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Front Page - Friday, March 12, 2021

American Bar Association names Baker Donelson an ABA Free Legal Answers leader

Baker Donelson is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers 2020 Pro Bono Leader Award. The ABA selected the firm in recognition of its contribution to the virtual legal advice clinic at abafreelegalanswers.org.

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents this annual recognition to attorneys, law firms, corporate law departments and other organizations that have provided “extraordinary pro bono services” through the ABA Free Legal Answers website, reports Baker Donelson in a news release.

In 2020, Baker Donelson attorneys answered more legal questions on Free Legal Answers than any other law firm or legal group, responding to 1,155 questions on the sites for Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee, the firm notes.

The Free Legal Answers site, which Baker Donelson developed a decade ago, has been licensed as a free service for low-income clients in 43 states.

Nearly 9,000 volunteer lawyers have answered more than 145,000 pro bono legal questions through the site. Similar software has been licensed to pro bono agencies in the Virgin Islands, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Ashley Gibson, pro bono committee chair for Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office, says the firm is honored to receive recognition from the ABA and is especially proud of Dick Gossett, who has answered more than 2,000 questions on the Tennessee site.

“We hope his example serves as an inspiration for other legal professionals to consider utilizing the Free Legal Answers platform to answer pro bono legal questions for those in dire need of free legal assistance,” Gibson says. “Baker Donelson remains strongly committed to the platform’s mission of narrowing the justice gap by offering access to legal advice to people online who otherwise have very limited or no options for legal representation.”

Samuel Bowman, Baker Donelson’s pro bono shareholder adds, “From our involvement in the creation and development of the original platform, to the vision and leadership of our own Buck Lewis in spearheading this as a national tool, to our many lawyers who continue to volunteer their time, Baker Donelson has been committed to this online resource.

“We look forward to continuing to support the mission of legal access that ABA Free Legal Answers is designed to achieve.”

Baker Donelson’s attorneys provide a variety of counsel to many underserved populations that have had no options for legal representation, the firm says in the release.

Its efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, providing corporate legal services to nonprofit organizations, collaborating with clients to address specific community needs and more.

Also, Baker Donelson has contributed to efforts such as expanding the Homeless Experience Legal Protection program across the Southeast, creating courts dedicated to handling minor legal matters common among the homeless, assisting persons of limited means with obtaining driver’s licenses and spearheading and organizing volunteer lawyer programs across its footprint, the firm details.

In addition, Baker Donelson was one of the first law firms in the Southeast to create a pro bono committee and designate a full-time pro bono shareholder.

The firm also designates pro bono committee office chairs in most of its 21 offices. These chairs address local needs while coordinating with the firm’s pro bono shareholder for global pro bono initiatives.

Source: Baker Donelson