FREE LEGAL SERVICES IN THE US
There are instances in which you may be able to get free legal services in the U.S. To get an attorney to represent you for free your situation must match these criteria:
CRIMINAL CASES -- You are facing criminal charges and cannot afford to hire an attorney.
In criminal cases you have a constitutional right to an attorney at the federal government expense. When you are charged in court with a criminal offense, the public defender’s office will appoint an attorney to represent you if that is your wish. You also have the option to represent yourself. But beware, you must have a good self help resource to guide you or someone who knows about criminal law to coach you when you need it.
INJURY CASES -- Many personal injury lawyers will agree to represent you on a contingency fee basis.
If you have been injured and someone else is at fault, lawyers will take on your case and charge you only and if some money is recovered on your behalf.
The attorney takes an agreed-upon percentage of the total as fees, which can range from 15% to 50%. As with everything involving money, you must shop around to find the best deal. Even on a contingency fee basis there are some cost your attorney may charge you, which can add up to thousands of dollars.
If you win the case the judge will usually order your legal adversary to pay some of the extra fees, such as expert witnesses fees, court reporter’s fees, court filling fees and some jury fees. Make sure you don’t have to pay these costs out of pocket by asking your lawyer to pay these costs up front, so you can reimburse him/her when the case settles.
FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM -- Legal aid lawyers are government-funded attorneys who represent people who can’t afford an attorney and can qualify for free legal services.
These attorneys represent low income people in a variety of legal situations such as denial of unemployment compensation, eviction defense, consumer credit problems and others. If you think you qualify, call the state bar association or look for the nearest free legal services office in your city.
FAMILY LAW ISSUES -- Many courthouses have established family law centers, where trained staff help non-lawyers with cases involving domestic violence, divorce, child support, child custody and other family law issue or small claims.
These centers provide plain English information and simplified forms for the self-represented that can also be downloaded from their websites. For a list of state, local, federal and international courts go to the National Center for State Courts at www.nsconline.org or www.uscourts.gov.
SOCIAL JUSTICE CASES -- An attorney or non-profit organization may represent you free or PRO BONO (for the public good) basis if your case involves social justice or a civil rights issue.
These cases include: abuse by a partner or spouse, sexual harassment by an employer, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, housing discrimination, employment discrimination, or environment pollution.
If your case deals with these issues get help by calling the local bar association or private organizations such as The NAACP legal defense fund, The American Civil Liberties Union, The lambda legal defense and education fund (gay and lesbian rights), The National Women’s Law Center, The Natural Resources Defense Council.
FREE LEGAL SERVICES IN YOUR STATE