As one component of the State Bar's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), the Lawyer Hotline is a public service program that provides answers to basic legal questions that can be answered in just a few minutes. When a caller simply requires general legal information, the assistants make an appointment for a Hotline volunteer to call the client back.
Most Hotline questions involve landlord/tenant, small claims court, basic family law, simple wills, bankruptcy and traffic issues that attorneys can answer in several minutes during informal telephone conversations. Attorneys are not asked to discuss specific documents, court procedures other than small claims courts or topics requiring complex evaluation or research. LRIS also will provide the questions to participating attorneys ahead of time. And for public-sector volunteers, the Bar has recently arranged liability coverage through Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.
There are several different options for participating as a Hotline volunteer:
- Evening hotline at the State Bar: For two hours usually on Wednesdays, volunteers meet at the Bar Center in Madison to return client calls. The Bar also provides a light dinner. (Not currently available during COVID-19)
- Hometown hotline: These two-hour sessions are held across the state. A host attorney or firm donates office space, and area volunteers meet to return client calls. The Bar pays for telephone, food and beverage expenses.
- Law firm hotline: If a firm has two or more volunteer attorneys, the Bar brings the Hotline right to the firm either in person or by fax. Again, the Bar covers telephone and refreshment costs.
To publicize the Hotline service and promote goodwill in your community, the Bar will create and distribute press releases to your local media describing your participation in the Hotline program. Two hours is a small time commitment but for the people you help, it can provide a vital service at a time when they really need it.
If you have any questions, please contact LRIS at LRISresponse@wisbar.org.