Facebook keeps people connected to their peers. Yelp keeps them in-the-know about where to spend their money. Twitter keeps them entertained with a glimpse into millions of minds. And now, LawQA can keep people informed when they find themselves in legal trouble.
Free online services have inserted themselves into our daily lives, serving as useful and reliable tools for the public. One such service is http://LawQA.com, a new website offering free and anonymous legal information from a variety of lawyers in various areas.
LawQA was founded in July of 2010 by a North Orange County attorney. In an attempt to bridge the access gap that local attorneys face with their consumers, LawQA became a place for lawyers all over the country to showcase their legal knowledge while providing a free, no-obligation service to the public.
The site serves a wide demographic, but is especially helpful for college students.
“College-aged kids… often find themselves in alcohol-related infractions, employment disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, and immigration issues,” said Ryan Heavican, the site’s content manager.
Heavican said the site is a great starting point for those who are faced with their first offense, and who might be scared and unsure of what to do next.
The website’s homepage features a single search box, along with a sidebar listing attorneys in your area. Each attorney is given a personal profile page with more information about themselves. Banner advertisements for law firms help the site remain free.
Each question is anonymous and sent directly to the inboxes of several local lawyers who specialize in different legal issues. Most questions receive more than one response from a qualified professional.
“Since we launched in July, we’ve had about 20,000 published answers from attorneys, and just under 9,000 questions,” Heavican said.
Due to the anonymous nature of the service, no students who had actual experience with the website were able to be interviewed.
“Our ultimate goal is to help consumers,” Heavican said. “Some other, similar websites do charge, but we think that’s ridiculous.”
In the Internet age of anonymity, Heavican said it’s important to know which sites to trust. LawQA aims to provide a trustworthy source of legal information for those who need it most.
It’s important to note that legally, information offered on the site is not official legal advice.
“Specific legal advice can only be given with full knowledge of all the facts and circumstances of your situation,” the website states. All questions submitted to the site are public, and visible to all visitors.