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Lawyers offering free consultations at Bend Library


The Deschutes County Access to Justice Committee just launched a program called “Lawyer in the Library: Free Consultations” to help with some initial legal advice to those in need.

Local attorneys will offer free, 30-minute consultations every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for anyone who has questions on a legal matter.

Access to Justice Committee Chair David Rosen made it clear this is not a substitute for legal representation.

Consultations can be on topics including small claims, contracts, landlord-tenant issues, domestic issues, wills and other civil matters. It does not cover criminal issues.

It’s intended to help people determine if they have a legal issue and provide direction for their next steps.

“We definitely want to target the individuals that cannot afford an attorney, but also don’t qualify for legal aid,” Rosen said Wednesday evening. “We do think there’s a large swath of the community that won’t qualify for legal aid, but also cannot afford an attorney, so that’s really our target audience. But it’s open to anybody and everybody.”

Rosen said they want to provide access to lawyers, documents and general information. A family law attorney with Juniper Family Law, Caroline Ponzini, who was at the consultation, said she’s doing this because many studies have shown about 70 percent of people represent themselves on family issues in court.

“As a family law practitioner, I see a lot of those folks, but it could just be on a limited basis,” Ponzini said .”So our goal is, and the importance I see, is to be able to reach those people in a way that’s helpful to them and meeting them where they are with their needs.”

Ponzini also said these consultations allow new or pro-bono attorneys to help people and make connections in the legal community.

Rosen said the Access to Justice Committee formed a joint partnership with the Deschutes Public Library to make the program happen.

The consultations are on a first-come, first-served basis, with four slots available.

Bend resident Sara Joshel was the first participant who spoke with an attorney at Wednesday’s initial session.

She said having the opportunity to speak to an attorney about any topic is extremely beneficial. She also said the lawyers were not intimidating and were easy to talk to.

“Having the initial consultation is key, because then you don’t have much of an investment to find out whether or not you have an issue to pursue,” Joshel said. “What was beneficial about these attorneys is they may not specialize in the law for which a person asks a question, but they can guide them in the right direction.”

If you would like to learn more about these consultations, visit the Deschutes Public Library Website at

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