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Virginia Legal Aid

Helping to shape the future of legal aid

2017 loomed like a specter in the minds of federally-funded nonprofits. The case was no different for this statewide legal services organization, which receives roughly 40% of its $25MM budget from a federal budget allotment.

Anticipating a climate of increased austerity, and looking to reimagine its own structure, in 2016 Virginia Legal Aid (LSCV) sought to craft a four-year strategic plan. The Brocade team was engaged to rethink every pillar of LSCV, from service delivery to organizational structure. Using a methodical and human-centered research process, Brocade unearthed the varying perspectives of individual stakeholders – including clients, program staff, and political actors.

The Resulting Process and Plan

Brocade used these insights to lead a non-prescriptive strategic planning process with LSCV’s board. Before capturing anything in a glossy report, members were asked to roll up their sleeves and become co-designers of the plan. Research outcomes were used to help the board rethink LSCV’s systems and services, with the goal of alignment between the needs of clients and the outputs of legal aid.

What’s emerged is a strategic plan deeply informed by clients and responsive to political and funding realities, and a guiding framework for the organization to realize transformative change.

After a robust research phase, Brocade produced a resource to aid LSCV’s Board in its strategic conversations

Mark Braley, Executive Director

“Brocade’s approach to strategic planning seeks to engage more than the textual part of our thinking by creating graphic visualizations of the issues facing our organization. This has led to a balancing of the seriousness of our mission with some humor and honesty, avoiding the drudgery often associated with strategic planning.”


Focus Groups Board Planning Sessions Stakeholder Interviews Stakeholder Surveying Data Analysis Sector Review Strategic Planning Visioning Stakeholder Mapping