The Third Branch
Online legal advice project launched in northern Wisconsin
A new online tool providing access to legal services is available to residents in northern Wisconsin. Wisconsin Judicare has launched a website designed to provide brief legal advice via the Internet to eligible clients. The new initiative, Northern Wisconsin Legal Advice Project (NWLAP), provides the opportunity for eligible clients to submit legal questions through its website to volunteer attorneys and receive legal advice at no cost. The information is designed to help give brief and limited legal advice to low-income persons residing in the designated counties.
Clients must be low-income residents of one of the 13 counties in Wisconsin involved with this online advice project or residents of one of the 11 federally recognized Indian tribes. The participating counties are Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, and Washburn.
After providing information to determine eligibility, clients can post questions on the website. Attorneys serving on the Wisconsin Judicare panel, as well as private attorneys, volunteer to participate pro bono in this program. These attorneys will review and answer the questions. Clients can then check the system for those responses.
The new project demonstrates Wisconsin Judicare and the Tenth Judicial District's partnership and commitment to providing equal access to justice. Since May 2000, Wisconsin's Tenth Judicial District has made concerted efforts to provide more meaningful and informed access to the courts for self-represented citizens.
Chief Judge Scott R. Needham, St. Croix County Circuit Court, said he hopes the program can be replicated statewide.
"In recognizing our limited resources and increasing number of self-represented litigants, we wanted to look to new ideas and initiatives. The Tenth Judicial District Self-Representation Litigants Committee approached Judicare to partner on the initiative and serve as a pilot test site. This program will help us to expand pro bono opportunities for attorneys while improving access to legal assistance," Needham said.
Wisconsin Judicare is the civil legal service provider for 33 counties located in northern Wisconsin and 11 federally recognized Indian tribes. The new website was funded by The Legal Services Corporation and the State Bar of Wisconsin.