By Brett Thomas, Cohen & Malad LLP
The American Bar Association recently awarded the Louis M. Brown Select Award to the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Virtual Ask a Lawyer program last week. Winning the award was quite a feat as the other finalists were programs run by state bar associations. This national recognition reveals the special and unique nature of our legal community, which is so willing to help those in need.
The Virtual Ask a Lawyer program was started at the height of the pandemic in March 2020. It quickly became clear that the in-person Ask a Lawyer program, which occurred semiannually, was not going to be a reality for the foreseeable future. It was also clear that the number of people who would need legal advice would increase exponentially in response to COVID-19 lockdown measures.
In a matter of days, the IndyBar Public Outreach Committee, which I chaired in 2020 along with Cassie Nielsen of Rubin & Levin PC, and staff member Kari Hartman created a virtual platform where members of the community can submit questions to an attorney volunteer during business hours. Volunteers sign up for specific time slots and can answer these questions during work hours. Each volunteer is equipped with an electronic Commonly Asked Questions resource guide to assist with legal topics outside of their expertise. Since launching in 2020, Virtual Ask a Lawyer volunteers have answered nearly 8,000 questions.
To start a chat, website visitors can click the chat button conveniently located in the bottom right corner of both the indybar.org and indylawyerfinder.com websites.
We are always looking for new volunteers! If you are interested in reporting some convenient pro bono hours, go to indybar.org/probono. For questions about the Virtual Ask a Lawyer program, contact Kari Hartman at [email protected] •