Many people are surprised to learn that attorneys can now provide brief advice pro bono service online at any time of day or night. Minnesota Legal Advice Online (MLAO) makes pro bono work easier than ever. One of the program’s early adopters and consistent volunteers is Jennifer Roben, a family law attorney based in the east metro who has been volunteering through MLAO since 2014. “I like that I can help a number of people in a relatively short period of time, usually around 12 at a time. Often the individual doesn’t need an attorney, they just need to remove a roadblock so they can move on in the case.” Roben likes the ease of being able to volunteer when it is convenient for her. “It’s such an easy way to help out. Over Thanksgiving I had a few spare minutes and I logged on and answered a few questions. It’s nice that it is less of a commitment than a traditional full representation pro bono case.”
Here is an example of the advice that Ms. Roben was able to provide recently:
A client from Lincoln County posted a question about changing the custody order for his children after observing behavioral problems with his oldest son who lived with the mother. Jennifer provided a link to court forms to change custody, a referral to legal aid, and a recommendation for therapy for the son. She advised that “children often tell the parent they are with at the time that they want to live with them. The court will not change custody solely based upon a child’s preference. You will need to prove that your children are endangered in order to modify an existing custody order.”
The client later responded, “Thanks for this advice. We have learned many things that go on in the other parent’s home. We do have an appointment for both children to go to therapy. I also took the advice and called legal aid and have talked with a lawyer about the things that are going on in both homes. We greatly appreciate all the help and feedback you have given us.”
Visit www.mnlegaladvice.org to register as an online pro bono attorney.