legal services
legal services

How to Find Legal Help When You Can’t Afford a Lawyer

Whether you need help drawing up a will or a contract – or you’re facing some sort of legal jeopardy or dilemma – hiring an attorney can be expensive.

According to and related websites, most lawyers charge between $100 and $300 an hour. That can feel prohibitive if you need a lawyer to get you out of a legal jam or protect your assets, but you don’t feel like you have any money to spare. Here are some reasons you may need a lawyer:

  • Family law issues, like a contentious divorce.
  • Estate planning.
  • Personal injury.
  • Criminal charges.
  • A restraining order.
  • Your business needs to be restructured or dissolved.
  • You are facing bankruptcy.

In a criminal proceeding, if you can’t afford legal assistance, a court will appoint an attorney for you. In a civil case, generally described as a dispute between two private parties, to get legal representation, you have to get creative.

How to Find Free Legal Help

If you can’t afford an attorney, here are some strategies to try:

  • Contact the city courthouse.
  • Seek free lawyer consultations.
  • Look to legal aid societies.
  • Visit a law school.
  • Contact your county or state bar association.
  • Go to small claims court.

Depending on your situation, you can employ a variety of strategies to get free legal advice or cheap legal assistance. Read on for more information on each option.

Contact the City Courthouse

Andrea Vacca, a collaborative divorce attorney in New York City and the owner of Vacca Family Law Group, says at least with divorces, “some courts offer free assistance to parties who want to fill out their own uncontested divorce paperwork.”

Still, whether it’s a divorce or something else bringing you to court, if you don’t have a lawyer, a logical move is to call the courthouse and ask

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A.I. Is Coming for Lawyers, Again

More than a decade ago, lawyers were singled out as an endangered occupational species, their livelihoods at risk from advances in artificial intelligence.

But the doomsayers got ahead of themselves. While clever software has taken over some of the toil of legal work — searching, reviewing and mining mountains of legal documents for nuggets of useful information — employment in the legal profession has grown faster than the American work force as a whole.

Today, a new A.I. threat looms, and lawyers may feel a bit of déjà vu. There are warnings that ChatGPT-style software, with its humanlike language fluency, could take over much of legal work. The new A.I. has its flaws, notably its proclivity to make things up, including fake legal citations. But proponents insist those are teething defects in a nascent technology — and fixable.

Will the pessimists finally be right?

Law is seen as the lucrative profession perhaps most at risk from the recent advances in A.I. because lawyers are essentially word merchants. And the new technology can recognize and analyze words and generate text in an instant. It seems ready and able to perform tasks that are the bread and butter of lawyers.

“That is really, really powerful,” said Robert Plotkin, an intellectual property lawyer in Cambridge, Mass. “My work and my career has been mostly writing text.”

But unless the past isn’t a guide, the impact of the new technology is more likely to be a steadily rising tide than a sudden tidal wave. New A.I. technology will change the practice of law, and some jobs will be eliminated, but it also promises to make lawyers and paralegals more productive, and to create new roles. That is what happened after the introduction of other work-altering technologies like the personal computer and the internet.

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Legal Services Division

Who We Are

The mission of the American Bar Association Legal Services Division is to actively promote access to justice by ensuring the quality and accessibility of necessary legal services for those in need through the work of its entities’ programs, initiatives, and policy-making. The Division also achieves its mission by supporting civil legal aid, public defense, and military attorneys in their practices and professional development, along with the institutions and organizations that work to ensure access to justice for all.
The Legal Services Division houses the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID), which works on matters relating to legal aid and defender services, and supports state-based Access to Justice Commissions through its Resource Center for ATJ Initiatives. The Division is also the home of the ABA Military and Veterans Legal Center, where the Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP), Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law (SCAFL), and the Coordinating Committee on Veterans Benefits and Services are staffed and managed, along with these entities’ pro bono legal service programs serving military families and veterans.

Learn More – About Us

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How Lawyers Can Dramatically Boost Their Incomes

To say that for many being a lawyer today is difficult may very well be an understatement. Of course, there are lawyers who are doing exceptionally well and will probably continue to do so. Meanwhile, a significant and growing percentage of lawyers are finding it tougher to maintain their earnings capability, a situation that’s likely only going to get worse going forwards. And, for most newly minted lawyers, the outlook is looking increasingly bleak.

There are many reasons for the growing financial drought affecting lawyers. For example, individual and corporate clients are becoming more critical of the value of the legal services they’re receiving. This, in turn, is making legal bills more and more “voluntary” or better said, negotiable. In fact, consultants have sprung up whose job it is to evaluate and push down legal bills. We’re also seeing that technology in various ways is mitigating the need for many of the “hours” lawyers had previously billed. While the legal business environment is getting less friendly on a nearly daily basis, the law schools continue to turn our lawyers at a fairly precipitous clip.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, lets make three key assumptions:

  1.  As a lawyer you want to continue with the practice of law as opposed to switching careers.
  2. You do not expect the commercial environment for legal services to change considerably for the better in the near future.
  3. You want to earn as much as possible while maintaining the highest ethical standards.

