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 300,000 total inquiries in July and wrapped up its third annual summer associate challenge.
Launched in 2016, the program operates in 41 jurisdictions and also includes a federal portal that addresses veterans benefits and immigration questions. The most recent count shows that 12,500 attorneys nationally have registered to volunteer on ABA Free Legal Answers, which operates virtually. A total of 301,672 civil legal questions have been addressed through July.
The nationwide program has emerged as a no-cost way for eligible participants to obtain basic civil legal guidance. 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.
Questions related to family and children remain the hottest topic, accounting for 38% of all questions in July. Questions focusing on housing and homelessness (16%) and consumer/financial (10%) together provide for about a quarter of the inquiries.
In the 2023 Summer Associate Challenge, Husch Blackwell LLP, which has about 20 offices nationwide, answered the most questions (146) with the assistance of 17 summer associates and 30 attorneys. A total of 224.60 hours were donated to ABA Free Legal Answers over the 10 weeks that Husch Blackwell’s summer associates were at the firm.
The ABA began the summer challenge in 2021 in response to the increasing need for pro bono legal services and the desire to instill a commitment to pro bono early on in an individual’s legal career. This summer, more than 124 associates and 120 volunteer attorneys from 16 states answered more than 447 civil legal questions posted by income-eligible individuals.
- July 2023 ABA Free Legal Answers Report
- 2023 Summer Associate Challenge and About Husch Blackwell
- Free Legal Answers in the Congressional Record: “National Celebration of Pro Bono”
- Free Legal Answers 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