Volunteers set records with ABA Free Legal Answers service

More than 140 volunteer lawyers nationwide answered a record-breaking number of civil legal questions last year through the American Bar Association web program ABA Free Legal Answers (www.abafreelegalanswers.org).

In less than six years, 45 states and more than 10,000 attorneys nationally have committed to participating in ABA Free Legal Answers (FLA), which serves as a virtual legal advice clinic by giving income-eligible users the ability to pose civil legal questions to volunteer attorneys. Recognized by the ABA as 2021 Pro Bono Leaders, these volunteer attorneys handled at least 50 civil legal questions each.

"For those who cannot afford an attorney and have nowhere else to turn, ABA Free Legal Answers serves as a critical resource," ABA President Reginald Turner said. "We are proud of the more than 10,000 volunteer lawyers nationwide since the beginning who are helping to meet these important legal needs, and particularly pleased about the efforts of our Free Legal Answers Pro Bono Leaders. We urge other attorneys to step up and assist as well."

Free Legal Answers is geared to expand legal services for low-income communities and users 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. The list of FLA leaders also spotlighted 31 law firms, corporate law departments, law schools and other legal organizations that collectively answered 75 or more questions last year.

Earlier this year, ABA FLA exceeded a total of 200,000 inquiries, doubling its volume in two years, in part because of the pandemic. Four out of every 10 questions posed related to family and children issues, FLA's February report indicated.

In 2016, the national program began through a collaboration between the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the law firm Baker Donelson, consolidating similar programs in Tennessee and other states. It then expanded by inviting other states to participate through the national platform.

Attorneys can volunteer their services by navigating to www.abafreelegalanswers.org and selecting "Attorney Registration."

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