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Just Search' For Legal Information


25 September 2006 at 1:09 pm
Staff Reporter
Just Search is a new on-line search tool developed to help access information about law and justice issues experienced by socially and economically disadvantaged people.

Staff Reporter | 25 September 2006 at 1:09 pm


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Just Search' For Legal Information
25 September 2006 at 1:09 pm

Just Search is a new on-line search tool developed to help access information about law and justice issues experienced by socially and economically disadvantaged people.

Just Search has been developed by the IT team at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW to improve Internet access to its research.

Sue Scott, the Foundation’s Knowledge and Information Manager says Just Search provides access to the full text of reports in their Access To Justice And Legal Needs program, and allows users to search across reports to collate information on specific topics.

Just Search also provides access to other relevant research, plain language law resources and access to some justice organisations in NSW working with particular groups of people.

For example, Scott says if you wanted to find information about how people are affected by fines, Just Search would show relevant sections of Foundation reports where this issue has been raised, and also provide a list of other organisations’ research and current plain language legal resources on this topic.

The Just Search results would be categorised into:
– Foundation reports about fines,
– other organisations’ research on fines
– plain language legal resources on fines

This means the researcher can swiftly see some of the work already produced on issues of interest.

Just Search can be found at –www.lawfoundation.net.au/justsearch or from any page on the Foundation’s website by clicking on the Just Search icon.

The Law and Justice Foundation is an independent statutory body working to improve access to justice in NSW, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people by conducting empirical, evidence based research into the legal needs of disadvantaged people in NSW; supporting the production of high quality, plain language legal information; providing grants programs; and by working collaboratively across the justice sector.

Its Access To Justice And Legal Needs reports have to date investigated the particular legal and access to justice needs of older people, homeless people and people with a mental illness.

Do Away with Not for Profits?

Despite generating trillions of dollars in annual revenue, Not for Profits “don’t get no respect” according to one fundraising guru who says we need to do away with Not for Profits – well, rename them at least!

Dr. Stephen Goldstein of The Nonprofit Institute in the US says Not for Profits should rename themselves Community Investment Organisations (CIOs).

Goldstein says that in a capitalist society, where being in business and competing to make money is admired, many people think Not for Profits are second-rate because they ask for contributions.

He says some NFP executives even think of themselves as paupers. The head of one told me that a NFP is an organization that, because of what it does, cannot make money. Another confessed to thinking that fundraising is begging.

He estimates that only about 1 in 10 people understands that NFPs can and should make money above expenses. They just call their extra dollars “surplus” and reinvest them in their organisation, instead of distributing them, like businesses, as shareholder dividends.

So Goldstein says NFPs need to turn the negative image and culture of charities into a positive by renaming them CIOs.

First, he says like public companies, CIOs would publish annual reports, showing that they produce a financial, not just a “feel good” result–a return-on-investment of dollars donated to them. For example, besides any dollar surplus a program for teen substance abusers might generate, it could estimate the cost to society of lifetime drug users, track successful graduates, and tally the money it saves the public long-term.

Second, renaming NFPs could invigorate fundraising. CIOs could make a case to donors to give major money to efforts they can show pay dividends to society. Donors who see their money multiply will contribute more, more often.

Obviously, he says the US tax office is not going to officially change NFP to CIO soon. Organisations may even resist redefining.

But he predicts that those that explain how they are community investment organisations will raise more money.

Is this way off beam or an element of truth? If you would like to comment just send us an email to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au .



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