2021 Summer Associates Assist with Answering Questions on ABA Free Legal Answers

By Tali K. Albukerk

This year, in response to the increasing need for pro bono legal services and the desire to instill a commitment to pro bono early on in an individual’s legal career, ABA President Patricia Lee Refo called upon law firms to involve their summer associates in answering civil legal questions from income-eligible individuals in their state through ABA Free Legal Answers (ABA FLA).

After personal experience in an ABA FLA virtual clinic as a volunteer attorney last spring, President Refo seized upon an opportunity to urge firms to pair summer associates with existing volunteer attorneys to answer as many questions as possible.

“ABA Free Legal Answers provides associates with a taste of pro bono service that will endure throughout their career. In turn, the law firm attorneys who collaborate with these young lawyers will likewise find the process rewarding,” said President Refo.

Of the firms participating in the ABA FLA Summer Associate Challenge, Koley Jessen answered the most questions with the assistance of summer associates and the following firms were the most active:

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Husch Blackwell LLP

Johnson Flodman Guenzel & Widger

Koley Jessen

Rembolt Ludtke LLP

Simon, Peragine, Smith, & Redfearn LLP

In their own words:

“Being able to participate in providing legal answers to so many members of our community was the icing on the cake to my summer clerkship experience. It was eye-opening to see the various legal issues arising in the community and the absolute necessity for charitable lawyers. I was humbled by the collaborative spirit the attorneys in our litigation department showed in preparing these answers and I hope to continue to prioritize using my legal education to support these efforts throughout my career!”----Addison Schneider, summer associate, Koley Jessen and 2L, University of Nebraska College of Law

“I had a fantastic experience answering questions for Free Legal Answers. It was incredibly rewarding to spend time finding solutions and, under the supervision of licensed attorneys, providing free legal services directly to members of the Nebraska community. In addition, the collaborative nature involved in responding to FLA questions is unique from other pro bono opportunities. I can only hope our responses gave helpful advice for individuals seeking answers to their legal questions. My experience working with FLA further reinforced why I chose to enter the legal profession in the first place: to serve the interests of others.”----John P. Barrett, summer associate, Koley Jessen and 3L, University of Wisconsin Law School

“Participating in a FLA session as a summer associate showed me the dedication to service the firm has incorporated into its culture. Under the guidance of an attorney, answering questions from FLA gave me the opportunity to practice my legal skills and participate in the firm’s commitment to giving back and providing access to the judicial system for each individual.”----Brett E. Bunnell-Battani, summer associate, Koley Jessen and 3L, Drake University Law School

“Simon, Peragine, Smith, & Redfearn, L.L.P. was proud to host the first ABA Free Legal Answers Summer Associate Challenge in Louisiana because we strongly believe in the value of pro bono and giving back to those in need across the state. Having the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and our summer associates in a meaningful way through this platform was terrific.”---- Casie Z. Davidson, partner, Simon, Peragine, Smith, & Redfearn, L.L.P.

Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org is an on-line virtual legal clinic through which income-eligible clients can post civil legal questions to be answered by pro bono attorneys from their jurisdiction. For more information on ABA Free Legal Answers, please contact the national administrator at Tali.Albukerk@americanbar.org or visit Ambar.org/FLA.