Duly Noted

ABA Free Legal Answers surpasses 250,000 mark

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 the 250,000 mark in total questions in November, reflecting the continued need for pro bono civil legal aid services.

Launched in 2016, 41 jurisdictions, including a 2021 federal portal that addresses veterans benefits and immigration questions, operate nationwide, while an additional jurisdiction soon will join the network. Nearly 11,500 attorneys nationally have participated in ABA Free Legal Answers, which operates virtually.

The nationwide program has emerged as a no-cost way for eligible participants to obtain basic civil legal guidance, as pro bono lawyers have fielded more than 50,000 inquiries annually since 2019. Free Legal Answers topped 200,000 questions earlier this year; through November 30, the program has recorded 253,280 inquiries.

Geared to expand legal services for low-income communities, users of the service must meet income eligibility guidelines applicable to each state. While improving access to legal services, ABA Free Legal Answers also expands pro bono opportunities for attorneys in a convenient way to match their schedules.

Throughout the six-year program, the types and volumes of questions have remained relatively steady, with roughly four out of 10 questions or 40% relating to family and children-related legal matters; 15% stemming from housing and homelessness; and 10% involving consumer/finance.

The program has grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic and has increasingly fielded more questions related to it. 

In November alone, 5,003 questions were submitted through Free Legal answers, and many appeared related to the pandemic. The number of questions represents a 112% increase over November 2019.

Attorneys can volunteer their services by navigating to www.ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org and selecting “Attorney Registration.”

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