Free Legal Advice Offered on MLK Day

By Rachel Martin

January 21, 2013 Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The Volunteer Lawyers Program of Northeast Indiana is offering free legal advice on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honor his legacy.

Need some legal advice? On Monday, you’ll be able to get that service for free. The Volunteer Lawyers Program of Northeast Indiana (VLP) will be hosting its annual "Talk to a Lawyer Today" program. It’s where low income families can seek legal advice from licensed attorneys, all pro bono.

Approximately 175 lawyers participate in VLP, which offers free consultations to low incomes families in nine counties. VLP is made up of a small staff of paralegals who interview and place clients with attorneys who’ve agreed to volunteer their services. Executive Director Terry McCaffrey says on average, they place 1,000 cases annually.

“If someone gets referred from our office, they go into an attorney’s office just as a paying client would so they’re not stigmatized,” McCaffrey said.

“Talk to a Lawyer Today” is an annual service that's been going on for eleven years, and McCaffrey says anywhere from 50 to 200 people take advantage of the opportunity. He says he chooses to hold the program on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honor his legacy.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was about justice for everyone. In fact, he was quoted as saying, 'justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere,' and we believe that's true. Low income people especially have a particular set of legal needs and they often can't afford to access the justice system,” he said.

Also on MLK, Jr. Day, VLP will launch its brand new website, inlegalanswers.org, where people can submit their legal questions 24 hours a day and attorneys can answer them, free of charge, at their leisure. McCaffrey says Indiana is one of only a few states that offers the online service.

“In our office we talk to up to 10,000 people a year, and about 25 percent of those people don’t really need to see an attorney, they just need someone to talk to give them some legal advice,” he said.

VLP deals with legal issues such as divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, guardianships, housing and employment. McCaffrey says the only legal issues his office doesn’t deal with are criminal.

“Talk to a Lawyer Today,” the walk-in free legal advice, will be offered in Angola and Huntington, and at the Allen County Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21.

To visit VLP’s website or free legal advice website, click on “News Links” on our homepage.

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