Free Legal Answers is an online platform where people on low incomes can describe a legal problem or ask a legal question and receive pro bono legal advice from a dedicate group of volunteer lawyers. The website enables access to initial or one-off legal advice, while providing pro bono opportunities for solicitors in a convenient way.
Gabrielle Samuels, a finance lawyer with over 30 years post qualifying experience in corporate practice, shares her experience of volunteering with Free Legal Answers, providing insight into the benefits of the service from both the perspective of those in need and the volunteer lawyers.
What motivated you to volunteer with Free Legal Answers?
For many years, I focussed my community contributions on non-legal assignments, out of an abundance of concern that my expertise didn’t dovetail well with most pro bono work. Since realising that my legal skills and expertise can in fact be readily transferred, I have aimed to take up as many pro bono opportunities as possible and FLA has been an excellent way to pick up discreet pro bono assignments with a low level of time commitment required for any given query.
What have you enjoyed the most about volunteering with Free Legal Answers?
I really enjoyed the variety of queries that I was able to help with. I have answered questions on money claims, negligence, contract disputes, road traffic accidents, copyright, consumer rights, defamation and more. The service provides clients with advice which helps them to move forward, without providing long-term representation, and it is very satisfying to be able to achieve that.
What is the key benefit you have experienced from volunteering with Free Legal Answers?
The biggest FLA benefit for me has been the sense of reward that answering questions has brought, coupled with the expansion of my own knowledge base. I enjoyed building out my own technical experience; furthermore, I have enhanced my skills at working with a non-corporate client base. Some of my clients have had difficulty in articulating their legal problems and part of my work has been to help them in this regard.
Would you recommend volunteering with Free Legal Answers to other lawyers?
I would certainly recommend volunteering with FLA. The FLA cases that I’ve enjoyed the most are those where I’ve been able to put someone’s mind at ease definitively. When you have a free hour, just browse through the questions. It’s up to you as to what you take on and very often there will be something that you know you can help with. Occasionally, your response might draw out further queries which drift into matters beyond your expertise. At that point, you can simply let the client know that they can repost that part of the question, as another lawyer may be able to assist.
If you are a qualified solicitor and would like to volunteer through Free Legal Answers, you register directly on the platform. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about, email our digital team.