LiveHelp is an online, real-time chat service, that directs users towards relevant self-help materials, legal assistance organizations and court information for New Yorkers. Thousands of unrepresented New Yorkers come to the LawHelp/NY website looking for help with legal problems that require either a court or administrative hearing experience. They often feel overwhelmed and frightened about what will happen. LiveHelp connects these visitors with trained volunteers who can point the way towards resources written in plain language about their legal problem and/or help them identify a free legal aid organization for representation or more in-depth advice. The volunteers enjoy a simple, straightforward opportunity to help people in crisis, while also learning about a wide range of common legal problems.
The LiveHelp service has made a significant impact on visitors’ access to potentially life-changing legal resources. In 2010, its first year of operation, LiveHelp recruited approximately 50 volunteers, over two semesters and one summer, to serve as operators. In 2011, LiveHelp recruited 88 volunteers over two semesters. The increase in volunteer help meant that LiveHelp was available with 2-3 volunteers, Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm and Saturdays, 9am-6pm. In 2010, operators conducted 3,530 chats, and 186 of those were in Spanish. This was made possible only through the help of law students and attorneys contributing their pro bono hours to LiveHelp. In 2011 operators conducted 4,685 chats in English and 215 chats in Spanish. In 2012 we have already recruited 41 volunteers.
So, if you are dealing with a legal issue and don’t know where to turn to, remember you are not alone, there are LiveHelp operators ready to assist you.