Founded in 1958 by the Orange County Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free civil legal services to low-income individuals and seniors and to promote equal access to the justice system through advocacy, legal counseling, innovative self-help services, in-depth legal representation, economic development and community education. LASOC’s client community consists of individuals whose incomes fall below 125% to 200% of the federal poverty threshold and those over the age of 60. In 1984, LASOC expanded its service area to include southeast Los Angeles County, where it is known as Community Legal Services (CLS).
According to the March 2007 California Commission on Access to Justice, two-thirds of the legal needs of low-income individuals in California go unmet. There is only one legal aid attorney for every 8,361 low-income Californians and one private lawyer for every 250 Californians. The “justice gap” identified by the commission in its report includes indigent persons that lack access to essential civil legal assistance. This lack of services detrimentally impacts individuals, families and communities in need of legal services.
One way that LASOC serves self-represented litigants is through the Interactive Community Assistance Network (I-CAN!™), a computer-based legal document preparation system that enables individuals to prepare legal documents for filing by answering questions posed on a computer screen. By designing I-CAN!, LASOC has used the latest advances in technology to expand access to the legal system, improve the quality of pro per-prepared pleadings and to maximize limited resources available to assist both low-income and modest means individuals.