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Shreveport Ask-A-Lawyer event gives legal help to underserved

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Kate Archer Kent
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As part of the Shreveport Bar Association’s Law Week, the organization’s Pro Bono Project is hosting its three-hour Ask-A-Lawyer event Tuesday, April 30, at a Shreveport library. The goal is to offer free legal assistance to people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford an attorney. Gernine Mailhes, coordinator and staff attorney for the Shreveport Pro Bono Project, said attendees will be able to draw up important legal papers concerning end-of-life decisions.

“We have the forms already done. It’s almost like a one-stop clinic. When you leave,  you will have your living will and your medical power of attorney," Mailhes said, stressing the point that a medical power of attorney doesn't authorize someone to make financial decisions for you.

The Shreveport Pro Bono project handles about 300 cases a year – mostly involving family law. It works closely with Providence House and the Veterans Transitional Housing Program through Volunteers of America. Mailhes said the expectation in the profession is that attorneys do 50 hours of pro bono work annually. She aims to recruit more area lawyers who are willing to take on pro bono work that may be outside their usual caseload and comfort zone.

“From divorces, custody issues, evictions -- different issues you don’t realize that that economic level of people really do have a lot of legal issues," Mailhes said.

The Ask-A-Lawyer event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hollywood/ Union Library. The Shreveport Bar Association will hold a luncheon on the May 1 Law Day. The 21st annual red mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Friday at 9 a.m.