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3 dozen TTALT sites around state
While some attorneys got a day off of work Jan. 17 when courts, government offices, banks, and many businesses were closed to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., more than 200 lawyers 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 included three dozen walk-in sites around Indiana along with a handful of call-in sites, including two in Indianapolis where attorneys answered questions in both English and Spanish from callers throughout 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.
One of the TTALT’s organizers involved since planning began for the first TTALT event in 2002, Indianapolis attorney Patricia McKinnon, said more than 200 volunteers participated this year. She said more than 1,000 attorneys have volunteered since the program started.
All but two pro bono districts set up TTALT call-in or walk-in sites this year, McKinnon said.
However, she added, attorney and State Sen. Randall Head, R-Logansport, helped facilitate two call-in sites in District 5, one of the two districts. One call-in site was the office of Miami Superior Judge J. David Grund, and the other was the office of Rochester attorney Danny Seitz.
Most participating districts had one or two walk-in or call-in sites. However, District 1 had about a dozen walk-in sites run by volunteer attorneys in the district that serves northwest Indiana counties, and District 6 had walk-in sites in Delaware, Grant, Henry, and Madison counties.
Compared with the early years of the program, McKinnon said in recent years she has noticed an increase in the number of attorneys who volunteer.
In fact, Laurie Beltz Boyd, plan administrator for Heartland Pro Bono Council, said that this year she started a waiting list for volunteers. Heartland coordinates volunteers for the call-in site at the ISBA offices in Indianapolis.
McKinnon thanked ISBA president Jeffry Lind for his help in promoting the event, which included 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.•
– Rebecca Berfanger