The Arkansas Bar Foundation has announced that it is awarding a $1,500 grant to support the AR Free Legal Answers program. AR Free Legal Answers is an online pro bono advice clinic. Low-income Arkansans post their legal questions to the site and they are matched with a volunteer attorney who responds with advice. The service addresses a critical shortage of attorneys in rural areas of the state by allowing attorneys to provide pro bono assistance online to clients who might be on the other side of the state.
During the pandemic, many in-person pro bono clinics had to be suspended. AR Free Legal Answers responded by ramping up its services to help fill the void. Volunteer attorneys began meeting regularly at Zoom clinics to answer questions on AR Free Legal Answers. Law students from both the University of Arkansas School of Law and the William H. Bowen School of law pitched in too (under the supervision of attorneys).
With the pandemic stretching into a second year, we know that Arkansans will continue to need remote pro bono help. That is where the Arkansas Bar Foundation has stepped in to help. The funding they are providing will help us to achieve two major goals: 1) hold more clinics and 2) reach clients in underserved communities. Arkansas Bar Foundation funding will help us hold at least 20 Free Legal Answers Clinics in 2021 by supporting an upgrade in our volunteer management system. We’ll also use the additional funding to target digital client outreach to minority and rural communities to ensure that everyone can get access to pro bono assistance when they need it.
“We are incredibly thankful to the Arkansas Bar Foundation for their support of the AR Free Legal Answers program. This funding will mean that hundreds more Arkansans get the pro bono help they need than would have been possible otherwise.” Said Jordan Bates-Rogers, Executive Director of Arkansas Access to Justice.
If you are an attorney who wants to sign up to do pro bono with AR Free Legal Answers, click here to see upcoming clinic dates. If you are a person looking for pro bono advice, click here to post your question.
AR Free Legal Answers is operated jointly by the American Bar Association, the Arkansas Bar Association, and the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission. Financial support is provided by the Arkansas Bar Foundation.