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May 21, 2024, 03:45:19 AM

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Tips On Free Or Low Cost Legal Aid

Personally, we would rather work with a good law student than a disinterested professional. The law student may not have the experience of the professional, but he will be much more dedicated to your case and will be able to question his instructors if he needs help.

The American Bar Association has a list of pro-bono assistance groups for each state available at http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/home.html.

The following is advice provided by attorney Aaron Larson in Ann Arbor, Michigan (this is an excerpt from one of his personal pages that is no longer available).

Legal Services & Law School Clinics


If you do not have a lot of money, you may be able to obtain free or low-cost legal services through a "legal services" office, or through a clinical program at a law school in your state. Often, even if you do not qualify for those programs, they can refer you to attorneys who take cases like yours at a reduced rate.

Private Legal Services & Insurance


Many large employers provide legal assistance for their employees. Additionally, "legal insurance" programs have developed, where in return for your insurance premium you are offered free or reduced fee legal services in a variety of areas. If you are thinking about buying legal insurance, read the policy carefully to see what kinds of legal matters are covered or excluded, what co-payments are required, and whether you are able to select your own attorney.

Pro Bono

Most attorneys periodically take cases on a "pro bono" or "no fee" basis. This is usually done where the case is of particular interest to the attorney, and the issue involved in the case is significant to the public interest. Please note that attorneys receive many requests for pro bono work, and can at best take only a few of those cases.

(It should be noted that "pro bono" is an abbreviation for "pro bono publico", meaning "for the public good". While it is customary for attorneys to do their "pro bono" work without charging a fee to the client, "pro bono" work may nevertheless result in fees, for example if the representation allows the attorney to ask for attorney fees as part of the judgment.)

This suggestion, edited slightly for clarity, was provided by an attorney who participates on the SPARC site:
"There are a lot of ways to get legal help. Most of it is not 'free', but it is little or none out of pocket. One of the slickest ways to get free legal service is to go the local county legal aid society and request that they find an opening for you so you can volunteer some of your time. Most legal aid societies are so short handed that they virtually never turn down anyone who volunteers to help out. Tell them that you're willing to do whatever kind of work it is that they need done, and don't forget to say "please" a few times.

Legal aid societies typically have a variety of attorneys in different fields working there, often doing pro bono work. Attorneys can also get support survices there using the legal aid staff (that's you). The first thing to learn are common legal terms and processes, what these processes do and a general understanding of how they work. After a month or so you should be able to "talk the talk" and then start getting assistance from the attorneys and other legal staff.

This way you get the help you need, a lot of insider view points plus an education.

Be creative, good luck, I hope this helps you."

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