Don’t despair of getting competent legal assistance just because you can’t afford a high-priced lawyer. You may be able to get the help you need for little or no money.
A dispute over taxes can often be resolved with the help of a local taxpayers’ association. An insurance claim can sometimes be settled through your state insurance commissioner. Get assistance on discrimination from the offices of the federal or state attorneygeneral, or contact a special-interest organization concerned with your particular legal problem. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Organization for Women are among groups that will bring suit for an individual.
A problem involving the courts requires the services of a licensed attorney. If you are a defendant in a criminal race and cannot afford a lawyer, the court must appoint one at no cost to you. Tell the police that you want to speak to the public defender before answering any questions. Legal Aid Society In civil and administrative cases, you maybe able to obtain a lawyer at little or no charge through a Legal Aid Society office. Found in many cities, these offices give help in three major areas: domestic relations; disputes between a client and a landlord, lender, or installment seller; and small money claims for wages. Eligibility requirements vary, but financial need is always a key determinant.
If you don’t qualify for Legal Aid or if you feel you would be better served by a private lawyer, you may want to explore the free or reduced-cost services that some law firms provide pro bono publico (“for the public good”). Check the Yellow Pages under “Attorney Referral Services.”
Some communities have legal clinics that help with relatively simple matters, such as a routine will or an uncontested divorce. If you are involved in a dispute about a small amount of money, you can bring the matter to small claims court without a lawyer.