Find Affordable and No Cost Legal Aid

Lawyers are one of the highest-paid professions in the United States. Because of this, it is intimidating for lower-income residents to even consider hiring a lawyer.

 

This unfortunately leads to many victims choosing not to pursue legal action. If you are concerned about the potential costs of hiring a lawyer, there are many resources you can use to provide affordable or even free legal aid. Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit group established in 1974. The LSC is available in all states, providing funding to over 100 legal aid organizations.

In addition to the LSC, the American Bar Association also runs an assistance program for lower-income individuals. The Bar Association relies on volunteer lawyers to provide free legal counsel to individuals who are normally unable to afford a lawyer. You can also apply for pro bono services, which means a lawyer represents you for free.

Qualifying for Legal Aid

Legal aid is available for any type of case, including personal injury, divorce, family, and criminal cases. In most cases, the main eligibility requirement for free or reduced aid is based on your finances. To qualify for aid through, you must be considered impoverished, meaning you and your household are below the poverty threshold of 125 percent. Some of the most common applicants for legal aid, according to the LSC, are women seeking to leave an unsafe domestic situation, renters who have issues with landlords, veterans, farmers, the disabled, and senior citizens.

Because of the financial requirements, many cases involve family law, housing or consumer issues, and veteran benefits. The LSC also commonly provides assistance in domestic abuse cases, with almost 70 percent of clients being women who are struggling to separate themselves from an abusive partner. In addition to offering legal aid, you can find other assistance programs, such as domestic violence shelters. You can also work with legal experts to go to the police and file an official complaint or request for a restraining order if you are in danger.

If you are in danger of foreclosure, you can also apply for additional legal assistance through the LSC. You can also request assistance if you are being discriminated by your landlord. This includes your landlord threatening to evict you or failing to provide safe living conditions.

How to Find Legal Aid

Legal disputes often take a long time to settle. Most legal disputes are settled without going to trial. Depending on your situation, a trial may not even be an option. Many smaller disputes are settled by a judge. Even these cases can be lengthy, and it may be weeks or even months before you get the opportunity to present your case. The sooner you can get legal proceedings to begin, the better. There are also practical advantages to getting quick legal aid. If your case requires specific evidence or witnesses, it is easier to get in touch with all the relevant parties shortly after the initial incident.

The best way to find free or discounted legal assistance is to go directly through the LSC. The LSC provides a free search system, which allows you to find the nearest legal organization which receives financing from the LSC. The American Bar Association also has search options, allowing you to either search for accredited attorneys in your state, or look specifically for lawyers who assist low income clients. The Bar Association also provides a tool where you can ask questions and receive free answers. This is not as detailed as a normal legal consultation, but it is a good way to quickly get information and help you prepare for your case once you are able to locate a lawyer. Other ways of finding legal aid when you can’t afford a lawyer are

  • Contact the City Courthouse
  • Look to legal aid societies
  • Visit a law school
  • Seek free lawyer consultations
  • Contact your county or state bar association

Applying for Legal Aid

Eligibility for free legal aid varies depending on which state you are applying. If you are applying for legal assistance through the LSC, you must always meet the requirement of being legally low income, no matter where you are applying. The American Bar Association uses a separate set of rules, which are not always income based. In many situations, pro bono cases are determined by the nature of the case. For example, many attorneys are willing to work cases involving veteran or disabled clients pro bono, even if the clients are above the federal poverty level.

Some states also provide free legal resources based on the case. For example, if you are in a dangerous living situation, your state may automatically provide you an attorney. If you are below the poverty limit, you may also qualify for a free public defender if you are charged with a crime. Some states provide free legal aid for veterans who are having issues receiving military benefits.

If you are applying for legal assistance, you want to bring documents relating to your finances as well as the case. Consider bringing your rent bank statements and tax returns, to help verify your financial status. If you are disabled, bring any documents relating to your condition. It also helps if you know whether your case is civil or criminal, as this determines what type of lawyer you need.