Free legal advice will be available to area residents at Ask A Lawyer Day on Oct. 26, hosted by the Mecklenburg County Bar Young Lawyers Division.
The walk-in legal clinic has been held once a year or more for at least a decade, said Mecklenburg County Bar spokeswoman Rhea Kelley.
“We typically see 50 to 75 attendees during the day and have 15 to 20 attorneys present who volunteer their time and expertise to help community members.”
Attendee questions range from family law topics such as divorce and custodial issues to questions about wills, estates, landlords and real estate, Kelley said.
“We get a broad audience,” she said, adding the service is available to anyone, regardless of income level. “A lot of people don’t know if they should be talking to a lawyer, if they have a legal recourse. (Ask A Lawyer Day) is an easy way to sit down and say ‘This is my situation, which way should I go.’”
Jeremy Sugg, an attorney with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, has been in Charlotte nearly two years and has participated in three Ask A Lawyer days. “There’s a big need for people to have access to an attorney to answer general questions and point them in the direction of other resources they can use,” said Sugg, who is chair of the Legal Assistance Committee and organized the upcoming event.
Sugg practices law in the areas of civil litigation, defense and workers compensation defense and said that having access to attorney who can help them understand the issue or documents – and what the options are – often allows people to resolve their situation on their own.
“Unfortunately, the (legal) system has gotten so complicated, a lot of people have no idea what the system is all about and where to go for help,” he said. “But a lot of people can do it themselves if they know where to go and what to file.”
The self-serve center at the courthouse, the clerk’s office, Legal Aid and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont are among the community resources that lawyers can point individuals toward, depending on their situation, Sugg said.
As an organizer, Sugg said, he appreciates the attorneys who volunteer their time. With so many large firms in Charlotte, many attorneys only deal with corporate clients over the phone in their daily work, he said.
“They don’t really have that face to face contact with clients anymore, or the immediate benefit of knowing they’ve helped somebody in the cases they deal with,” he said.
“(Most attorneys) go to law school because you want to help people. This give you an opportunity to meet with someone on a personal level and hopefully give them some information they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.”