As a lawyer, if these assumptions seem reasonable to you, what do you need to do to excel? The approach you need to take is pretty straightforward.

We need to start by understanding which lawyers are the ones doing the best financially. The lawyers who are making the serious money

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California is offering free immigration legal services for community college students

Photo Courtesy of TODEC

Palo Verde College in Blythe, California, had a special graduation ceremony for students who obtained U.S. citizenship with the help of legal services.

If you’re a student, staff or faculty member at a California community college, you’re eligible for free legal immigration services.

Since 2019, California has been investing $10 million yearly in a program that provides legal services to help community college students renew their status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, identify options to apply for permanent residency or for permanent residents to apply for naturalization, among other services.

Anyone affiliated with any community college campus can sign up online for a consultation with an attorney or paralegal. Most campuses offer either in-person or online consultations, while some more remote campuses only offer online appointments.

Armando Martinez Vega came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2009, when he was in third grade, after his father obtained permanent residency for the family. Martinez Vega finished elementary school, middle school and high school in Watsonville, California, and then began attending community college.

When his dad finally obtained U.S. citizenship, Martinez Vega was 19, too old to naturalize automatically through his father’s application. He knew he had to apply for citizenship himself, but he had no idea how to go about it. Then, his sister brought home a flyer about free immigration legal services at Cabrillo College, where both siblings were taking classes.

Martinez Vega made an appointment to talk with an attorney, and last month he was sworn in as a citizen.

“I was really happy. It feels great, and you just feel more sure and more

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Katten Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Free Services at Legal Clinic in a Chicago Public School

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.

Katten Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Free Services at Legal Clinic in a Chicago Public School

Apr 20, 2023 (PRNewswire via COMTEX) —
PR Newswire

CHICAGO, April 20, 2023

CHICAGO, April 20, 2023     /PRNewswire/ — Katten announced today that the firm commemorated a decade of service with the Katten Legal Clinic at Chicago Public Schools’ Jose de Diego Community Academy in collaboration with Legal Aid Chicago, the Midwest’s largest provider of free civil legal services.

“Our Katten de Diego Legal Clinic is the crown jewel of our pro bono program.” – Jonathan Baum, Katten’s senior counsel

“Our Katten de Diego Legal Clinic is the crown jewel of our pro bono program. It exemplifies our commitment to provide high-quality legal services to those who desperately need them but can’t afford to pay for them,” said Jonathan K. Baum, Katten’s Director of Pro Bono Services. “I salute the talented attorneys and paralegals who have helped our clients navigate tough situations in tough times. And we are so grateful to our partners at Legal Aid Chicago, without whom this work would not be possible.”

The Katten clinic is one of the nation’s first legal aid clinics in an urban public school, an initiative that was recognized in 2016 with an American Bar Association (ABA) Pro Bono Publico Award.

“Legal Aid Chicago is proud to partner with Katten and the Jose de Diego Community Academy to deliver critical legal services to the Humboldt Park community. The Katten de Diego Legal Clinic provides an opportunity for people to receive help and have their stories heard within their own neighborhood, making legal aid accessible to those who need it the most,” said Melissa A. Bartolomei, supervisory attorney of Pro Bono and Community

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Why You Might Need Legal Support Services

Whether writing contracts for freelance employees or navigating a lawsuit, every business has to deal with legal matters at some point. With mountains of paperwork and confusing jargon, legal issues can be especially intimidating if you lack the experience to handle them. But you don’t have to do it on your own.

Small businesses can work with legal support services to minimize confusion and protect their assets. Seek them out ahead of time so you and your business are ready for anything. 

Business owners face many legal issues as well as overwhelming paperwork, and without access to the right legal counsel, a company can run into serious financial problems. Prepare for any situation so you’re not caught off-guard. The type of business you conduct will reflect the types of legal services you’re most likely to need. However, here are a few of the top examples of frequent legal services:

  • Constructing a business structure: Before launching, you should seek out an attorney to determine the business structure that protects you best against liability claims.
  • Creating contracts: Creating legal and binding contracts are an important part of your business operations. Similar to contracts, many companies need legal services for agreements.
  • Navigating licensing: Licensing is a common legal need for small businesses since many companies are unaware of potential violations. Licensing services save you from expensive fines down the road.
  • Preparing for lawsuits: Although being sued may be a worst-case scenario, legal support services can help you prepare for or navigate this type of situation. 
  • Handling human resources: There are many HR legalities surrounding the hiring and firing of staff. Without the right legal protections in place, your business can be open to lawsuits.
  • Addressing harassment: Protecting your business and your workers
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‘Mega legal services’ camp organised

Ensure schemes’ benefits reach poor and needy: Rijiju

ITANAGAR, 23 Apr: Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju asked the implementing agencies to ensure that the benefits of various developmental packages of the government reach the poor and the needy.

