LIFT Dane News - July 2020

August 5, 2020

The world is moving fast these days and I have lots to report since my March update. As the Director of this innovative, ground-breaking legal initiative, I monitor and am learning more about developments across the country with respect to technology advancements and systemic change. We are fortunate to have a resource such as the Self-Represented Litigation Network, which, due to COVID, has offered a multitude of on-line seminars and meetings on topics ranging from technology, to legal navigators, to court operations. Throughout the spring and summer I have attended many of these meetings and as a result, I have been able to share resources and insights (such as posting power of attorney forms on the State Court website) with members of the court system and those that work within that system. I also have been inspired by op eds and articles written by judges and legal service providers around the country, and have (with their permission) used some of their words to craft messages vital to our community. Most recently, I published an article in the State Bar’s Inside Track, on the need to update and modernize our court processes.

LIFT Dane is working tirelessly on both in its technology development and in holding regular virtual legal clinics to help folks whose drivers’ licenses have been suspended. Fred Lauing, our Marketing Director, and Evan Nordgren, our Outreach Coordinator, have undertaken recruitment, training, scheduling, and coordinating these clinics. Thanks to our volunteer lawyers, including Caitlin Madden, an attorney with Hawks Quindel, S.C., Dena Welden from Judicare, and Woody Stanley, a private practitioner in Madison, who have donated their time and expertise to the clinics.

We are planning a soft launch of our mobile app this summer, which will allow users to complete and mail a form to the Clerk of Courts to get rid of online visibility of their records of dismissed evictions older than two-years, as well as dismissed criminal cases from CCAP (Consolidated Court Automation Programs). Even though cases are dismissed, many landlords and employers still use these cases as bases for denying a person housing or employment. We have worked extensively with our tech partner, Theory & Principle to design the landing page for the application, as well as on content, usability and readability. We will be sure to let you know when the site goes “live” so you can see for yourself how easy it can be to navigate through the process. We are working hard to access additional public data to fully realize LIFT Dane’s potential as well as developing “Tune Up Tips” and compiling companion resources.

LIFT is committed to addressing economic and racial equality through our technology, our service, and our policy advocacy. Professor Wendy A. Bach, a nationally recognized expert in both clinical legal education and poverty law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, recently wrote a blog on Jotwellin which she makes two points that resonated with me. First, as you are all aware, the COVID pandemic has made clear how our country’s small (and largely regressive) provision of economic support has been ripped out from those who already teetered precariously on the ledge of economic security. Second, that our country’s social welfare policy pulls families apart, has more to do with punishment than support, and maintains and strengthens inequality by pulling wealth out of those communities. Indeed, Bach concludes that it is no social welfare policy at all. Furthermore, the past weeks have lifted the curtain (yet again) on structural racism. I encourage you to read her persuasive argument that we need a real social welfare policy that directly addresses economic inequality as well as racial subordination.

We appreciate our champions, including those of you serving on LIFT’s Advisory Committee, volunteer lawyers and advisors, and those of you in the community who are interested and supportive of our work. Financial support from businesses and individuals reflects an investment in LIFT’s ideas and dedication to working towards a more sustainable economically healthy community. Your ongoing support matters. 

We are so excited to share with you how far we have come in the past seven months. So stay tuned and stay safe.

Marsha Mansfield, JD

Director, LIFT Dane

If you have any questions, suggestions, or thoughts, please feel free to contact me at mmansfield@liftdane.org or (608) 698-3733. Thank you for your interest and your support.