While many attorneys get a day off of work today because courts, government offices, banks, and many businesses are closed to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., more than 200 lawyers have volunteered to spend two hours answering legal questions from the public as part of the Indiana State Bar Association’s 10th annual Talk to a Lawyer Today event.
This year, the event includes three dozen walk-in sites around Indiana, plus a handful of call-in sites, including two call-in sites in Indianapolis (one in English and one in Spanish) where attorneys will answer questions from callers from around the state.
In the past, callers have asked about issues concerning family law, particularly child support and custody; criminal law; and consumer law, such as bankruptcy and other debt issues. Organizers expect a similar mix today.
One of the TTALT’s organizers who has been involved since the planning stages for the first TTALT event in 2002, Indianapolis attorney Patricia McKinnon, said more than 200 volunteers were participating this year. She said more than 1,000 attorneys have volunteered since the program started.
All but two pro bono districts have set up TTALT call-in or walk-in sites for this year, McKinnon said.
However, she added, attorney and State Sen. Randall Head (R-Logansport) has helped facilitate two call-in sites in one of those districts, District 5. One call-in site is the office of Miami Superior Judge J. David Grund, and the other is the office of Rochester attorney Danny Seitz.
Most participating districts have one or two walk-in or call-in sites. However, District 1 has about a dozen walk-in sites run by volunteer attorneys in the district that serves northwest Indiana counties, and District 6 has walk-in sites in Delaware, Grant, Henry and Madison counties.
Most of the sites are listed on the ISBA’s website.
Compared with the early years of the program, McKinnon said she has noticed an increase in the number of attorneys who volunteer in the last couple years.
In fact, this year Laurie Beltz Boyd, plan administrator for Heartland Pro Bono Council, which coordinates volunteers for the call in site at the ISBA offices in Indianapolis, said she started a waiting list for volunteers.
McKinnon thanked ISBA president Jeffry Lind for his help in promoting the event, including a 6:30 a.m. interview on WISH-TV in Indianapolis. She said he drove from Terre Haute to downtown Indianapolis for the interview, then headed back to Terre Haute to get to work.
“This year more than ever, attorneys needed to step up and help out the public reeling from the economic blow of the last few years. And they did so,” she said.