prof. janto with computer graphic

Public Service & Legal Research Combine

April 5, 2021

Students partner with Free Legal Answers program

Launched in 2016 as an initiative of the Virginia State Bar in partnership with the American Bar Association, Virginia Free Legal Answers is a virtual clinic that allows Virginians to connect with volunteer attorneys for advice on specific civil legal matters. Since its launch, Richmond Law students from Professor Joyce Manna Janto’s Advanced Legal Research Class have supported the program’s training session.

The concept of is a simple one: people can log-on to the site and ask a specific question about a civil legal issue. Volunteer attorneys review the submissions and can respond directly to the inquiry, on their own time, through a secure portal. “It’s limited scope representation,” said Janto. “You’re answering a discrete question for someone.”

In training sessions for the pro bono lawyers, students gain experience in researching solutions to legal issues, while also learning more about access to justice. “This partnership brings law students and active pro bono volunteers together to network, discuss the importance of service, and problem solve,” said Crista Gantz, Director of Access to Legal Services for the Virginia State Bar. “Students learn that attorneys play a unique and critical role in delivering the promise of equal justice. A strong pro bono culture begins in law school and Richmond Law is certainly a champion of that cause. The students who participate in this training program will come out of law school knowing that they can use their law degree to give back in a way that is comfortable and convenient, even as they navigate the challenges of practice as a newly licensed attorney,” she added.

“The students are actually participating in answering real legal questions from people in Virginia with some very serious legal problems,” said Janto. “It’s a good learning experience for the students, and a great thing that the Bar is doing for people in Virginia.”