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August 2018 President's Message

You Can Be A Superhero

By Kimberly Hays

Who is your favorite superhero? I find it a challenge to select just one: Superman, Batman, Supergirl, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Avengers or the Incredibles. A superhero is defined as “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; alsoan exceptionally skillful or successful person.”1

Based on this definition, all attorneys have earned the title of superhero. As attorneys, we are exceptionally skillful based on our knowledge of the law. When is the last time you put on your “superhero” cape or costume? The OBA is here to help! You can proudly claim your superhero status by registering as a volunteer attorney for Oklahoma Free Legal Answers.

The Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, American Bar Association and the OBA have joined forces to offer an interactive website to provide free legal information to needy Oklahoma citizens. The best news for your new superhero status is that you can help fellow Oklahomans without leaving your office, and you remain anonymous (always important for a superhero). Register online as a volunteer attorney, aka superhero, by going to Oklahoma.freelegalanswers.org and clicking on Volunteer Attorney Registration. It’s really easy.

Here is how it works. Qualifying Oklahomans post civil legal questions on the website and receive basic legal information and advice from approved volunteer attorneys. All attorney volunteers are covered by a professional liability insurance policy purchased by the ABA. You select the areas of law where you can exercise your superpowers (answering a legal question). You choose to accept only the questions for which you feel comfortable providing help and then you have 24 hours to post an answer. Most attorneys compose a response in less than half an hour.

In Oklahoma a large percentage of the population has unmet legal needs because they are unable to find or afford legal assistance. Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma must turn away more than 50 percent of those who qualify for its services. As a result, many low-income Oklahomans face an impossible choice – try to represent themselves or simply walk away from the relief and justice to which they would otherwise be entitled. As attorneys, we have the exceptional skills to help our fellow Oklahomans. Thank you to the 99 Oklahoma superheroes who have already registered and participated in Oklahoma Free Legal Answers!

During the month of May, 1,263 questions were submitted with 35 percent in the category of family/divorce/custody, 13 percent in the category of landlord/tenant and other categories included wills/inheritance, debts, bankruptcy, personal injury, contracts, employment/ labor law and many other areas of law. Oklahoma Free Legal Answers offers all attorneys the opportunity to flex those legal superhero muscles!

I believe we are blessed to have the opportunity to practice law, and we should give back to our community and state by helping those who are less fortunate. Let’s double the number of the current volunteer attorneys in the next 30 days! I challenge you to register TODAY as a volunteer. Next, you can order your new superhero costume – hopefully, it is eligible for Amazon Prime – and then start answering legal questions. By giving just a little of your time, you will be offering Oklahomans a positive superhero image of our legal profession.

1. Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 2 July 2018.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 89 pg. 4 (August 2018)