CHICAGO — The American Bar Association web program ABA Free Legal Answers, which gives income-eligible users the ability to pose civil legal questions to volunteer attorneys, surpassed 100,000 inquiries earlier this month.
In less than four years, 41 states and more than 7,000 attorneys nationally have committed to participating in Free Legal Answers, which serves as a virtual legal advice clinic. Of those, 87 attorneys in 2019 handled at least 50 civil legal questions each and are recognized as 2019 Pro Bono Leaders.
“The milestone of reaching 100,000 questions for ABA Free Legal Answers underscores the need for expanding free and affordable civil legal services,” ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said. “The ABA is pleased to know people are using this free service and proud of our thousands of volunteer lawyers nationwide who are helping to meet their important legal needs.”
Geared to expand legal services for low-income communities, users of the service must meet income-eligibility guidelines applicable to each state. While expanding access to legal services, ABA Free Legal Answers also expands pro bono opportunities for attorneys in a convenient way to match their schedules.
Legal guidance is limited to non-criminal matters and takes place entirely online. More than four out of 10 questions relate to family and children legal matters (42%). Next in the volume of questions, 14% of the inquiries stem from housing and homelessness while consumer/finance questions amount to 11%.
Residents of Texas, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee and South Carolina have generated the most questions, with the highest number of participating attorneys coming from Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Illinois and Virginia.
“So many times, we find that limited scope advice can make all the difference in someone’s life,” said George T. “Buck” Lewis, founder of ABA Free Legal Answers and a shareholder at Baker Donelson in Memphis, Tenn. “For those who cannot afford an attorney and have nowhere else to turn, Free Legal Answers often serves as a critical resource for qualified legal advice.”
The national program began through consolidating on- the-web existing programs in some states. It then expanded by helping other states establish their own programs. Nationally, attorneys can volunteer their services by navigating to www.ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org and selecting “Volunteer Attorney Registration.” ABA Free Legal Answers is a project of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.
The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View the privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.