Questions remain to be answered!

It’s been two years since Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) launched the Maryland.FreeLegalAnswers.org website (“MFLA”).  The site allows low-income Marylanders to log in and ask civil legal questions to a volunteer attorney at no cost.

How it works

Interested attorneys can sign up to review client questions, with no obligation.  If you see one you can answer, check it out, draft a response, and send your response to the client.  Log the time you spend helping clients in need, and report it with your other pro bono service on your annual pro bono report to the Court of Appeals.

As a site volunteer, you are free to subscribe to specific legal categories in which you feel comfortable answering questions. The site will alert you when relevant questions come in.

Malpractice insurance is provided by the ABA for the legal guidance that you provide through the site.

History

MFLA came about as a part of the American Bar Association’s “Free Legal Answers” initiative, which started in Tennessee in 2016. Many states across the country administer their own Free Legal Answers websites to increase access to legal help for low-income residents.

The site functions as a Q & A service, where lawyers can answer questions on their own time – at any time, from any location.  It’s so easy, we call it “Pro Bono in Your Pajamas!”

Statistics from the first two years

  • Over 1,000 low-income clients in Maryland have registered to ask questions.
  • Each month, the site receives 40-50 questions.
  • Over 100 attorneys have registered to provide answers.
  • In the last year alone, clients have used the site to ask over 400 questions.
  • Family law remains the hottest category of questions, followed by housing & property, debts and purchases, immigration questions, and much more.
  • About 36% of user questions receive answers. This statistic points to a great need for additional attorney help.
  • Attorneys have logged hundreds of hours of pro bono service through the site to date.

Getting involved

Attorneys interested in participating should visit “Maryland.freelegalanswers.org” and click “Volunteer Attorney Registration.”

Enter your bar number or client protection fund account number to sign up. The Maryland site administrator will review your registration, and let you know when you can start answering questions.

If you have any further questions, contact Jaci Jones, the Site Administrator, at jjones@probonomd.org.