Oregon, and especially the Portland-metro area, is awash in lawyers talking about the law to all and sundry – for no charge. (You don’t even have to buy them lunch – how much better than that can it get?)
There are pedestrian and bicycle legal clinics, bankruptcy clinics, small business legal clinics, homebuyer clinics, patent law programs (e.g. at CubeSpace), expungment clinics, and many more.
You just need to know where to look for the announcements. Despite what you think, many lawyers are just not that good at marketing. Until some of us figure out a way to maintain a website or blog where these programs can be posted, here are some tips on how to find them. Like most things that are worthwhile, it will take some effort, but it may surely pay off in the end:
1) Find the legal association or organization that specializes in the area of law you are interested in and contact the organization or one of its members. No one knows this better than Oregon bicyclists!
2) Contact the Oregon State Bar (OSB): they may be the logical group to keep a running list of these free events, but in the meantime, they may still be able to give you some contacts.
3) Contact a Legal Aid (LASO) office. They too will know about various free legal programs.
4) Local police and sheriff’s departments frequently host landlord-tenant clinics and mediation programs.
5) If you have a neighborhood association, call the reigning Chair and ask about inviting a lawyer speaker to your meetings. If you coordinate this, you get to choose the topic – and talk to the lawyer personally yourself.
6) If you belong to any association, talk to fellow members to find out what they want to have a lawyer talk about and have someone contact the Oregon State bar (OSB) to ask for some names of local lawyers. A visit from a lawyer who know about foreclosures, investing safely, neighbor law, dog law, small business legal matters, and other subjects would attract more people to your meetings!
7) Ask your state legislator to set up a meeting in your community to talk about a particular bill that has been introduced during the current legislative session.
But remember, if you’re going to sponsor a free legal talk (rather than just attend one), don’t rely on that lawyer to advertise it. Use your own creativity to get the word out, be it through your association’s newsletter or Twitter and everything in between.