Legal services can be expensive, but for some issues, there may be free legal aid available. But how do you find free legal aid?
Here's a general overview about how to qualify for free legal aid and where to find it:
What Does 'Free Legal Aid' Mean?
When you think of "free legal aid," most people think of legal aid organizations that provide free services for those who are unable to afford a private lawyer. The downside is that because of limited funding, legal aid services can only take on a few select cases, such as landlord/tenant disputes, denial of unemployment benefits, and consumer credit issues.
However, each organization is different and may be able to help with other legal issues. Keep in mind that you may need to prove that you make less than a certain amount of money before a legal aid group will help you.
Aside from legal aid organizations, you may also be able to receive free legal aid from:
- Your local court system's "Self-Help" centers. These are often staffed by attorneys who can help you complete your legal paperwork; they will not, however, represent you in court.
- Law school clinics. Many law schools offer free clinics to give students a chance to practice what they've learned in class. But as with legal aid groups, there may be low-income or other requirements.
- Private attorneys. Many lawyers offer free consultations, and some may even agree to take your case for free if they're so inclined. Head to FindLaw's Lawyer Directory to find an experienced attorney by practice area and location.
Where to Find Free Legal Services
There are many ways to find out where free legal aid is being offered near you. For example, FindLaw's State Laws section links you to free legal aid resources for 100 metro areas (listed under their state).
Some examples of free legal aid services listed in our metro-area pages include:
- Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, California. This organization can help low-income people in need of immigration, housing, and consumer law help. There's also the Family Violence Law Center where victims of domestic violence can go for free assistance with restraining orders and other matters related to abuse.
- Several legal aid services in Fort Worth, Texas. For example, Legal Hotline for Texans has volunteer attorneys who are available to answer basic legal questions for Texas residents 60 years or older.
- The Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center in Cleveland, Ohio, which is staffed by third-year law students under the supervision of their professors. The clinic handles civil, criminal, and transactional matters.
Check out FindLaw's State Laws section to see the different types of free legal aid available in your state or city. You can also contact your state's bar association to point you in the right direction.