Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Hampshire County Bar Association offers free legal advice to callers Wednesday

NORTHAMPTON — Local lawyers will staff a phone bank Wednesday to offer free legal advice to callers.

“Dial-A-Lawyer is consistent with our mission of serving our community,” said Rebecca J. Ryan, executive director of the Hampshire County Bar Association. “We are very innovative, and we are trying to outreach into the community.”

Typically, the association’s lawyer referral service does not provide legal advice, instead connecting clients with lawyers who specialize in the field of law relevant to their issue.

But from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, advice will be given freely — and for free — through Dial-A-Lawyer, an outreach initiative launched this year.

“We like to be busy,” said James B. Winston, one of the half-dozen lawyers who will be answering calls. “We want to have one call after another, that’s our goal.”

Participating lawyers will be using four phone lines, so organizers recommend callers try again if they get a busy signal.

Organizers believe the effort meets a vital public need.

“Half of the time people have no idea who to talk to,” said John Drake, chairman of the Dial-A-Lawyer committee. “Our goal is to help them on the phone and send them on their way. Or to connect them with someone who can, without having to rely on the ads posted on Yellow Pages.”

Committee member Seunghee Cha highlighted the convenience the service provides. “We have attorneys who specialize in pretty much every area of the legal spectrum,” she said. “People can just pick up the phone from the privacy of their home — it happens right after regular work hours — and it’s free.”

The Hampshire County Bar Association is made up of nearly 300 lawyers with practices in western Massachusetts.

Callers can get the free legal advice by calling the bar association office at 586-8729.

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