As fallout from the recession lingers, legal problems from foreclosure to divorce continue to haunt low-income Floridians just as the resources of legal aid organizations dwindle, which is why volunteer efforts will become more innovative than ever during Celebrate Pro Bono Week, Oct. 20-26.
Through a new outreach effort, lawyers in the St. Petersburg area will volunteer their time in local libraries educating librarians about free, online access to legal resources available to Floridians. They will educate staff on how to access those resources to help patrons meet their legal needs.
Lawyers will also talk directly with library patrons about free legal resources, how to find and choose a lawyer, tips for going it alone in court, and why access to justice is important to local communities. These events are free and open to the public in nine designated libraries in southern Pinellas County. To find out the dates and times of a participating library, call 582-7480.
The Florida Lawyers in Libraries program is part of a statewide effort involving legal aid organizations and public libraries throughout the state of Florida and is supported by Florida Legal Services, Inc., The Florida Bar Foundation, One Campaign, Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of The Florida Bar, Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association, Florida Library Association, and the Division of Library and Information Services of the State of Florida, and Community Law Program, Inc.
“Access to justice is a fundamental right we have as citizens of Florida,” said Judge William Van Nortwick, chair of The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, “but for many people, the inability to access legal information and assistance can lead to negative results for themselves, their families, and their communities. The Florida Lawyers in Libraries program will make is easier for Florida residents to find the legal resources they need.”