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WVU student seeks to improve access to legal services for all West Virginians

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Michelle Richmond, senior social work student

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A West Virginia University student is helping Legal Aid of West Virginia improve its statewide plan for community access to legal services. Michelle Richmond, a senior in the School of Social Work is using data from a needs’ assessment, including responses from other community agencies and organizations, in order to help the organization, identify goals for improving access to legal services over the next three years. Ideas for expanding services and resources include offering community legal clinics online and building a self-help legal library.


“I have helped the organization prioritize, plan for and initiate strategic goals aimed at increasing client access to services through expanding the use of technology with clients, increasing efficiency of services, incorporating social workers and social work interns into service delivery and strengthening the pro bono program. The strategic planning initiative has been a great learning experience for me, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of it.”  

“This year’s strategic planning initiative has taken place entirely remotely, consisting of various subcommittees made up of employees, board members and other professionals from around the state. This mix of inter- and outer-agency perspectives is what makes the strategic planning process successful. I serve on the access to services subcommittee, as I felt this subcommittee would be the best place for me to use my social work skills and knowledge.”  

“Social workers are certainly essential, especially in times of great sociological, economic and political instability. The United States is currently experiencing an uptick of issues in all three areas. Social work is vital to ensuring that vulnerable populations are represented, supported and advocated for in times of instability and crisis. Social workers forge relationships with clients, helping them to become more self-sufficient and stabilize their lives, so social workers should be recognized as front-line workers during the pandemic.” —Michelle Richmond, senior social work student at West Virginia University School of Social Work


Link to the original story: Strategic social work 

Target audiences:

  • Social workers
  • Residents of West Virginia
  • Community members in need of legal aid
  • Prospective students



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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

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