Lawyers step up to offer online advice to those with civil legal problems
NASHVILLE, Feb. 17, 2012 — More than 100 low-income Tennesseans are receiving free legal assistance every month through the OnlineTNJustice.org website, but backers of the project want to serve more.
"With one in five Tennesseans in poverty, and with most of them having access to a computer in a library, church, or other location, we are doing all we can to spread the word that Online Tennessee Justice is a great place for them to turn to when they need help with legal problems," Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis said of the project.
Lewis, a past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and member of the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission, has been a driving force in creation of OnlineTNJustice -- a joint project of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA). The site allows clients to request advice about specific civil legal issues from volunteer lawyers and get their questions answered -- all online.
Clients who have used the site have praised its ease of use and effectiveness. As one client said: "I have been trying for months to get some help and advice about my problem and could not find any. The day I heard about it I used it and it is wonderful, thanks to everyone who helps with this site. I am very grateful."
Erik Cole, who leads the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, said the focus now is on spreading the word about OnlineTNJustice.org to those in need. "Our hope," Cole said, "is that the courts, churches, social service agencies, libraries, senior centers, and others will promote the site to their clients, members and patrons."
Since the site launched in May 2011, more than 1,200 Tennesseans have been served.