Alaska Bar President Meets With Kodiak Legal Community on Access to Justice

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Jennifer Canfield/KMXT

Representatives from the Alaska Bar Association were in town last week to touch base with local legal professionals. The meetings with Kodiak’s lawyers helps the ABA understand Kodiak’s unique legal landscape. A theme during the visit was what ABA Board President Donald McClintock called "access to justice."

(ABA Visit 1 :32 sec "In the US it comes up in two contexts and we’re all familiar with it in the criminal context. There isn’t really anything comparable on the civil side. Access to justice on the civil side means if you have a legal problem- and it can be anything from you bought a bad car or you’re having a custody dispute with your spouse. We have a very legalistic society. The whole range of relationships with other people where you need a way to resolve your dispute, do you have access to an institution that will allow you to do it?")

If you’re in Kodiak- or anywhere in rural Alaska- and without the finances to afford legal representation "access to justice" might mean contacting one of the various non-profit legal organizations in Anchorage and getting assistance over the phone or by e-mail. If you are able to shop for your own lawyer, McClintock says to do your homework.

(ABA Visit 2 :30 sec "Shopping for a lawyer is like any other service. Some personalities work better with other personalities. You should interview for your counsel. Attorneys will often waive the initial consultation fee or have a flat fee. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a few attorneys and making a decision yourself because a lot of time you’re getting legal guidance, but you’re often getting judgment guidance too.")

For those attending this year’s Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage, Pro Bono Director Krista Scully says the ABA will be participating in the first-ever Elizabeth Peratrovich Legal Clinic. Volunteer lawyers will assist attendees with civil legal issues involving family law, public benefits, safe housing, consumer issues and estate planning.

(ABA Visit 3 :25 sec "There will be hour-long appointments with volunteer attorneys who will be available to provide brief services and advice on site and there will be follow up work done by Alaska Legal Services. On Friday the wills will also be done by volunteer attorneys. It’s a really important first step in people’s estate planning, especially if they’re thinking about whom they’re going to turn their shares over to and other kinds of issues attached to whatever regional corporation they’re a part of.")

However, availability is limited. Scully says people interested in participating in the clinic must reserve a spot by October 14th. You can find details on our website at KMXT.org. (EPLC@alaskabar.org)

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