Civil legal aid Moves Wisconsin forward

The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission has a longstanding commitment to increasing funding for civil legal aid from all sources, public and private. Civil legal aid has a history of bipartisan support in Wisconsin. So, we are pleased to see Governor Evers building on the good work of his predecessors and the Legislature in his proposed appropriations for civil legal aid in the 2021-2023 budget. This proposed funding increase will bring us closer to meeting …

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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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Unemployment Law Training

The Commission is proud to have hosted a 4-part Zoom webinar training series on unemployment law for volunteer attorneys and law students with our co-sponsors: Legal Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Judicare, and Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. The topic was split into 4 one hour blocks that covered the life cycle of an unemployment benefits claim from basic eligibility and filing concerns to the appeal hearing. Our presenters also covered the special pandemic related benefits 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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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 for questions were Family (40%), Consumer (14%), Housing (12%), Employment (6%), Estates (5%), Real estate (3%), and Other (9%). Wisconsin Free …

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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:

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 would undercut America’s promise of equal justice for all and harm our state justice system.

In Wisconsin, LSC provided $5.2 million in 2016 to two organizations, Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare, allowing them to provide free legal information, advice, and representation on civil matters to over 9,000 low income Wisconsin residents in cities, towns, and villages across Wisconsin. Together, these two organizations help people who have basic civil legal problems with their housing, children, safety, health care, and incomes.

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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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