Voices’ Blog

Voices’ Picks for Summer Reading, Watching, and Listening

July 3, 2018 - 1:25 pm
Looking for summer recommendations? Whether you’re lounging by the pool, hiking, driving, or staying inside where it’s cool, we’ve got some thought-provoking ideas for you again this vacation season. Camille’s Pick The podcast 99 Percent Invisible is ostensibly about the “unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” But the show’s stories focus on human interactions with ... Read more

Looking for summer recommendations? Whether you’re lounging by the pool, hiking, driving, or staying inside where it’s cool, we’ve got some thought-provoking ideas for you again this vacation season.

Camille’s Pick
The podcast 99 Percent Invisible is ostensibly about the “unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” But the show’s stories focus on human interactions with the built world in a way that is creative and often poignant, revealing more about human ingenuity, or occasionally ignorance, than about principles of design or architectural theory.

For instance, a recent episode used “curb cuts” to explore the disability rights movement. It turns out that those little slopes in the sidewalk, which many of us take for granted as we wheel suitcases around city streets or step into an intersection, are actually the result of hard-fought victories by disability rights advocates.  Another episode, “Immobile Homes,” explored not only the history of manufactured homes in the United States, but also efforts to organize mobile home owners so they can more effectively advocate for their rights when mobile home park owners try to take advantage of them.

I am still waiting for a “civil court” episode though, where the show’s genial and curious host Roman Mars takes a hard look at what navigating a civil justice system designed for lawyers by lawyers is like for people who can’t afford to hire one. Maybe you can sell him on the idea.

Elizabeth’s Pick
As a lifelong news junkie who misses the days of printed papers, fewer television outlets, and longer news cycles, I find that just making sense of it all requires energy and discipline. A tool that I’ve found helpful is the News Co/Lab, run by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. News Co/Lab aims to help the public find new ways of understanding and engaging with news and information.

If you’re really a media nerd, you will probably also be interested in the collection of resources that comprise Media LIT: Overcoming Information Overload–  a (now-archived) free, online media literacy course. The premise of the course is that while we rely on good journalism to provide accurate information, passive media consumption is no longer enough; we all have responsibilities in this media-saturated environment. The interviews with leading practitioners, critics and academics, and the articles, blog posts and other course materials, will introduce you to a range of intriguing ideas and approaches to make you a savvier media consumer.

Soren’s Pick
The book Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control by Bill Guttentag, Christopher Lehane, and Mark D. Fabiani is quite a mouthful to say but its recommendations and commandments are the exact opposite: concise, easy to understand, and come with specific examples.

How did a Skadden summer associate mitigate the damage from an email that contained the phrase “I’m busy doing jack shit” that he unwittingly sent to the firm’s entire legal department? Which commandment did a CEO violate that led to what a CNN anchor would later call “one of the most bizarre press conferences I’ve ever seen”?

You never know when you will be thrust into the spotlight in the Information Age with the social media mob on high alert. Learn about the basic principles of crisis communication so you’re ready when the day arrives.

Martha’s Pick
For almost five years I’ve been a career legal aid lawyer masquerading as a communications professional. By now, it’s starting to feel like real life. And it’s definitely influencing what I follow.  For example, here’s an interesting, swift (just 30 pages!) survey of ways to think about “narrative” as social justice strategy: “Toward New Gravity,” posted on the website of the new Narrative Initiative.  (Scroll down to locate the full report.)

Cognitive and social scientists teach us that mental schemas and metaphors shape how we make sense of the world. Communications strategists help us design values-based messaging campaigns to influence public opinion and policies. Visual artists, documentarians, musicians, and other creatives have out-sized influence on popular culture. This piece provides a helpful framework for appreciating the many approaches to narrative as a way to advance social change, and for distinguishing among three concepts that tend to get thrown around interchangeably:  frames, stories and narratives.

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Build your media & communications skills

May 10, 2018 - 1:55 pm
Registration is open for the third annual National Legal Aid Communications & Media Training – our signature event for growing and strengthening the army of messengers for civil justice.


v icon sound waveVoices is partnering again with Management Information Exchange to hold a day and a half of training in conjunction with the National Fundraising Conference in Los Angeles.  The Communications & Media Training will take place on July 25th and 26th at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza. 

