by Kathy Para
The JBA Pro Bono Committee chair
For most people, there is usually an instance in their lives in which they have legal questions that need to be answered or a legal matter that they are hesitant to face.
However, many people don’t have the money to speak to an attorney and, in fact, may not actually have a legal issue.
At an “Ask-A-Lawyer” event, people have an opportunity to ask questions of pro bono attorneys in brief face-to-face interviews.
This brief counsel is sometimes all that is needed to empower the person to take the next step to resolve their problem. The service is free-of-charge.
Local attorneys and law students donated their time June 18 to provide legal guidance and information about available community resources.
Attorney members of The Jacksonville Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association and the D.W. Perkins Bar Association along with students from Florida Coastal School of Law were on hand to answer questions and serve as interpreters for Spanish-speaking attendees.
“Ask-A-Lawyer” was held in conjunction with the Eighth Annual Health and Neighborhoods Day, which included free health screenings and live entertainment.
“Ask-A-Lawyer” events are coordinated by the Pro Bono Committee of The JBA, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and neighborhood community development corporations.
The Health and Neighborhood Days event is implemented annually by the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation. This is the second year that “Ask-A-Lawyer” has been an added service during the event.
For the attorneys, this was a chance to give back and serve the community.
“It’s important for us to be out in the community, providing assistance and guidance,” said pro bono attorney Adam Deli.
“If we can reassure and direct one person to resolution of a stressful situation in his life, we’ve made a positive difference,” he said.
In the eyes and hearts of the many attendees, the attorneys and students were compassionate and professional and made that positive difference.
They clearly provided attendees with a valuable educational opportunity.
“I got exactly the information I needed,” said one of the attendees. “Thank you so much for being here.”
“This is a wonderful service,” said another. “Too often we worry too much and are too afraid even to ask a question. Being able to talk to an attorney one-to-one and get some answers makes the problem manageable. My family and I thank you.”
The law students who attended assisted with the setup and logistics of the event.
They were also given a chance to observe attorneys and how those attorneys interact with clients, providing a wonderful lesson in professionalism for the law students.
Sincere thanks are extended to all the attorneys and law students who made this “Ask-A-Lawyer” event another successful and valuable community service.
Thanks to these attorneys for their professionalism and for providing legal advice and guidance: Eric Roberson, Brian Sorrells, Diane Paull, Kevin Moore, Missy Davenport, Matt Spohrer, Bruce Maxwell, Susannah Collins, Zeina Salam, Vanessa Newtson, Dan Bean, Kim Clayton, M.R. Jordan, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Penny Schmidt, Rebecca Caballero, Adam Deli, Markus Sermons, Sarah Sullivan, Rick Lasseter and Latangie Williams.
Thanks to these Florida Coastal School of Law students for their assistance and participation in the event: Donna Dackow, Liz McCarty, Jorge Mares, Danielle Vanover, Hayley James, Kenyetta Mullins, Sarah Allison, Kori Crawford, Mike Barbren, Lisa Dennis and Stephanie Gladney.
“Ask-A-Lawyer” events are held four times a year.
The next events will be held on Sept. 24 and Nov. 5.
Attorneys interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chair, The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at [email protected] or call 356-8371, ext. 363.