KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For many, obtaining legal help is financially out of reach.
Attorneys in Knoxville are currently charging an average of $225 to $250 per hour for their services, according to Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
Legal Aid of East Tennessee and Knoxville Bar Association are offering free, in-person legal advice to veterans in East Tennessee.
The free clinic takes place every second Wednesday of the month from noon to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Office.
"As long as you're a veteran or family member of a veteran, you can come and we'll talk to you and kind of get you started," London Amburn attorney Chuck Sharrett said.
Veterans and their family members can receive legal advice on most issues. Examples include veterans benefits, contract disputes, estate planning, criminal defense, landlord or tenant issues and child support.
"I think there was a recognition that a lot of veterans may have legal questions and aren't sure where to start," Pro Bono Project Managing attorney Caitlin Torney said.
More than 800 veterans have been helped through this program since 2016.
"During COVID, we did exclusively virtual clinics to protect veterans and volunteer attorneys. We've transitioned back to an in-person model, but we are also happy to provide phone advice," Torney said.
Those unable to make it in person may call (865) 637-0484 to access the phone clinic.
Torney said attorneys volunteering for this clinic are passionate about helping area veterans.
"My dad was in the navy. He was actually was disabled and that's how he was honorably discharged based on that and that kind of seeing him go through that process, it feels really good to be able to help people," Sharrett said.
Torney also has a personal connection to this work.
"My brother was a marine, and he did a tour in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan," Torney said. "I know that him and a lot of his friends have run into legal issues, and they really like to come to a place that's friendly to veterans. A lot of our volunteers either have family members who are veterans or are veterans themselves."