San Francisco family law attorney Christopher Emley has provided countless hours of pro bono legal advice in his nearly 55-year career. But none of those experiences has been as convenient and seamless as the Free Legal Answers Program.
Emley helps answer questions by email from the convenience of his home. He’s handled about 25 inquiries so far with a total time investment of just a few hours.
“I’m not sitting across the desk from a client, so there’s no time pressure,” he says. “It’s fun. I’m at my computer. I can use my various legal research tools. If I have any questions, it’s all at my fingertips.”
Two years ago, the California Lawyers Association teamed up with Legal Access Alameda to offer the service to low-income California residents. The service uses a platform developed by the American Bar Association.
The platform screens consumers to make sure they qualify for free legal aid. Then the consumer submits a question for review by a volunteer lawyer.
Because of Emley’s extensive experience, he gets to review the more complex family law questions and answers before they reach consumers.
“I really like getting the interesting questions,” he said. “For the lawyers who want to keep their hand in to some degree but don’t want to deal with angry clients or angry opposing counsel, Free Legal Answers is ideal. You can use absolutely all your experience and your best judgment to help people figure out what to do.”
In the midst of California wildfire season, the need for lawyer volunteers is greater than ever.
Question topics include COVID-19 and wildfire-related issues of family, divorce, custody, housing, eviction, homelessness, consumer rights, financial, work, employment, unemployment, health and disability, civil rights, income maintenance, juvenile and education law.
Interested attorneys can learn more and register here.