MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – Free and low-cost legal services are now available to thousands in the Mid-South. The online portal 901 Legal Connect went live Thursday, and its goal is to streamline legal service for those who can’t afford a private attorney.

“This is the culmination of a long-held dream of mine to have a centralized intake system for people seeking legal advice,” executive director of the Memphis Bar Foundation and Association Anne Fritz said.

Every year thousands of people in the Mid-South cannot afford legal help. Many of them go to the Community Legal Center or the Memphis Area Legal Services for help.

“We had 6,000 calls and were able to help fewer than half those people,” Anne Mathes with the Community Legal Center said.

“Last year MALS had over 20,000 calls for assistance,” Cindy Ettingoff with Memphis Area Legal Services said.

Now there’s one more way to find low-cost or free legal help if you qualify. It’s called 901 legal connect. It’s an online application where you can know quickly if you qualify for the services.

By 10 a.m. Thursday, the website had been live for just two hours. “We already have five applications online seeking legal help,” Fritz said.

The Memphis Bar Foundation was able to set the website up thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Bar Association. The online application takes into account income and monthly expenses.

The project’s main goal is to be a more streamlined service.

“We sometimes refer people back and forth,” Mathes said. “They start with one [services], it’s not appropriate, it’s possible another one may be more helpful, so we want to stop that.”

It’s just for civil issues. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, both trained lawyers, were on hand for Thursday’s announcement.

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