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Jax Daily Record Thursday, May 10, 201808:10 AM EST

Lawyers answer questions 24/7; Service is free if you qualify

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Florida Free Legal Answers is a cooperative effort between The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association.

Since Florida Free Legal Answers, a cooperative effort between The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association, was launched one year ago, lawyers have answered more than 2,200 questions from the public.

The virtual legal advice clinic gives low-income residents a way to have their legal questions answered for free and gives lawyers a way to improve access to civil justice through volunteer service.

 Florida Free Legal Answers is accessible online 24/7 at florida.freelegalanswers.org, matching qualifying participants with lawyers who can answer questions on a wide range of issues.

While Florida is not the only state participating in the program, it is leading the country in participation. The average answer rate for similar sites is about 70 percent, as confirmed by the ABA, while The Florida Bar’s rate of response is 85 percent.

More than one-third of the questions have related to family matters such as divorce, child support, adoption and name change. Another 16 percent were connected to housing or landlord/tenant issues. Other legal issues include domestic violence, bankruptcy, consumer issues, education, employment, workers’ compensation, wills and estate planning. Florida Free Legal Answers does not answer questions related to criminal law.

How Florida Free Legal Answers works:

● Go to https://florida.freelegalanswers.org  to register and answer a few questions to see if you qualify to use the service. You must have an annual household income below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines; have less than $10,000 in total assets; be at least 18 years old; and not be incarcerated.

● After you register, you may ask a specific question about your noncriminal legal issue.

● You will receive an email telling you when your question has received a response.

● Log back in, see the response, and ask more questions if necessary. Lawyers can submit a single response or have a dialogue with the user through the site. The volunteer lawyers can’t call you or represent you in court.

The information users provide is confidential, and the answers are not associated with the user’s name. Lawyers will see only the information associated with a user’s legal issue.

Users will not know the name of the lawyers who answer their questions unless the lawyers choose to provide it, a user makes a specific request for the name of the lawyer or it is required by a court of law.

Volunteer lawyers will not write letters, make phone calls, file documents or attend court proceedings.

Florida lawyers may enroll by visiting https://florida.freelegalanswers.org, clicking on “Volunteer Attorney Registration” and agreeing to the attorney agreement.

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