American Bar Association

ABA launches free virtual legal advice clinic

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The ABA has unveiled a free Q&A-style program to allow income-eligible users to ask civil law-related questions to pro bono attorneys.

The ABA formally launched on Thursday. According to a press release, the site will function as a virtual legal advice clinic that will serve low-income individuals and communities. The service will also help lawyers by giving them a more convenient, flexible option for performing pro bono work. Free Legal Answers is currently available in eight states — Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming, and the ABA hopes to expand the service to a majority of the country by the end of the year.

“Free Legal Answers is a no-cost, online version of the walk-in clinic model where clients request brief advice and counsel about a specific civil legal issue from a volunteer lawyer,” ABA President Linda Klein said in the press release. “It is an important part of the ABA’s efforts to expand access to legal services to low-income communities. With our partner states, the program also provides significant pro bono opportunities for lawyers. It’s a real win-win.”

Free Legal Answers has existed, in some form, in Tennessee for six years, the press release stated. Meanwhile, Virginia recently implemented a similar service and received interest from over 170 lawyers across the state to participate. According to the press release, Free Legal Answers will contain some similarities with these existing programs.

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service created Free Legal Answers while software developers at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz built the website. Baker Donelson, alongside with another law firm, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, will provide support for the initiative, along with companies from other industries such as AT&T, FedEx, International Paper, Pilot Travel Centers and Wal-Mart, as well as the ABA sections on Business Law and Litigation.

Interested attorneys can sign up here.

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