Leadership and Evaluation
Recent Case Studies Showcase Legal Aid Leadership Styles and the Evaluation Tools that Enable Them

The Resource has been involved in two recent efforts that are dramatically expanding the range of simple, effective tools for program self-evaluation. This article outlines these efforts and indicates where people can get access to the results.

Evaluation is taking on new currency as a leadership tool among legal services managers and funders alike. At the heart of this trend is "Program-Owned Evaluation," which, in contrast to the traditional view of evaluation as something imposed from outside by funders, is initiated from within by program management to help assess how well delivery system strategies, staff performance, and quality assurance systems are working.

Because program-owned evaluation proves especially helpful in determining how to make programs more successful, more cost-effective, more accountable, and more accessible to the client population, it should not seem at all surprising that this approach is gaining popularity. Two recent efforts are moving the state-of-the-art quickly forward.

In the first effort, The Resource's Ken Smith and partners John Tull and John Scanlon have worked with the California Equal Access Fund (EAF) to develop an "Evaluation Toolkit" for use by EAF grantees to assess their own projects. Among the tools that are being made available to the legal aid community generally are client satisfaction surveys, case outcome measures, focus group studies and in-court observation protocols. These tools will be made publicly accessible on the Web in October -- Click here for further information about how to obtain copies of these tools.

In the second effort, a group of national leaders in program-owned evaluation - Martha Bergmark, John Scanlon, Ken Smith, John Tull, and Wayne Moore - collaborated to develop a series of ten case studies demonstrating how legal services leaders employ self-evaluation as a strategic part of their leadership methods. The case studies profile some of the best-known leaders in the legal services community including Neal McBride, Mary Asbury, Jeanne Charn and Ross Dollof.

The case studies describe 20 evaluation tools that programs are using to measure seven different domains of program performance, illustrating how a broad array of methods can be adapted to complement a variety of leadership styles. The powerful insights contained in these profiles demonstrate how programs, their client communities, their funders and partners all benefit when legal aid leaders refuse to be complacent about the performance of their programs. Click here for information about how to obtain copies of these case studies.

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