Local bar association offers free legal clinic



Local attorney Bill Burns is president of the Blount County Bar Association, which will be hosting a free legal clinic in January.

Local attorney Bill Burns is president of the Blount County Bar Association, which will be hosting a free legal clinic in January.

The Blount County Bar Association will be sponsoring a free legal clinic on Jan. 24 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. in the district courtroom located in the Blount County Courthouse. This marks the third year for this event, but Blount County Bar Association president and local attorney Bill Burns says this time they are taking a new approach.

“There is a completely different organizational level,” he said. “Every time we’ve learned a little bit, and I think this is gearing up to be the best one.”

Legal Services Alabama (LSA) will partner with the Blount County Bar Association and serve as the administration by scheduling appointments and prescreening all who wish to participate in the clinic to determine if they qualify for free legal services.

According to the 2007 – 2011 Blount County census, more than 7900 people were living in poverty, and a 2009 study stated nearly three quarters of lawyers in the United States reported doing pro bono work, and the State Bar Association encourages pro bono work.

However, Burns says many citizens have unmet legal needs because they have questions and don’t know who to ask or how to ask. This clinic is a pathway for people who have questions and are looking for answers.

Burns expects the predominant subjects to be domestic relations, child custody, child support, estate planning, and powers of attorney, but any law-related questions are welcomed.

“We recognize there are a lot of people in Blount County that need help, and there are no limits on what we will or will not cover,” Burns said.

Burns says local lawyers have been great about getting involved in the event. Out of the approximately 26 lawyers in the county, 15 of them have already committed to the project.

“The Bar Association tries to do as much charitable work as possible and just recently we bought presents for four children at the Hope House,” Burns said. “We try to do as much in the community as we can.”

Anyone interested in attending the clinic is encouraged to set an appointment by Jan. 19; however, there is no scheduling due date. To schedule an appointment, contact the LSA call center, toll free, at 866- 456-3959 or the LSA Birmingham office at either 800-819-7685 or 205-328-3540.