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, has released a nationwide list of lawyers, law firms, corporate law departments, law schools and other legal organizations that handled the most online questions in 2022.
Launched in 2016, the program operates in 41 jurisdictions. It also includes a federal portal that addresses veterans benefits and immigration questions. Nearly 12,000 attorneys nationally have registered to volunteer on ABA Free Legal Answers (FLA), which operates virtually. Of those, 140 attorneys are recognized as 2022 ABA Free Legal Answers Pro Bono Leaders for fielding at least 50 civil legal questions each. In addition, 24 law firms, corporate law departments and other legal organizations were recognized for answering at least 75 questions in 2022.
The nationwide program has emerged as a no-cost way for eligible participants to obtain basic civil legal guidance. Free Legal Answers topped 250,000 total questions in November 2022, and through the end of January has responded to 264,727 inquiries.
“ABA Free Legal Answers continues to provide a critical resource for civil legal matters for those who cannot afford an attorney and often have nowhere else to turn,” ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross said. “We salute those attorneys, law firms, corporate law departments and other legal organizations nationally who have demonstrated their extraordinary pro bono commitment by leading by example. We urge other attorneys to step up and assist as well. The need has never been greater.”
Geared to expand legal services for low-income communities, the service requires users to 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.
“It’s a great fit for our department because attorneys can participate in this pro bono project at their convenience, without any expectation of court appearances or a long-term commitment,” said Kristen M. Whittle, who coordinates the program at Liberty Mutual and whose attorneys handled 263 questions in 2022.
FLA began through a collaboration between the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the law firm Baker Donelson. On Jan. 26, the project was spotlighted in the Congressional Record.
- 2022 ABA Free Legal Answers Pro Bono Leaders
- FLA January 2023 Report
- FLA in the Congressional Record: "National Celebration of Pro Bono"
- FLA video overview
- ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
- Want to volunteer? Go to www.ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org and select “Attorney Registration”
- ABA Journal stories on ABA Free Legal Answers