"Develop Without Borders," and Parkdale Legal Clinic

At last night's TSPUG meeting, one of our new members was Kevin Smith of the Parkdale Legal Clinic here in Toronto. Kevin told us a pretty cool contest going on, I'd love to see someone take him up on it. I'll let Kevin describe what it's all about...

Microsoft Office 2007 Develop Without Borders

This contest is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation. More than USD$160,000 prizes will be
awarded.  A developer can win over $12,000.00 in hardwared and software, including Office
Ultimate 2007, SharePoint Server with 5 licenses, and Microsoft Server. Deadline to register
is October 1st, but there is time because apparently there isn't a lot of take-up so far.
The developer doesn't actually build the app- they just put together a detailed plan of how
to build it. If the solution wins, the developer works with a "team of Microsoft and HP
experts" to put it into action.

According to contest rules, a developer teams up with a charity to develope a solution for
the charity. More info on how to participate is at:


I have been thinking about developing a collaboration project that would involve extranet
pages developed using Microsoft SharePoint.  However I would need some technical help which
we cannot afford.  Perhaps this contest might provide the opportunity for me to get the help
I need while benefiting a developer at the same time.

Here at PCLS we provide free legal advice and assistance to low income residents of our area.
We are one of 80 community legal clinics covering all the communities in Ontario.  Sometimes
we work on a simple legal solution for our clients, but sometimes the client's case involves
a more systemic problem that requires a systemic (law reform or community development)
solution.  One type of example is a tenant in a highrise with disrepair problems in their
apartment.  Going to the housing tribunal as an individual can be a 'crap shoot' and will
alienate the landlord against this one tenant.  However if we get the tenant to agree that
the best solutions is to organize a tenants association in the buidling, all the tenants can
speak with a united voice to the landlord about their problems.  It 'empowers' the tenants
and is more likely to get effective, long term results.. This requires a number of people to
work on the client's case together.  This can include a community legal worker doing
community organizing work in the community, and may involve one or more staff of other
agencies helping to support a law reform or organizing campaign for the client.

Tenant organizing is just one example.  We sometimes work on difficult 'charter challenge'
cases that can go all the way to the Supreme Court. These can almost bankrupt a small clinic
and the coordination of all the players can be almost overwhelming.  It is difficult to get
all of these people together and 'on the same page'.   If we could develop SharePoint
extranet web pages for these clients and those helping them, then everyone could work
together, on the same ['virtual'] web page.  The client, the lawyer, and the other people
supporting the law reform or organizing case and any related law reform/organizing activities
could all collaborate easily and have an up-to-the-minute picture of where the case and
related campaign stood.

A template could be developed that could help other law reform agencies, usually non-profits
and charities, to develop SharePoint collaborative problem solving sites.  This empowers the

I think it could have even broader application.   t would be a very valuable tool for any
social service agency [or even community medical clinics] wanting to facilitate a 'multi-
disciplinary' solution for their client or patient.

There is a lot of talk in the legal research literature and law schools about delivering
legal services [to both poor and rich clients] using 'collaborative lawyering,' where the
client gets to take a much greater role in developing solutions to their problem and
directing those solutions [both traditional legal solutions and other solutions], empowering
the client in the process.  Many big law firms are starting to work on 'collaborative
lawyering' and client 'extranets' for their big corporate clients.

I'm always telling the law students I work with that we should be providing at least
comparable, if not better, legal services for our poor clients.  This is a way of helping to
do that.

Thanks for offering to post info about this promo.  Let me know what you think about this.

Kevin Smith, Clinic Director
Parkdale Community Legal Services

P: 416-531-2411 ext. 242
F: 416-531-0885
W: www.parkdalelegal.org

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