February 06, 2019

ABA Free Legal Answers volunteer attorneys and legal groups recognized as Pro Bono Leaders

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service annually recognizes individual attorneys, law firms, and other legal groups that have provided extraordinary pro bono services through ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org—a virtual legal clinic through which income-eligible clients can post civil legal services questions to be answered by pro bono attorneys from their state. 

Of the over 5,700 volunteer attorneys registered on ABA Free Legal Answers, 73 attorneys have been recognized for answering 50 or more civil legal questions through the program in 2018.  Volunteer attorneys who answered over 200 questions in 2018 include the following:

Michael Asen of Mittel Asen LLC in Portland, ME

Yu-cheng Fan of Fan Law Office in Dallas, TX

Dennis Fountain of Blackwater, VA

Richard Gossett of Baker Donelson in Chattanooga, TN

Bryan Hathorn of Pasadena, CA

Jennifer Kincaid of Pepping, Balk, Kincaid & Olson, Ltd. of Silvis, IL

Robert Moss of Clayton, MO

Pamela Robinson of USC School of Law in Columbia, SC

Justine Tate of Adams and Reese LLP in Columbia, SC

Leah Wiederspahn of Tallahassee, FL

In addition, the following law firms and other legal groups were recognized for each collectively answering 75 or more questions in 2018:

Adams and Reese LLP

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Baker Donelson

Chapman and Cutler LLP

Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Husch Blackwell

Liberty Mutual

Pro Bono Network

South Carolina Judicial Department

State Farm Insurance

University of Nebraska College of Law

Vinson & Elkins LLP

A complete list of the ABA Free Legal Answers 2018 Pro Bono Leaders is here.

Yu-cheng Fan of Dallas, Texas currently has the highest number of questions answered in the nation and answered nearly 1,100 questions on the Texas site of ABA FLA in 2018. Mr. Fan was interviewed about his pro bono experience with ABA Free Legal Answers and you can read about his experience below. 

What do you like about Free Legal Answers (FLA)?

The initial appeal of FLA was the simplicity and convenience of the site. I do a lot of pro bono work with Neighborhood Clinics hosted by Northwest Legal Aid of Texas and the Dallas Volunteer Lawyers Project, but sometimes it can be hard to get to the clinics because of my schedule. With FLA, I can do pro bono from the convenience of my office or home.

The main thing I like about FLA is that it really highlights many of the nuanced questions and issues that people are facing. One of the great things about doing pro bono is that it gives you greater exposure to client’s problems. Pro bono shows attorneys what issues people are really facing. The convenience of FLA is appealing, but it also really provides a pulse of what is going on with clients today, what issues they are facing, and what questions they are asking.

How long do you spend answering questions? 

I try to spend about an hour a week at a minimum. I check-in and see what questions are asked, and answer as many as I can. It fluctuates, for example from time to time, such as on holidays, I may spend a few hours a day answering questions.

As a solo practitioner, one of the most appealing aspects of FLA is the convenience factor. Sometimes it isn’t practical to travel to do pro bono, but with FLA if you have a few minutes throughout the week to answer questions or provide guidance, you can do a tremendous amount of work without having to travel.

What types of questions do you typically answer?

I generally look at probate and estate planning questions. But, I have been able to expand my practice areas with FLA. If I see a question that I don’t know the answer to, I will find the answer. One of the things that I really like about the site is that it is a way to really build my practice into areas such as family law, landlord tenant, and debt issues.

One thing I find most important about the site is that volunteer attorneys serve as a triage. There are some questions that can’t be completely answered online, but people may not even know where to go for legal help. For us to be able to give some basic guidance first and help them find assistance is also very valuable.

When people come to ABA Free Legal Answers, it may be their last straw, they don’t know where else to turn.

Yu-cheng Fan, ABA FLA 2018 Pro Bono Leader

Since its launch in 2016, over 58,800 client questions have been submitted to ABA Free Legal Answers, over 5,700 pro bono attorneys are registered to respond to civil legal questions and 42 jurisdictions are committed to participateView the ABA FLA 2018 Summary Report here.

For more information about ABA Free Legal Answers, contact Tali Albukerk or to volunteer, visit ABA Free Legal Answers and click on “Volunteer Attorney Registration.”

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