Free Legal Answers Year in Review

It’s been remarkable to see how Wisconsin Free Legal Answers has grown in scope and importance during 2020. We are a virtual brief legal advice service for people who have questions about civil (non-criminal) problems. So, when almost everything else shut down in the spring, our volunteers were often the only resource left for people who couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer when they faced a civil legal problem. We saw our monthly questions double in the spring and …

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Free Legal Answers Pandemic Update

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers, the online legal clinic sponsored by the Commission, has been a key component of the legal community’s pandemic response. As Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order went into effect, all free legal clinics and self-help desks were quickly shuttered. Courts restricted who could enter to file documents or ask questions. All civil legal aid offices closed their offices to visitors and most also stopped taking on new clients at least temporarily while …

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New video – What is civil legal aid and why is it so important?

Here is a great example of how to explain what civil legal aid is and why it’s so important. It’s a network of resources that help make justice available to everyone, not just those who can afford to pay for it. The video was produced by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and is distributed with assistance from Voices for Civil Justice and the Kresge Foundation.

Free Legal Answers Update

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers (WFLA) is having a good year thanks to the great efforts of our volunteers. WFLA is the online legal clinic established by the Commission in partnership with ABA Free Legal Answers to provide an opportunity for qualifying Wisconsin residents to get answers to basic civil legal questions from volunteer attorneys. Since its launch in 2016, more than 1800 Wisconsin residents have used WFLA to ask over 2,000 civil legal questions. We …

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Wisconsin Free Legal Answers 2017 in Review

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers continues to provide an easy way for the public to ask civil legal questions and for volunteer lawyers to respond. Our first full year of operating as part of the national ABA Free Legal Answers network has been outstanding. We proved that an online legal clinic model can work in Wisconsin. Here is what the success of our volunteers looks like:

Legislative Council adopts access to justice recommendations

The Legislative Council met on February 15 and voted to accept both the report and the recommendations from its Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services. The three legislative proposals will: Create legislation encouraging the state departments of Administration, Children & Families, Workforce Development, Justice, and Health Services to use a portion of the federal block grants they receive to assist with the civil legal needs of Wisconsin residents. Create an Interagency Legal Aid Coordinating Council that would …

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50 years of service at Wisconsin Judicare

“I felt hopeless until they stepped in.” “This service kept me from becoming homeless and bankrupt.” By Beth Richlen, Development Director, Wisconsin Judicare For 50 years, Wisconsin Judicare has provided legal services to individuals like these in northern Wisconsin. From Stevens Point to Superior, from Hudson to Marinette, and everywhere in between, the low-income residents of northern Wisconsin face difficult challenges, including equal access to justice.  Questions about how to obtain the return of a …

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Comments sought on access to justice rule petitions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking comment on two pending rule petitions that support access to justice efforts in Wisconsin. The Access to Justice Commission filed Petition 15-06 seeking a rule change that would allocate 50% of unclaimed class action awards to support civil legal services to low income persons (aka cy pres). The State Bar of Wisconsin filed Petition 15-05 proposing rule changes to allow lawyers to claim a limited amount of CLE credit for certain pro bono …

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Pro bono spotlight – Brown County free legal clinic

On the first Wednesday of every month, a group of volunteer lawyers meet at Casa ALBA Melanie in Green Bay to offer free legal advice to anyone who comes in. “We answer legal questions and direct people to agencies, attorneys or other resources that can assist them,” said Attorney Robert R. Gagan. Gagan is a partner in the law firm of Calewarts, Duffy, Gagan & Erdman and one of the clinic’s regular volunteers. He is …

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Taking a holistic approach to ending domestic violence

DAIS logoEach year Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) serves thousands of women, children and men through their life-changing programs. These individuals come from all facets of our community — they are our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. DAIS provides hope and help through its staff and volunteers.

When someone reaches out to DAIS, they are connected with advocates who believe them. They are empowered by advocates to make complicated and courageous choices. They are supported by advocates who are committed to helping them break down barriers to safety through free and confidential services. When necessary, DAIS legal advocates have been able to connect some victims with volunteer attorneys through a collaboration with the Madison office of Quarles & Brady and Community Justice, Inc.. The collaboration with Dane County law firms and Community Justice is a modified version of the Lawyer for the Day program in Milwaukee.

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