Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 - Page 6

Executive Director’s News 6 On-Line Pro Bono Legal Assistance A new initiative is being rolled out nation-wide whereby low income persons can log on to a specific website and post legal questions on-line. Participating attorneys in that state can log on at their convenience, select a question that he or she is comfortable answering, and answer (anonymously) on-line. The person asking the question is sent an e-mail when the question is answered. The person asking the question and the attorney may choose to establish an attorney/client relationship and connect off-line, or not. The program has enjoyed much success in a number of states, and 34 other states, including Vermont, are planning to launch the program this Fall. From the lawyer’s perspective, it’s a convenient way for the lawyer to meet pro bono aspirational hours (Rule 6.1 encourages 50 hours of pro bono work per year). From the perspective of the low income person seeking legal advice, it’s a convenient way to get an answer to a legal question from a lawyer versed in the subject matter at hand. Please watch for more information as the site is prepared for launch and as we recruit participating attorneys. County Bar Legal Assistance Projects in Each County Lastly, many thanks to all the lawyers already participating in Vermont Bar Foundation-funded County Bar Legal Assistance Programs in Addison, Bennington, Franklin-Grand Isle, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor-Orange Counties. Low income litigants in landlord tenant, collections, and foreclosure cases, proposed wards in involuntary guardianship cases and defendants in child support contempt proceedings are screened over the phone by Vermont Lawline for income eligibility, and are connected with a participating attorney who is paid $60 per hour in a set 3 – 5 hour limited appearance capacity. Since the first county project’s inception, over 1200 low income persons have received legal assistance from a trained attorney, and participating attorneys who have opted to do all or a portion of the work pro bono, have contributed over 1400 pro bono hours to date. If you’re in one of the participating counties and are not yet on the list, trainings are now available on-line through the VBA Digital Library (contact the VBA so you can receive the CLE training for free). If your county bar association is not THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SUMMER 2016 yet participating but would like to, please contact VBA Legal Access Coordinator Mary Ashcroft at mashcroft@vtbar.org and she would be happy to help you with the grant application materials. This endeavor has been a great example of lawyers, the courts, judges, and VLA working together to provide low income litigants quality legal representation in their court cases. I’d like to conclude with a reminder: We hope that you can join us at the “Summer Barbecue on the Water!” party planned for Sunday, July 31st from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Button Bay State Park in Ferrisburg, to honor Bob Paolini for his twenty-plus years of service as VBA Executive Director, and to benefit the Vermont Bar Foundation. The invitation is available at www.vtbar.org and on page 25 of this Journal. Congratulations to Bob, also, on receiving an honorary law degree from the Vermont Law School at its recent commencement exercises in South Royalton. It is such a well-deserved honor! www.vtbar.org