Wyoming News Service, Laramie, WY -- It's often called the "justice gap," affecting 50 million people across the country who can't afford legal help for civil court issues. Attorneys throughout the state are marking the first-ever National Pro Bono Celebration Week to recognize lawyers who donate their time to help those who can't afford legal fees.
And it's also a week to encourage more attorneys to help level the playing field when it comes to access to the courts. Dona Playton, with the recently-formed Wyoming Access to Justice Commission, says there are a range of court issues for people with lower-incomes.
Currently, Wyoming is one of only two states that does not have a legislative or other specific state appropriation to directly support general, civil legal aid for low-income people. That's something Playton says they're trying to change in the interest of civil rights, and as a good state investment.
The American Bar Association estimates that 80% of the legal needs of Wyoming's lower-income families are unmet. Legal experts can donate time through phone consultations, document review, or even short court appearances.