The average cost to consult a lawyer and get advice is unaffordable for many; and that’s only for advice. Proceeding with court action or any other option, could run you in the thousands. Today, however, some attorneys took the time out to give out free advice. This was possible as the Bar association of Belize held a free legal clinic at the Battlefield Park in Belize City. About ten attorneys were available to anyone who needed direction on any legal matters they may have. Advice ranged from family law to criminal defense; from immigration matters to labor. Attorney Jose Alpuche, Treasurer of the Bar Association says it has been a nationwide initiative.
Jose Alpuche Attorney: “Basically we invite our members to come out and we offer free legal consultations for the public. It has been going on all over the country, this is the last one. We have been to Dangriga, we were at Toledo first and we have caught all the districts, we have been to Cayo and now we are here in Belize. I spoke to someone regarding the immigration status of her parent this morning and just gave them some advice in relation to that. I spoke to someone involving a dispute he had with his employer and gave him some advice. Some people have some issues that would be quite involving which would involve litigation and so on which we are not equipped to say well alright we will take on this case and we will take it on through the country for you. Some of the Attorney’s are free to take the matter further if they would like: write a few letters, take some phone calls if they would like to take up the case and go to court, they could arrange that as well but we are not commiting to that in the legal aid clinic so we are not telling anyone to come here and you will have a lawyer that will take your case through all the stages but we will offer advice and point you in the right direction and let you know what the next steps are and what we do here and now. It’s a part of our objectives as the association to provide some services to the public and this is just a part of our I would say a corporate citizenship in just giving back to the society and that’s our motivation for doing it.”
Alpuche says that, while many attorneys offer free consultations, the free clinics saved those who took advantage of the service anywhere between fifty to a hundred dollars. He adds that the Bar Association hopes to provide the clinics on an annual basis