Rijiju said that the central government is providing numerous people-centric and development packages to the state government in all sectors. “But late submission of utilisation certificates due to various reasons is posing a stumbling block to granting additional fund by the central government,” the minister said.

Rijiju was addressing the people after inaugurating a ‘mega legal services camp’ and a ‘Pro Bono Club’ at the Jarbom Gamlin Law College (JGLC) in Jote on Sunday.

The minister said that the people, especially the targeted groups, should be made aware of the various initiatives taken by the government for their welfare. He said also that free legal services should be provided to people who cannot afford the fees.

He discussed with the law students the importance of pro bono culture in providing equal access to justice in the country.

Replying to a memorandum submitted by the college fraternity, pertaining to infrastructure development, boundary walls, and requirement of more land for the college, the minister assured to look into the needs “after proposals are submitted by the state government to the Centre.”

Law & justice adviser Kento Jini highlighted the initiatives of the government to empower the GB institutions, and exhorted the GBs to deliver justice without fear or favour.

Gauhati High Court judges Suman Shyam and Nani Tagia also spoke.

The camp was followed by a public rally, during which the minister urged the people, especially the youths, to take advantage of such camps.

The event was memorialised with laying of the foundation stone for a new court building of the JMFC first class

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International report explores community legal services for better access to justice

International report explores community legal services for better access to justice
Examples of what community-based justice can include. Credit: Exploring Community-Based Services, Costs and Benefits for People-Centered Justice (2023).

Community legal clinics, paralegal services, social workers and others assisting those who cannot easily access legal help, are a few ways of narrowing the gap in accessing justice that’s prevalent across the globe, says York University legal expert Professor Trevor Farrow, co-author of a new international report released today.

The report, Exploring Community-Based Services, Costs and Benefits for People-Centered Justice, is a review of recent studies conducted by researchers in Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Canada, to understand how effective grassroots support systems are in alleviating, if not eliminating, barriers to justice.

The research is part of Community-Based Justice Research (CBJR) project. The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ), based at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, played a lead role in co-ordinating the project.

According to Farrow, associate dean of research at Osgoode, the inaccessibility of legal services is a common issue, be it in Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Canada, or rest of the world. In fact, the United Nations has identified access to justice as a global crisis that—through its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—requires collective efforts and shared solutions, continues Farrow.

According to earlier research from the CFCJ, approximately 50 percent of adult Canadians will experience a legal problem in any given three-year period. “Like the rest of the world, there is an access-to-justice crisis in Canada,” notes Farrow, who also serves as chair of the CFCJ. “Law and legal issues are everywhere, but very few people can afford legal help.”

Grassroots-level support can help change this situation for the better, says CFCJ Senior Research Fellow Ab Currie, who also co-authored the report.

“Getting access to trained social workers at drop-in shelters, support workers at community

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Justice Bus offering legal aid services in rural southeast Minnesota communities in May

May 1—RUSHFORD — The Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services is offering legal aid services in rural communities from May 16-23, 2023.

The Justice Bus provides legal information, resources and referrals. SMRLS provides free legal services to low-income people in critical civil matters throughout its 33-county service area in southern Minnesota.

The Justice Bus will travel throughout the region in the coming months. The May schedule includes:

Tuesday, May 16

* Rushford: 9-11 a.m. at SEMCAC Food Shelf, 113 E. Jessie St.

* Caledonia: Noon to 2 p.m. at the Public Library, 231 E. Main St.

* La Crescent: 3-5 p.m. at the Public Library, 321 Main St.

Wednesday, May 17

* Wabasha: 9-11 a.m. at the Public Library, 168 Alleghany Ave.

* Plainview: Noon to 2 p.m. at Highway 42 and Broadway Ave.

* St. Charles: 3-5 p.m. at the City Park, 719 W. Sixth St.

Thursday, May 18

* Preston: 9-11 a.m. at the SEMCAC Food Shelf, 515 Washington St. NW.

* Le Roy: Noon to 2 p.m. at the Public Library, 605 Broadway.

* Stewartville: 3-5 p.m. at the American Legion, 1100 Second Ave. NW.

Friday, May 19

* Red Wing: 9-11 a.m. at the Public Library, 225 East Ave.

* Cannon Falls: Noon to 2 p.m. at the Public Library, 306 Mill St. W.

* Zumbrota: 3-5 p.m. at the Public Library, 100 West Ave.

Monday, May 22

* Austin: 9-11 a.m. at the Welcome Center, 105 First St. SE.

* Blooming Prairie: Noon to 2 p.m. at the Public Library, 138 Highway Ave. S.

* Owatonna: 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Community Pathways, 155 Oakdale St.

Tuesday, May 23

* Faribault: 9-11 a.m. at the Community Action Center, 1400 Cannon Circle.

* Kenyon: Noon to 2 p.m. at the Public Library, 709 Second St.

* Northfield: 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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