We are excited to announce the launch of our “Legal Aid Alliance” donation program. Effective immediately, for every document processed on our platform, we will donate one dollar to support non-profit legal aid organizations.
As a business, we rely on the existence of a stable, functioning legal system that upholds the rule of law. As individuals, we similarly rely on an equitable legal system to maintain a free and just society. Unfortunately, accessing the legal system is often a complex and expensive process. As a result, many of our underprivileged neighbors are systematically disadvantaged by our justice system.
As participants in the legal industry, we have a responsibility to be a part of the solution. Each donation we make will support one of the 132 vetted, nonprofit legal aid programs that are grantees of the Legal Services Corporation. These programs work with underserved communities across the country in such areas as domestic violence, employment discrimination, opioid addiction, veterans justice, and much more. We are excited to support them.
The shocking murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, was for many an unavoidable reminder of the longstanding inequities across America. At the same time, the ongoing pandemic was exacerbating those disparities, further deepening the divide in many areas, including access to already limited legal resources. These incidents prompted us, like many, to take action.
In 2020, Ontra partnered with our customers, the lawyers working on our platform, and our employees to donate more than $100,000 to causes that supported a more just society.
However, these were not new issues, and those donations were not enough. We asked ourselves what we could do to combat systemic inequality in an ongoing manner.
In working to find a long-term program to combat systemic inequality, we were struck by the efficacy of legal aid organizations. Simply put, they return stunning value to those who need it most. Vermont estimated a $6 million investment in legal services in 2017 created $66.4 million in economic value, according to an American Academy of Arts & Sciences report. That same year in California, $37 million in legal grants helped recover $134 million, prevented the loss of another $43 million, kept 4,895 families in their homes, and helped obtain 4,874 restraining orders to protect domestic violence survivors.
Access to justice is also a matter of civil rights. In 2019, organizations under the LSC’s umbrella helped about 750,000 people; 58.7% of them were people of color and 28.3% were Black. The rule of law that allows American businesses to thrive should remain constant for everyone in our society regardless of issue or demographics, and it has not. The solution to this problem lies in consistent, long-term support for all underprivileged people. That is why we decided to launch this program.
Through this effort, we hope to partner with our customers to bring greater attention to some of the problems facing the justice system.
Our account management team will work hand-in-hand with our customers to determine where the funds generated by their documents will go. We’ll share annual impact statements with stakeholders to help highlight the effects of this program. And the more we and our customers grow, the more we’ll give!
At Ontra, our vision is to give our customers freedom from repetitive, routine work so they can focus on what’s most important to them. For far too many of our friends, neighbors, and communities, the justice system seems antithetical to freedom. Its inherent problems are reminders that the bedrock values on which this country was built — equality and freedom — are ideals that we must fight for every day. These are problems that will not be quickly or easily fixed, but we are committed to being an ongoing part of the solution. We will continue growing our efforts and standing alongside so many others that are working toward building a more just, equitable society.