They may not be able to handle mergers and acquisitions over the phone, but volunteer lawyers staffing the Illinois State Bar Association’s 33rd annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day aim to help callers with questions on a variety of legal matters – at no cost.
ISBA President Paula Holderman said that in addition to doubling the number of phone lines for this year’s event - scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 26 - Illinois residents can email their questions or discuss their legal problem with a lawyer using Skype. They can also contact participating bar associations in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties at their respective phone numbers.
Holderman said that last year Ask-a-Lawyer helped between 250 and 300 callers. The calls come from all over the state and assist a broad demographic.
“Folks using the service are those who frankly don’t have money to afford a lawyer or don’t know if they have a small problem or a big problem,” she said.
Inquiries in the past have included questions on family law, custody, divorce, labor, workplace discrimination, landlord/tenant and consumer problems, Holderman said. Callers are given information about their legal difficulties, which may include consulting with another lawyer on the caller’s specific legal situation.
The ISBA and participating bar associations are providing the service at a time when more people have unmet legal needs than at any other time in United States history, Holderman said.
She said that working class people are having difficulties affording legal help. She also said that some rural communities are particularly under-served.
“Some joke that there are too many lawyers,” she said. “There’s not enough in some parts of Illinois.”
Persons with legal questions may choose from these options:
- Call the ISBA toll-free 800.252.8908 or 800.678.4009
- Email your legal question to email@example.com; questions will be answered on Saturday morning, April 26
- Skype-a-lawyer at isbalaw1
- Call Chicago Bar Association – 312.554.2001 (phone lines open until 2 p.m.)
- Call DuPage County Bar Association – 630.653.7779
- Call Lake County Bar Association – 847.244.3143
- Will County Bar Association – 815.436.6000
Each of the participating bar associations operates a lawyer referral service for people who need legal services. Lawyers contacted through a referral service provide an initial consultation at a nominal cost.