CHARLESTON - Legal Aid of West Virginia has launched a new Web site aimed at helping residents of the state get off on the right legal foot.
The Web site -- www.lawv.net -- offers free legal information and a wide range of resources for West Virginians. Bruce Perrone, the legal content coordinator, said the site provides immediate access to information most people will be able to understand.
"There are thousands of people who live far away from our offices and can't get there," he said. "This is a way for us to give information to people we wouldn't be able to see otherwise."
Legal Aid of West Virginia provides free advocacy services to any West Virginian. The site provides a place for people to start if they need guidance with a legal problem.
Currently, there are 11 offices around the state, and less than 40 lawyers to meet the needs of all the people who might need legal help.
Adrienne Worthy, executive director of Legal Aid of West Virginia, said the organization helps 315,000 low-income West Virginians. She said meeting the needs of everyone can be difficult.
"We really don't have the resources to help everybody who might need help," she said, hence the need for the Web site.
It is targeted to two groups of people -- clients and anyone with a legal problem. Worthy said the site does not substitute for a lawyer but is a good place to start if someone needs help with a legal problem or a link to a service.
Worthy said there is a place where visitors to the site can note if they did not find something they were interested in, but no specific legal questions will be answered. There is also a searchable database with links to more than 500 "helpful organizations" in West Virginia. Organizations can be found by county, by zip code, by city or by a keyword search.
Perrone said he thinks one of the strong points to the site is it provides a lot of information in a plain language. He said he hopes people will use the site to find some understanding for themselves, and take that information and apply it, to avoid future problems.
Also, Perrone said visitors to the site should check back often, as it will be expanding all the time.
"We'll be adding new material and revising old material," he said. "It is an ever-growing and dynamic site."
The site was developed using a grant from the federal Legal Services Corporation in Washington, D.C.