New Website Provides Ohioans with Free Legal Information

Ohio Legal Help (www.ohiolegalhelp.org), a website created to help all Ohioans access the civil justice system by providing free information on common legal issues, court and other legal forms and referrals to legal aid and bar association referral programs, formally launched today.

Ohio Legal Help provides plain language legal help information, interactive self-help tools and connections to local legal and community resources to help Ohioans resolve their legal issues. All content is reviewed by lawyers, to ensure the website is easy to understand, action-oriented and accurate.

“The Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice recommended in 2015 that Ohio develop a statewide website that provides free and accurate legal information and standardized forms,” said Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Ohio Legal Help is that website and will increase access to justice for all Ohioans.”

“Following from the recommendation of the Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice, a steering committee of judges, private lawyers, legal aid lawyers, librarians, clerks of court and domestic violence advocates representing various Ohio stakeholder organizations was convened to develop a website for Ohioans who needed legal information,” said David Kutik, Ohio Legal Help board president. “This comprehensive process, which resulted in the creation of the Ohio Legal Help website, has ensured that Ohio Legal Help will meet the diverse needs of potential users.”

To lay the groundwork for Ohio Legal Help, the steering committee commissioned a survey of potential users. Eight hundred Ohioans responded to the survey. Half of the respondents made less than $30,000 per year. The survey showed that costs and confusion of dealing with legal issues were most frequently cited as barriers to accessing the legal system. Sixty one percent of survey respondents believed that they needed more legal education and 68 percent strongly supported a legal access portal website.

Ohio Legal Help addresses these concerns with straightforward legal information that helps Ohioans resolve legal problems in common, critical legal areas, such as housing, family, consumer and income maintenance. The website’s mobile-first design will meet users where they are, and the tailored, personalized approach will ensure that users only receive information and referrals specific to their individual needs.

“By providing free assistance addressing some common legal issues, Ohio Legal Help will allow more Ohioans to advocate for themselves in the civil justice system,” said Kate McGarvey, executive director of the Ohio State Legal Services Association, the umbrella organization that includes the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. “More help is needed because funding constraints prevent legal aids from serving everyone seeking our help.”

Ohio Legal Help is expected to attract more than 300,000 users in its first year. The information available on Ohio Legal Help is free. Ohioans can visit the site at www.ohiolegalhelp.org.

About Ohio Legal Help

Funded and developed through supporters including the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Foundation, and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, and developed by stakeholders including the Ohio Judicial Conference, the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids, the Consortium of Ohio County Law Libraries, the Ohio Library Council and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Ohio Legal Help leverages online innovation to improve justice and fairness for all Ohioans. Ohio Legal Help removes barriers to the law so that Ohioans can understand their legal options, make informed decisions and connect to local legal and community resources.