Working from home? ABA Free Legal Answers offers pro bono opportunities
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As more attorneys are working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ABA Free Legal Answers offers one way to do pro bono and avoid cabin fever at the same time.
On Tuesday, the ABA announced that its virtual legal clinic, which allows income-eligible users to ask volunteer attorneys civil legal questions, surpassed 100,000 inquiries earlier this month. In less than four years, 41 states and more than 7,000 attorneys across the country have participated.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
In May, the ABA Journal profiled Jack Fan, a Texas member who had answered about 1,700 questions over a two-year period.
“Some people ask some really bizarre questions from left field, but I go and start researching,” Fan said. “It makes me a better lawyer, being more knowledgeable.”
Photo of Jack Fan by Daniel Duran.
Fan answers questions on nights, weekends and holidays. He explained that it usually takes only a few minutes to open the website portal, look over questions and provide responses.
The questions are classified by subject matter, allowing attorneys to quickly identify issues they feel comfortable addressing.
Many times, Fan said, people ask where to find specific forms or for guidance on how to handle an issue themselves.
In the past, he has helped people who are getting divorced with where to start or how to file as pro se litigants. Some of his more complex questions included how to reinforce rights in a probate matter after a relative has taken someone’s share of the estate and whether a tenant needs to pay a landlord who was not fulfilling their end of the rental agreement.
“I will get a paying client down the road that does ask a similar question, and because I’ve already heard the question and know more about it, it provides a better platform to address my clients’ needs,” Fan said.
Interested attorneys can volunteer by navigating to www.ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org and selecting “Volunteer Attorney Registration.”