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Alaska Legal Services officers online help

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Alaska Legal Services Corp. has launched a legal aid Web site, giving advice for filing a Medicare appeal in Spanish, evicting a bad tenant and writing a will if you're gay.

The site is tailored to Alaskans and debuted this month with help from a $75,000 grant from The Legal Services Corp., a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit created by Congress.

''Our goal is to increase access to the civil justice system,'' said Beth Heuer, administrative and technology coordinator at Alaska Legal Services.

The group provides free legal assistance to low-income Alaskans.

''Our site is free to the public, requires no membership, collects no information from users and is totally noncommercial,'' she said.

Alaska Legal Services has 27 attorneys in eight offices across the state. The lawyers focus on a few priority issues, such as denial of welfare benefits and landlord-tenant issues.

The Web site, a year in the making, addresses legal issues that clients have inquired about. AlaskaLawHelp.org provides information on how the legal system works, consumer issues, disability law, domestic violence, employment, family law, health law, housing, public benefits and seniors issues.

Links to forms, such as a domestic violence protection order, are also available.

Heuer said much of the information is available on the Internet, just not in one place.

''We know that frequently people who have legal questions will spend hours calling various organizations, or searching multiple Web sites, without ever finding the information or getting the answers for which they are looking,'' Heuer said.

''Users (of AlaskaLawHelp.org) can search for self-help information by topic. They can enter their ZIP code or region of the state and find a list of free or low-cost legal providers.

The Disability Law Center of Alaska, The Alaska Bar Association and the Alaska Pro Bono Program Inc. are among the organizations that helped with the site.

Heuer said 35 states have similar projects in development, and the goal is to have legal aid Web sites in all 50 states.

On the Net: www.AlaskaLawHelp.org



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