal community can continue bridging the justice gap in America.

See the impact civil legal aid nonprofits make in the U.S.

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