This year we’re focused on making sure you have the tools you need to succeed, no matter where you are in your communications and media journey.

What’s new in 2018? 

  • “Own Your Expertise” – An interactive workshop with Katie Orenstein, founder of the Op-Ed Project (this is a joint plenary with attendees of the MIE National Fundraising Conference)
  • Fresh and interactive sessions on:
    • messaging strategies for civil legal aid and civil justice reform
    • strategic communications planning
    • how to recognize, leverage, and create your own media opportunities
  • Individualized coaching for a limited number of participants who have a working draft of a communications plan, pitch, or op-ed, and are ready to bring it to the next level; stay tuned for more details about this

Who should come?

  • Advocates, communications and development professionals, executive directors, and others who are interested in the power of communications and media
  • We welcome participants of all skill and experience levels

What will you get? 

  • The chance to build and sharpen the communications and media skills in your toolkit
  • Hands-on training tailored to your specific needs and aimed at creating work products that you can take home and use
  • Time to learn from and connect with your colleagues and peers

Where can you sign-up?

  • Registration information is available here
  • Space is limited; register and book your hotel now

Questions? You can reach us at team@voicesforciviljustice.org 

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Frank talk about communications

April 20, 2018 - 1:00 pm
Voices staff thoughts on some of the highlights of the 2018 frank conference for public interest communicators.

Claudia Johnson thinks you should give a TEDx talk about civil justice

March 15, 2018 - 11:49 am
In this guest post, Claudia Johnson, LawHelp Interactive Program Manager at Pro Bono Net, shares her experience of preparing and presenting a talk on civil legal aid at a TEDx event in her community.

Spotlighting Your Media Successes

January 19, 2018 - 11:33 am
This post highlights media coverage shared by five JusticeVoices Network members. Whether it led to a policy change or a positive outcome for a client, spurred fundraising efforts, or helped convey the value of civil legal aid to an important audience, each of these stories made a difference in 2017. 

A Movement is Growing

December 19, 2017 - 11:05 am
Statewide approaches to communications and media are now bubbling up from coast to coast, and we are beginning to see good results.

Help Us Craft Our 2018 Plan

November 29, 2017 - 6:14 pm
We want to know how Voices can best support your communications work.

The New New Thing

October 23, 2017 - 4:06 pm
Statewide communications networks are the new new thing in spotlighting civil legal aid. Are you ready to work with Voices to create a JusticeVoices network in your state? At the 2017 NLADA Annual Conference in Washington DC, we will convene the first-ever gathering of state leaders to spotlight emerging models for strategy-setting, staffing and communications plans in several pioneering states.

Words to embrace, words to replace

October 9, 2017 - 2:04 pm
In this post, we spotlight the contributions of messaging expert Anat Shenker-Osorio who applies tools from cognition and linguistics to examine not just which words work when discussing civil legal aid and access to justice, but also to explain why certain words work when others don't.

Florida Bar Foundation Uses GIS to Develop Powerful Communications Tools

September 18, 2017 - 3:43 pm
In preparation for 2017's ABA Days in Washington, DC , the Florida Bar Foundation teamed up with SRLN to develop powerful tools for showing policy makers the impact of LSC funding on the lives of Floridians in every part of the state. In this post, FBF Communications Director Nancy Kinnally explains why she believes the the same sort of analysis that made the ABA Day team’s visuals so powerful could be used to communicate with other key audiences, making media, legal advocacy and philanthropic efforts more effective.

News Roundup: Hurricane Harvey, and Right to Counsel for Eviction Defense

August 31, 2017 - 4:38 pm
  Like you, we’ve been unable to take our eyes off the harrowing images of inundation and suffering along the Texas Gulf Coast. We are working to get a jump on a part of the story we know is too often overlooked – the consequential legal problems that inevitably accompany such a disaster, and the ... Read more

How to talk with philanthropists about civil legal aid

August 16, 2017 - 6:02 pm
This summer two important new pieces of research yielded fresh guidance on how to communicate about civil legal aid in a way that builds lasting support. This posts focuses on how to communicate effectively with the philanthropic community.