Getting legal help, regardless of your financial situation, can be rather straightforward when dealing with criminal law cases. This is because the law provides you with the right to have legal counsel appointed to you if you are not able to afford the cost of hiring a lawyer on your own. Unfortunately, this legal right does not extend to many other areas of the law, such as civil court matters. Consequently, many low-income people find themselves in a position where they feel they have no choice but to represent themselves in these legal matters simply because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. If you have found yourself in this same situation, you should know that there are several places you can turn for the legal help you need, even if you cannot afford to pay legal fees.
More and more local courts are now offering what is referred to as a self-help center. While the name of these centers may imply that you are on your own, it is important not to let the name fool you. The reason that these resource centers are referred to as self-help centers is because the individuals who staff these centers are not lawyers and are, therefore, not able to legally practice law or offer legal advice. However, there are many ways in which these individuals can help. For instance, if you have questions regarding what forms you need to file with the court or the proper way to complete certain forms, these individuals can help you with these tasks at no additional charge.
Legal Aid Office
While not available in some smaller communities, most larger towns and cities will have a legal aid office. The primary job of these offices is to provide low-income people with access to quality representation when dealing with legal matters, such as landlord/tenant issues, family court issues, and employment issues. These offices are typically staffed by a variety of different types of legal professionals, including licensed attorneys. This means that they will be capable of representing you in court if your legal matter requires this type of representation.
In order to qualify for this type of legal help, you will typically be required to meet certain income requirements. While some legal aid offices will offer free services to all of their clients, others may utilize a sliding fee, which is based upon your specific income level.
Pro Bono Services
Many states require all licensed attorneys to complete a certain number of pro bono hours each year in order to maintain their status as a member of the state bar association. Essentially what this means is that these attorneys are required to volunteer a certain number of hours each year. In some cases, you may be able to find a lawyer who is willing to take on your case on a pro bono basis in order to fulfill this state requirement. However, unless your case is particularly compelling, you may find that this particular option for securing legal help is not an option for you since it can require quite a bit of legwork and a little luck.
For more information about getting legal help, contact a local service, such as Ask Legal Dispute.