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Illinois Free Legal Answers

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Illinois Free Legal Answers is a secure website where low-income Illinoisans can ask a lawyer for help with a civil legal issue. Volunteer lawyers then log onto the site at their convenience and answer questions waiting in the queue. It is a virtual walk-in legal clinic.

A project of the American Bar Association, Free Legal Answers was created to increase access to advice and information about non-criminal legal matters for those who cannot afford legal assistance. It is now active in 41 jurisdictions within the United States, including Illinois. Get started today at Illinois Free Legal Answers.

How does Free Legal Answers work?

Clients who meet financial eligibility requirements ask a question online. Volunteer attorneys can then see the questions, choose ones they feel qualified to answer and submit a response. While PILI will be able to see who answered questions, attorneys will remain anonymous to clients and are not expected to work on the case further.

How do I ask a question?

If you are a self-represented litigant involved in a civil (non-criminal) case in Illinois who is in need of legal assistance and would like to ask a question through Illinois Free Legal Answers, visit il.freelegalanswers.org.

Why is this a good pro bono opportunity?

Illinois Free Legal Answers provides a way for attorneys to volunteer their time in the way that best fits their schedule. They can choose where and when to log in and which questions to answer. Volunteer attorneys who provide brief advice and counsel via the website will be covered by professional liability insurance maintained by the ABA.

Who is eligible to ask questions on the site?

Adults who have met financial eligibility guidelines, are not currently incarcerated and are not requesting assistance with criminal law matters. Before users are allowed to request legal advice, they will be asked questions to establish eligibility.

Who can volunteer?

Any lawyer who is registered as active and authorized to practice with the ARDC, including those with house counsel status can volunteer by registering at il.freelegalanswers.org.

Additionally, those with inactive or retired status and out-of- state licensed attorneys can volunteer under Supreme Court Rule 756 by filling out the first page of the ARDC forms and sending it to volunteer@pili.org. PILI staff will then complete the second page as the sponsoring entity and submit it to the ARDC and let you know when we have a response. Response time will vary and this must be done annually.

How do I volunteer?

If you are an attorney who is interested in volunteering with Illinois Free Legal Answers, you can learn more here and start registration here. Additionally, we have provided resources to help you answer questions here. Or, you may contact us by email and one of our Managing Attorneys will respond.

Is there a specific minimum requirement to volunteer?

No, there is not. There are always questions waiting in the queue to be answered though, so we will be grateful any time you are able to log in and answer a question. Even one answer can make a difference!

Can my law firm, corporation, bar association or law school organize a group to volunteer with Illinois Free Legal Answers?

Yes! PILI already works with many law firms, corporations, bar associations and law schools in Illinois to host Illinois Free Legal Answers clinics for their volunteers. PILI can provide a training on how to use Illinois Free Legal Answers for participants. PILI can also provide a CLE program with Illinois MCLE credit for volunteers. This is also a great partnership opportunity for these groups to come together for a joint clinic. Learn more »

How is Illinois Free Legal Answers different from Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO)?

Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO)  is a website with numerous articles and resources to help self-represented litigants. In order to ask a specific legal question and get advice from a lawyer, low-income Illinoisans need to do so on Illinois Free Legal Answers, which is administered by PILI. ILAO is also an excellent resource for attorneys answering questions on Illinois Free Legal Answers. In Illinois, Illinois Free Legal Answers was initially administered by ILAO but, as of August 1, 2019, PILI took over the day-to-day operations of the site as well volunteer recruitment and support.