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Legal Aid Program Teams Up with California’s "WE Connect"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Legal Aid Society of Orange County will open California's first WE Connect Neighborhood Center on April 15, combining civil legal assistance with expanded information about social services and job opportunities.

The WE Connect center will open in Legal Resolutions, a walk-in, self-help center provided by the Legal Aid Society, and will provide information through the Internet, at www.weconnect.net. Persons from outside California can obtain information about social services and benefits in their area by clicking on the "Federal WEb Connector" link on the Web site.

The Legal Resolutions self-help center provides assistance with the creation and filing of pleadings and legal forms. It serves 335 persons a month who walk in for assistance and serves about 4,000 callers each month. Legal Aid's hotline also makes referrals to more than 300 social service agencies. The collaboration with WE Connect will expand possibilities for referrals through a link to its database of social service agencies and benefit programs.

Maria Shriver, California's First Lady, established the WE Connect website and is expected to be on hand April 15 for the opening of the first WE Connect center in Orange County, said Robert J. Cohen, executive director of the Legal Aid Society. "This is a significant undertaking, bringing together Maria Shriver's interest in providing access to social services and benefits with the commitment of her father, Sargent Shriver, to ensure access to justice for low-income Americans," Cohen said.

The WE Connect website also provides a link to the Legal Aid Society's free electronic tax filing system, I-CAN! E-File. More than $97 million in refunds and credits have been returned to low-income workers who applied for the Earned Income Tax Credit through the system, Cohen noted.

I-CAN! E-File was developed through funding provided by a Technology Initiative Grant from the Legal Services Corporation. It is available to taxpayers at www.icanefile.org.

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