In general, our community knows that the Georgia State Bar exists and regulates the practice of law in our state. It is true that prospective lawyers must pass the Bar exam, the fitness evaluation, and be sworn in by the Georgia Supreme Court. You probably hear on occasion about the disbarment of a lawyer by the Georgia Supreme Court as well.
The Bar is truly an important resource to attorneys across the state. It provides its members many valuable benefits such as practice management support, a lawyer’s assistance program, and other law related services.
The Bar has also created the very important Legislative Program. This program serves as the liaison between the Bar and the General Assembly. Thomas Worthy of Carrollton is the current head of the State Bar’s Legislative Program. The Bar also provides a number of services to the public. These include, but are not limited to, legal aid to people who cannot afford a lawyer (this is usually in the civil law area), consumer pamphlets, detailed information on all members of the Georgia State Bar (which includes any disciplinary reports), and assistance in finding a lawyer.
Some people may qualify for free or low-cost civil legal assistance through a legal aid or pro bono program. If you have a legal problem in Georgia, visit www.GeorgiaLegalAid.org for a complete directory of civil legal assistance programs. If you do not live in Georgia and need free or low-cost legal help, visit www.LawHelp.org.
The Bar also has the Military Legal Assistance Program. This program assists service members and veterans by connecting them to State Bar members who are willing to provide free or reduced-fee legal services. Service members and veterans often have legal needs in their personal lives and specific to their military service. They also face financial issues and other civil law matters resulting from the sacrifices made in military life. Depending on eligibility, clients will be connected to a lawyer in their geographic area with expertise in their area of need.
The program helps veterans who have service-connected disability legal issues and service members who have civil, non-criminal legal needs.
While the State Bar does not itself refer members of the public to specific attorneys, the Bar has approved the Atlanta Bar Association’s lawyer referral service. This is a valuable tool for our community members who are looking for competent representation but do not know any lawyers in their area.
The Bar has some rather strong local connections too. Past State Bar presidents include Lit Glover of Newnan, Lester Tate originally from Polk County, and most recently, Ken Shigley of Douglasville.
If you need direction regarding legal issues in Georgia, the State Bar is not a bad place to start. The Bar’s website is www.gabar.org.