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Finding a free or low-cost lawyer is difficult because there are a lot of people who need lawyers but cannot afford them. Here are the main groups that may be able to help you:. Court-based self-help services Legal aid agencies and other non-profit groups Government agencies Lawyer-referral services and bar associations Law schools Dispute resolution programs Prepaid legal services plans.
All California superior courts have some legal help available to people who do not have lawyers and are representing themselves. Because there are many types of services and information to assist you in getting help from your court, we have created an entire section just for court services. Find out more about help from your court.
Disability resource centers
There are legal aid offices in many cities throughout California. Legal aid agencies are non-profit organizations that provide free legal services to people below a certain income level.
Before you can get help from a legal aid agency, you usually have to qualify for their help based on your low income. Because there are so many people in need of legal help, your income has to be fairly low to qualify. Also, legal aid agencies cannot help with all types of cases.
Legal aid agencies usually help with domestic violence cases, family law, evictions, public benefits, immigration, employment issues, and other types of cases that can cause serious problems in a person's every day life.
They will probably not be able to help you if you want to sue someone because of a car accident for example unless you are filing in small claims court, since some legal aid programs do help with small claims cases.
But if you need a lawyer and cannot afford one, it is always a good idea to try to get help from a legal aid agency in your area. Just do not be discouraged if they cannot help you. Use LawHelpCa. This website can also help you with lawyer referral services, and other free and low-cost services in your county. Non-profit public interest organizations, like groups concerned with civil liberties or housing discrimination, may be able to help you.
These groups sometimes have staff lawyers who might be able to handle your case. Others provide legal help only to groups of people rather than to individuals. For example, they might help you and your neighbors convince your city council to install a traffic light at a busy intersection. There are several government agencies that can offer legal help.
If you look up information on this website by legal topic, you will find information about specific government agencies that help with that topic. For example, in the child support section, you will find a lot of detailed information about your local child support agency and how they can help parents collect and pay child support for their children.
Click to find the local child support agency in your county. Usually, the court will refer you to a public defender. If the public defender cannot take your case or if there is no public defender in your area, the court will usually appoint another lawyer to represent you for free. Find the public defender for your county. You can also find these government agencies in the blue s of your phone book. And you can find them online.
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Lawyer referral services help people find lawyers. They can tell you about free or low-cost legal services in your area for people who qualify. For example, they keep lists of lawyers who will meet with you once to discuss your case.
Sometimes, this initial consultation is all you need to get started on your own.
The lawyer will also explain the services he or she can offer you and how much you can expect to pay. Some lawyers have lower fees for people who do not have very much money. Some lawyers will help you with key parts of your case and let you do the rest called "limited-scope representation" or "unbundling".
Click to find a lawyer referral service in your area. To learn more about limited-scope representation or unbundling. Some law schools have free legal clinics for certain types of legal problems. Your local bar association or your court will likely know about these clinics and can give you more information. Or contact your local law school to find out. Many communities have "dispute resolution" programs.
These programs can try to help "mediate" or work out problems instead of going to court, so you may not need a lawyer. Find more information on resolving your dispute out of court. You may belong to a prepaid group legal services plan through your employer, your union, or your credit union.
Check to see if you belong to a plan. Prepaid legal services plans work in a variety of ways. When you consider a plan, pay careful attention to what the plan does and does not cover.
If you do not anticipate having legal needs in the coming year that will be covered by the plan, you should think carefully before purchasing a plan. Similarly, if you think that you might take advantage of a service under the plan, such as the preparation of a simple will, be aware that lawyers who accept the plan will likely try to sell you an upgraded service. In some cases, it will make sense to obtain the upgraded service, but there may not be any cost savings as a result of plan membership.
Also, if you find that you do not like the lawyer available through your plan, you may find that you are unable to change lawyers through the plan or that there are no other lawyers in the area who participate in the plan. You may wish to inquire about the identities of local lawyers who accept a specific plan before making the decision to purchase the plan.
If you are purchasing a plan through an independent representative, instead of directly from the corporation that sponsors the plan or through a group such as your employer, union, or credit unionyou should pay special attention to the written language of the plan and compare this to any promises made by the representative.
Plans that sell through multilevel marketing may refuse to take responsibility for any false promises made by an independent representative, who may well be primarily motivated by earning a commission rather than serving your best interests.
You may be eligible for a prepaid legal services plan through your employer, your union, or your credit union. Your regional Better Business Bureau may also be able to provide you with consumer information about particular plans.
Cancel Print. Advanced Search. Free and Low-Cost Legal Help. Here are the main groups that may be able to help you: Court-based self-help services Legal aid agencies and other non-profit groups Government agencies Lawyer-referral services and bar associations Law schools Dispute resolution programs Prepaid legal services plans Court-based self-help services All California superior courts have some legal help available to people who do not have lawyers and are representing themselves.
Legal aid agencies and other nonprofit groups Legal aid agencies There are legal aid offices in many cities throughout California. Nonprofit and public interest groups Non-profit public interest organizations, like groups concerned with civil liberties or housing discrimination, may be able to help you.
Government agencies There are several government agencies that can offer legal help. Lawyer-referral services Lawyer referral services help people find lawyers. Law schools Some law schools have free legal clinics for certain types of legal problems. Dispute resolution programs Many communities have "dispute resolution" programs. Prepaid legal services plans You may belong to a prepaid group legal services plan through your employer, your union, or your credit union.