Free legal program hears different type of calls from large area of state
More than 25 years after its inception, a Mesa County Bar Association program that allows people to discuss questions with an attorney for free is still going strong.
But the scope of people and the kinds of issues they raise during Call-A-Lawyer Night are broadening, and operators of the program think it could be because of the recession.
Call-A-Lawyer, held the third Thursday of every other month, gives residents a two-hour forum in which they can anonymously call an attorney and receive legal advice at no charge to them.
A panel of six lawyers who practice in a variety of legal disciplines offer help and take roughly 75 calls each time.
Call-A-Lawyer coordinator Angela Luedtke said the attorneys remain anonymous and will not offer specific referrals.
While anyone, regardless of income level, can take advantage of the service, Luedtke said it used to be that the majority of the calls came from low-income residents with questions about divorce and custody cases.
Now, she said, middle-income residents who may not be able to afford an attorney phone in about issues ranging from wills and estate planning to consumer contracts.
During the last call-in night in May, 40 percent of the calls dealt with contract disputes and estate planning, compared to the 30 percent that addressed domestic cases.
“We’re just seeing a different tenor of calls,” Luedtke said.
She also noted that even though the service is put together by Mesa County lawyers volunteering their time, it’s reaching people outside the Grand Valley.
She said attorneys have received calls stretching from Durango to Craig, as people reach out to the only program of its kind west of Denver.
“I’m proud of our bar association that we can field a program such as this,” she said.