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 they shifted to working from home. That left many Wisconsinites with fewer options for getting help with their legal issues during the pandemic. Wisconsin Free Legal Answers went from being a supplemental service for in person legal clinics to being the primary option for anyone who needed brief free legal advice about a civil legal issue. The following graphic shows how our question volume has evolved over the last 6 months.

With over 260 attorneys registered as volunteers, Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is proud to be a resource for Wisconsin residents during this challenging time. Our volunteers have responded to 619 questions so far in 2020. Family law is still the top area at roughly 40% of questions, followed by employment (11%), housing (11%), consumer (8%), real estate (6%), civil rights (3%), and probate (2%). There has been a substantial increase in employment and housing related questions in the period after Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order.

WKOW TV in Madison recently ran a very nice story about us as part of their Getting Answers series.

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is a project of the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission and is part of the ABA Free Legal Answers network.

Free Legal Answers year in review

Last year was another great year for Wisconsin Free Legal Answers. Here are the numbers for 2019 (with comparisons to 2018). 999 questions asked (up 20%) 948 questions answered (up 28%) 95% answer rate (up from 89%) We also went from 190 volunteers signed up a year ago to 240 volunteers today. The top areas forContinue Reading

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 assistanceContinue Reading

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. SinceContinue Reading

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 isContinue Reading

Supporting LSC and equal justice under law

Today, the President released his budget framework, including a proposal to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, the largest single national funding source for free civil legal assistance to low income Americans. The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission strongly urges Congress to continue its longstanding bipartisan support of LSC and reject this budget proposal. Eliminating LSC wouldContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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 grantsContinue Reading

New statewide help for elder abuse victims

By Sam Wegleitner, Legal Action of Wisconsin Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare will be providing statewide civil legal aid to elder abuse victims through the Elder Rights Project (ERP). The Elder Rights project seeks to help elder abuse victims in Wisconsin become safe and independent, stabilize their lives, and meet their emotional andContinue Reading

Just Wisconsin News for November

In this month’s Just Wisconsin newsletter, we have updates on the Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services, upcoming changes to Wisconsin Legal Advice Online, a new eviction defense project in Milwaukee and some national news highlights. The Pro Bono Honor Society is also looking for outstanding attorneys who have provided atContinue Reading

New study committee on access to civil legal services

A new Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services was recently launched by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. The 16-member committee includes 6 legislators and 10 public members, including Jim Gramling, President of the Access to Justice Commission. The chair is Rep. Cody Horlacher and the vice-chair is Sen. Duey Stroebel. A full roster is available here. The study committeeContinue Reading