Free legal advice *(some restrictions apply)
June 19, 2017 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Free Legal Answers "is a virtual legal advice clinic. Qualifying users [in some US states who meet income guidelines] post their civil [i.e. not criminal] legal question to their state's website [up to three times per year]. Attorney volunteers, who must be authorized to provide pro bono assistance in their state, log in to the website, select questions to answer, and provide legal information and advice."
posted by jedicus (13 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do I need to register to see the questions and answers ? Or are they only provided via email and not kept/recorded on the web site ? (I may have missed the link.. )
posted by k5.user at 1:37 PM on June 19


But the Internet is already full of free legal answers!
posted by Sangermaine at 1:46 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]


Do I need to register to see the questions and answers?

The questions and answers are confidential. You can see more of the particulars on the attorney agreement page.
posted by jedicus at 1:52 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


This might be the only place on the Internet where people don't anal.
posted by 256 at 2:42 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


finally a place to ask my medical questions
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on June 19 [16 favorites]


The service is available in the following states:

Alaska | Arkansas | Connecticut | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Lousiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Mississippi | Missouri | Nebraska | New Mexico | New York | Oklahoma | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

These are "coming soon" states:
Thank you for visiting your state’s ABA Free Legal Answers site. The site will launch soon. Please check back if you are hoping to ask a civil legal question through the site.

Attorneys can sign-up to volunteer with the site by clicking the “Volunteer Attorney Registration” link above.
Alabama | Idaho | Maine | North Carolina | North Dakota

These states aren't part of the service:
The state you chose is not available

The state you selected is not participating as a Free Legal Answers site, although it may in the future. You can find other legal resources in your state at www.findlegalhelp.org.
Arizona | California | Colorado | Delaware | District of Columbia | Kentucky | Minnesota | Montana | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | Ohio | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | Washington

Anyone want to put those on a map and see if there's an obvious district breakdown, where it might not be available in some places because of legal restrictions?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:57 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


How is Babbe formed?*

*Bipartisan Agreement Between Beligerent Entities.
posted by quinndexter at 1:04 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


Anyone want to put those on a map and see if there's an obvious district breakdown, where it might not be available in some places because of legal restrictions?

Being far too lazy to do this research, I think the very obvious answer would be that only some states permit limited-scope representation, which is what this is, possibly with a side order of certain bars taking an informal position that this does not qualify as same.
posted by praemunire at 10:01 AM on June 20


Colorado offers limited representation, but even if this was limited representation, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. There's no way in hell my malpractice insurance would cover it. It's also an ethics nightmare. Even when I have the client in front of me, one question isn't enough for me to give good advice.
posted by freshwater at 10:20 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


even if this was limited representation, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. There's no way in hell my malpractice insurance would cover it.

Doesn't need to. The ABA provides insurance for the attorney participants:
Malpractice insurance is provided by the ABA for the legal guidance that you provide through the ABA Free Legal Answers website. Malpractice insurance coverage is limited to liability for only those claims that are made against you in relation to the legal guidance you provided on ABA Free Legal Answers. If you receive notice of a claim, you must provide the state administrator written notice of the claim, with full details including the date received, the claimant’s name and address (if known), the dates of the communications on ABA Free Legal Answers, and the alleged wrongful act as soon as practicable, but in no event later than thirty (30) days after the claim is first made.
The program was started in 2016, so I think most of the missing states are just ones that haven't gotten the ball rolling yet, not necessarily a fundamental incompatibility with their ethics rules.
posted by jedicus at 10:31 AM on June 20


It's not the only Ask A Lawyer service out there. I would guess there's some legal precedent.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:48 AM on June 20


Even when I have the client in front of me, one question isn't enough for me to give good advice.

Depends on the question. A lot of people are almost totally ignorant about the law - to such an extent that the one question might be, "I want to start a business; how do I do that?" or "can my neighbor cut down the branches of my tree that are over his yard?" Or the ever-charming, "my teenager's boyfriend uses profanity around my younger kids; can I have him thrown in jail?" (This, of course, is criminal, not civil. But plenty of people won't realize that.)

The majority of questions are likely to be things that anyone with a basic understanding of legal vocab & google could answer. "My rich uncle said he was going to leave me his house when he died but his will cut me out; how do I fix that?" or "can I sue my boss over our dress code" or "my neighbor said nasty things about me on facebook and I want to sue him; how can I do that?"

Most of the answers are likely to be in the range of, "sorry, being a horrible person is not against the law." Many of the rest are going to be, "go online to your secretary-of-state's site, download a Form X, fill it out, and send it to the appropriate department."

Of course, the remainder are likely to be a muddled mix of incoherent details that make it hard to even figure out what aspect of law applies, with the nightmare ethics problems of trying to give advice based on what you're sure is a tiny fraction of the story. So yeah, I could see most lawyers staying far, far away from any service like this.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:44 PM on June 20


This weirds me out. I'm not surprised California hasn't authorized it. Nice that the ABA provides coverage but I'm still not in a hurry to be sued by some wingnut that got a hold of a URL.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:21 AM on June 22


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