CHARLESTON - The West Virginia State Bar and Legal Aid of West Virginia announced this month the launch of a collaborative effort that will provide legal information and services to state residents.

While the Lawyer Information Service, as they are calling it, does not guarantee legal representation, it does offer the opportunity to at least speak with a lawyer and provide the caller with some legal information.

The service will be staffed with volunteer attorneys from local law firms from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. each Tuesday. The public also may call the emergency legal help line at 1-800-642-3617.

Cathy Wallace, director of the Access to Legal Aid Services Program of Legal Aid of West Virginia, has worked hard in bringing the program to fruition.

"Despite our best efforts, Legal Aid simply cannot provide services to everyone who needs them," she said. "The Lawyer Information Service provides one more way, through the help of volunteers, that we can help desperate people in need."

The larger firms are being asked to sponsor the program each month, and provide attorneys.

Organizers expect the program to go statewide next year.

"As attorneys, we know that there are thousands of West Virginians who are unable to afford private counsel," said Stuart McMillan, chairman of the program's committee of the State Bar and a member of the State Bar Board of Governors.

"We also know that as attorneys, we have a responsibility to protect the less fortunate.

"I urge every attorney across the state to commit one Tuesday evening to this program. In one evening, you may touch many lives."

So far, Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, LLP, will staff the service this month. Steptoe & Johnson will staff the service in September. Kay Casto & Chaney has volunteered for October.

To volunteer or for more information on the service, contact Wallace at 1-866-255-4370, extension 2129.

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