Free Legal Answers website provides Online access to assistance
Alabama Free Legal Answers is like a virtual legal help center. It’s a website where eligible folks can ask civil legal questions for free online, and volunteer lawyers provide answers.
Free Legal Answers is a project of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Currently, Free Legal Answers is in 39 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and there’s a federal page for immigration and federal veterans’ questions.
In Alabama, the Alabama State Bar plays a crucial role in managing and overseeing the Free Legal Answers program and coordinating it with the state’s Volunteer Lawyer Programs (VLPs) to answer questions. The Alabama Law Foundation – the heart of the Alabama State Bar – partners with the Alabama Access to Justice Commission to support the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyer Programs (VLPs) to facilitate the service.
“By leveraging technology to connect attorneys with users seeking assistance, Free Legal Answers removes barriers to obtaining legal assistance for the public and barriers to providing legal assistance to volunteer lawyers and fosters a more inclusive and equitable legal system,” said Linda Lund, Director of the Alabama State Bar VLP. “In doing so, the Free Legal Answers program contributes significantly to democratizing access to justice and upholding the principles of fairness and equality before the law.”
People turn to Free Legal Answers with a variety of questions across different areas of law. Here are some examples:
- How do I file for divorce in Alabama?
- What are my rights regarding child custody?
- Can my landlord evict me without notice?
- What are my rights as a tenant if my apartment has maintenance issues?
- Can my employer fire me without a valid reason?
- What steps should I take if I’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination?
- How can I dispute a charge on my credit report?
- What are my rights if I’ve purchased a defective product?
- How can I declare bankruptcy in Alabama?
- What options do I have if I’m struggling with debt?
Health and Disability:
- What benefits am I entitled to if I become disabled?
- Can I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance?
- What actions can I take if my civil rights have been violated?
- How do I file a complaint for discrimination?
These are just examples, and the range of questions can be extensive. The program is designed to cover a broad spectrum of legal topics, ensuring that individuals can seek guidance on various issues they might face.
Visitors to the Free Legal Answers website will first answer a few questions to see if they qualify for the service. If so, they can set up a free account and ask a specific question about a civil legal issue. Site visitors will receive an email when the question is answered. They can log back
into their account on the site to see the response and ask more questions as needed.
The VLP is a crucial piece of the puzzle in providing free legal assistance through programs like Free Legal Answers. Its main purpose is to mobilize lawyers who are willing to donate their time and skills to help individuals facing legal challenges who can’t afford traditional legal services.
Lawyers can contribute their time based on their availability and preferences. It’s a flexible way for legal professionals to make a positive impact on their community by offering their skills to those who might not otherwise have access to legal help.
In essence, the Volunteer Lawyers Program is a bridge, connecting the legal community’s willingness to help with the individuals who require legal assistance but can’t afford it. It’s a win-win for both lawyers looking to give back and those seeking legal guidance.
Offering legal counsel on Free Legal Answers is a flexible way to volunteer. Lawyers can answer questions remotely, fitting it into their schedule without the need for in-person commitments. Plus, it allows attorneys to diversify their experience by tackling a variety of legal issues.
Free Legal Answers is generally available to individuals who meet certain income and asset guidelines, making it accessible to those who might not be able to afford traditional legal services. The specific eligibility criteria can vary by jurisdiction, but here’s a general overview:
- Income Levels: Typically, individuals with low to moderate incomes are eligible. The specific income thresholds may vary depending on the guidelines set by the program in a particular state.
- Assets: Some programs also consider the value of a person’s assets. Individuals with limited assets may qualify for free legal assistance.
- Legal Issue: Eligibility often depends on the type of legal issue. Free Legal Answers primarily addresses civil legal matters, and individuals seeking assistance for these types of issues are generally eligible.
Users need to check the specific eligibility criteria outlined by the Free Legal Answers program in their state, as these criteria can vary. This ensures that the assistance is targeted to those who genuinely need and qualify for free legal advice.
For more information and to see if you qualify, visit the Alabama Free Legal Answers website.
Lawyers who are interested in providing volunteer lawyer services for Free Legal Answers and other VLP programs, go to https://www.alabar.org/programs/volunteer-lawyers-program/enrollment/form/ to volunteer to become a VLP lawyer.
The Alabama State Bar will host a Legal Answers clinic on Dec. 20, providing an opportunity for volunteer lawyers to come together to answer questions from the Free Legal Answers website.