Year in Review
It has been a year since AZ 3D Law officially got up-and-running and started helping low-to-middle income individuals afford attorney services. That first year of a charity's life is always crucial, and there were plenty of ups and downs for us, but overall it seems that the year turned out pretty well for us because we still exist. At our board meeting, roughly a week ago, we looked at our accomplishments this year and planned out what we hoped to accomplish next year. It turns out we have quit a bit to be proud of, and we wanted to share that with you, so here we are doing just that! We also want to let you know what to expect from us going forward, and hope it will excite you as much as it excites us!
This past year, AZ 3D Law helped 34 individuals who otherwise would not have been able to hire attorneys and would have instead been forced to represent themselves. In addition to helping people living in Maricopa County (especially Phoenix's West Valley, where we are based) we also helped people in La Paz, Mohave, Yavapai, and Pinal county. Helping people in Arizona's more rural counties, where there are fewer attorneys, is something we are very proud to do because it ties in strongly with our goal of helping people gain access to justice.
Still, helping 34 people is - realistically - a drop in bucket. A recent county bar section newsletter indicated that about 84% of all family law cases have both parties representing themselves, while around 12% have at least one party representing themselves. Similarly, about 31% of all probate cases have both parties representing themselves, while around 61% have at least one party representing themselves. When you consider the fact that these percentages were derived from around 4,000 cases each, the scope of the problem becomes obvious. Again, AZ 3D Law is proud to have helped as many people as we did, but next year we hope to accomplish more by assisting even more people. It would be fantastic if we were able to make even a 1% dent in the statistics we mentioned above.
How are we going to do that? We believe that one of our first tasks is to boost awareness. After all, if nobody knows we exist, we won't really be able to help anybody! To that end, we will be working to increase awareness of our charitable mission. While we seem to be doing an alright job of that, we think we can do better, and we think we can do that by looking to places other than the internet (which is how most people find us). This is something you can help us with! If you think we did a great job for someone, or if you just like our mission in general, please don't hesitate to let people know that we exist!
One of the other things we looked at recently was the services we provide, and the value the people we have helped derived from those services. Our average case involved someone living between 125% and 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (so, for a family of 4, someone with a household income of $48,600 per year or less). The vast majority of our cases were family law cases (and of those, about 2/3 were divorce cases, while the other 1/3 were almost all child custody cases). Realizing this, we are working on ways to help reduce some of the costs of administering these cases. We are looking at technology and automation as ways to help bring our costs down even further, and are looking at ways to help our clients achieve their goals through less-costly means (such as alternative dispute resolution) to lessen the financial sting of the court process. In the future, we also expect to use virtual services to help deliver more service at a lower price. Using technology will allow us to do a lot of good for a lot of people at a low cost, and we are excited by all the possibilities in front of us! Besides that, using technology - like document assembly and automation tools - will allow us to serve more people without our staff costs ballooning out of control.
Overall, we are very proud of what we have accomplished this year, but we know we have a lot more work to do if we want to make a huge difference in Arizona's legal landscape. To everyone who has joined us on our journey so far - thank you! To all the people we look forward to helping next year - we can't wait!