Earlier this year, the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services released its status report on the state of our profession. To no one’s surprise, the report claimed the civil legal needs of many Americans are not being met.
The good news, however, is that advancements in technology are on the rise, decreasing this access to justice gap. One of the latest innovations comes from our neck of the woods here in Illinois: ILAO Legal Answers – a virtual legal advice clinic.
This October, Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), the Illinois Bar Foundation, and the Illinois State Bar Association are launching an online portal that will provide qualified Illinois residents with legal support. The service is ideal for lower-income Illinoisans who have household incomes 250% below the federal poverty level who cannot obtain free legal aid, but still need legal advice.
The program allows its users to post their civil legal needs questions to an online portal free of charge. These questions are then answered by volunteer attorneys across the state and categorized by practice area. Users are notified via email once their questions are answered.
Back in 2011, Tennessee launched the first “Legal Answers” program. Since then, a number of other states have formulated similar statewide initiatives with the help of the American Bar Association’s own ABA Free Legal Answers program.
Mark your calendars. ILAO Legal Answers rolls out October 18th. However, ILAO Legal Answers is still in need of volunteer attorneys in all areas of civil law. If you are interested in volunteering your time, please register here.