If you’re looking for some free legal advice, you should have gone to your neighborhood library. Not to check out a book, but to check in with an attorney one on one. Shawn Cunningham reports on a unique program that’s giving everyone access to the scales of justice.
Attorney Aaron Kouhoupt (KOO-OP) isn’t researching any historic legal precedents in the book coves of the Turner Memorial Library. His law cases are on hold for the day. Aaron is giving his full attention to anyone who stops into the library with a legal matter in mind. Its part of a statewide partnership called Lawyers in Libraries.
“We wanna be able to provide people that maybe don’t have access to an attorney or don’t have the ability to afford an attorney or know where to find the resources to get legal assistance we want to be able to give the ability to find those places and access to legal help,” says Kouhoupt.
“We have a lot of patrons who come in who are looking for information on legal issues and of course as librarians we’re not qualified to dispense any advice per se but we will direct people to the best resources available and there’s really no better resource than having an actual attorney in the library,” adds Lisa Neal Shaw, a Reference Librarian for the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle.
In addition to legal advice one on one lawyers are also able to guide people to a number of legal resources online. Shaw says the lawyers in library program has gotten positive feedback from the community.
Shaw says “At first there’s the no really I can come talk to a lawyer and its not gonna cost me anything” people are very excited by the idea I think sometimes the idea of approaching somebody for legal help can seem very daunting, very expensive, very intimidated and this helps to make it much more accessible.”
“Pine Tree Legal offers a lot of good services and there’s a variety of other programs available in the state that can offer some help,” adds Kouhoupt
The Lawyers in the Library program is an initiative coinciding with May1st which is National Law Day.