Local attorneys offer free legal help on MLK Day

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For 10 years attorneys in Anchorage, Palmer, Juneau, and Fairbanks have donated their services on Martin Luther King Day to help their communities with civil law issues.

Many of the attendees wouldn't have been able to get legal help without this day.

"It's good to give back to the community I know there are some people that can't afford attorneys," said Gary Stapp a general practice attorney.

The Free Legal Help Day has given more than 3,500 people over a half a million dollars in free legal advice. Monday 26 attorneys helped 154 clients, two thirds of the cases where about family law.

The attorneys helped people with paperwork and advised them on legal issues.

"About 80% of adults who need legal help don't know where to get it or don't know that their issue is a legal issue," said Brent Bennett, presidents of the Alaska Bar Association.

Bennett said this event is symbolic of what Doctor King stood for, by giving people access to an attorney who may not otherwise be able to afford one.

"We honor Doctor King's message of promoting love and healing in the community," said Bennett.

Senator Dan Sullivan stopped by the JP Jones Center to pass out donuts and show his support.

He spoke about how MLK Day and this event fit so well.

"They tie together two really important issues, the issue of equality for all Americans that Doctor Martin Luther King so much represented for our country, but also one way to achieve that is to make sure people have legal representation," said Sullivan.

Sullivan said that having a service like this improves equal access to legal help including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who otherwise would not have representation.

Raul Calvillo who helped co-organize the event said that some people told him they have been waiting all year for this day.

While at the MLK Day free legal help event, we asked Senator Sullivan for his thoughts on the Government Shutdown.

Sullivan referenced legislation he co-sponsored to pay employees that are currently working without pay during the stoppage.

"I don't think it's very American to have someone work and not get paid, so we're trying to move that bill as well, but look, the whole thing needs to be a compromise, from all different sides, but it's gotta include border security which I think is a reasonable request from the President," said Sullivan.