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Free legal advice available on Martin Luther King Day

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Posted: Sunday, January 9, 2011 2:43 am | Updated: 1:50 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — A collection of lawyers are offering free legal advice at the Rabinowitz Courthouse on Martin Luther King Day, which is Jan. 17.

Anyone with questions about civil cases involving three areas of the law — family law, public benefits and landlord-tenant issues — can partake.

Criminal law won’t be discussed because free legal help is already available to defendants who need it.

About a dozen lawyers had signed up to participate, and the number increased to about 20 after Alaska Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree wrote a letter Tuesday to members of the Tanana Valley Bar Association urging them to join the effort.

The lawyers are offering 15 minutes, maybe more, of their time to individuals. It’s about a $50 value.

“This is one way that lawyers can give back to Fairbanks and help their own neighbors,” said organizer Niesje Steinkruger, Senior Judge at the Rabinowitz Courthouse.

The legal services are being offered at no charge in honor of the MLK Day of Service. Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday a day of service in 1994.

The legal assistance is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

Similar legal clinics are happening elsewhere in Alaska and Outside.

“We aren’t going to be qualifying people under income guidelines,” said Paul Eaglin, one of the participating attorneys. “It’s just those who show up.”

Shelby Mathis, senior associate attorney at Borgeson and Kramer law offices, also is volunteering at the legal clinic. She said it’s a natural outreach from the public service work her firm already does.

“Our firm volunteers legal hours to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which is all family law volunteer work,” Mathis said. “For us, it is very rewarding. We’ve gotten such a great response form the people we have helped.”

Amy Tallerico, associate attorney at the law firm of Zimmerman & Wallace and another organizer of the event, said people seeking the legal advice will be asked to sign an intake sheet and state their question.

“It’s a short consult, but it should help people who are representing themselves pro se get on the right path,” she said.

The event is sponsored by the Alaska Court System, the Tanana Valley Bar Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7544.

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