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Washington Co. lawyers to offer free legal advice on Law Day

April 28, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Legal advice is something just about everyone will need at some point during their lifetime, and residents of Washington County and surrounding areas will have the chance to get some help for free on Wednesday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michele F. Hansen said May 1 has been nationally known as Law Day since the 1950s.

“At that time, we were in the Cold War situation. So President Eisenhower decided that we in the United States would have a counter to their Labor Day,” Hansen said. “It is a collaboration of lawyers throughout the United States to focus on law.”

Through a partnership with Legal Aid Bureau Inc., the Washington County Bar Association will recognize the day by offering two pro bono clinics in Hagerstown. Numerous attorneys are volunteering their time to answer questions and offer help with legal matters.

Katie Cox, a paralegal with Legal Aid and one of the organizers of the event, said it’s the second time free clinics are being offered in Hagerstown for Law Day, noting that about 145 people took advantage of the first event in July 2012.

“It was great,” Cox said. “We didn’t know what to expect because it was the first time we had done one (in Hagerstown). These pro bono days are a great way to try to help a lot of people at once.”

Focusing on completing advance directives and living wills, the first clinic runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Washington County Commission on Aging, 140 W. Franklin St.

Hansen said there will be at least three volunteer attorneys on hand during the first clinic.

“An attorney certainly doesn’t necessarily have to prepare (advance directive documents), but this is an opportunity for our citizens to actually have an attorney help them with these matters,” she said.

The second clinic, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Social Services, 122 N. Potomac St., will focus on a broader range of topics.

Free consultations will be offered in the following areas: family law, divorce, custody, landlord/tenant, wills and advance directives, bankruptcy, debt collection, workers’ compensation, personal injury, foreclosure, business law, employment, real estate, Social Security, disability, consumer, immigration, criminal expungements, governmental benefits, criminal and serious traffic tickets, as well as other motor vehicle issues.

“The need for legal services, affordable legal services, far outweigh the resources available to people,” Cox said. “A lot of low-income people cannot afford expensive retainers.”

There is no charge to attend either clinic and registration is not required, although organizers do ask that participants bring relevant documents for their consultations.

Last-minute preparations for the event were finalized earlier this month. Organizers are hoping for an even bigger turnout for their second event, with two locations and about 40 or more volunteers  — including more than 20 attorneys — ready to help.

“We’re hoping to help just as many, if not more people, this year,” Cox said.

If you go ...
What: Law Day pro bono clinics
When: Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Washington County Commission on Aging, 140 W. Franklin St., fourth floor (1 to 3 p.m.); Washington County Department of Social Services, 122 N. Potomac St. (4 to 7 p.m.)
For information: Call 301-694-7414 or send an email to nshore@mdlab.org

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