What is Legal Aid?
Have you ever found yourself in legal trouble but didn’t know who to turn to for help? Maybe you have an upcoming criminal trial or a civil matter, but you can’t afford a private attorney?
Then you should consider seeking free legal aid. The most common providers of free legal assistance are:
- The federal government, under the Legal Services Corporation
- Private attorneys on a pro-bono basis
- Legal clinics
- Law students
- The Legal Aid Society (New York)
Here is an in-depth description of each legal aid service and how you can access it.
Under the law, every accused person has a right to legal representation during their trial. The law further provides that accused persons who cannot afford a lawyer are entitled to a government attorney.
In civil matters, you may not be entitled to a state-provided lawyer. However, you may qualify for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) legal aid program.
Usually, the federal government funds free legal aid for low-income Americans via the LSC. To qualify for this program, the litigant must show that their household income is less than 125% of the federal poverty level.
If you wish to apply for this program, all you need is to visit the LSC website and fill in the required details.
If you qualify, the corporation will contact you to provide them with more information about your case.
Some lawyers offer free or low-cost legal services for low-income citizens. Typically, however, they limit their services to free consultations via telephone or video conference.
Some, however, may take up cases and even represent their clients in court pro bono.
To know which attorneys offer free services in your locality, search for legal aid lawyers near me.
You will get recommendations so you can contact them and find out how they can help you.
Even if an attorney does not take your case for free, you may get plenty of guidance from a 15-minute consultation session.
This will help you navigate your matter better and confidently.
Another place you can look to for legal aid is a legal clinic in your neighborhood. A quick search on the internet will bring up various clinics in every state, including:
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- District of Columbia
- Florida Nevada
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- American Samoa
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Virgin Islands
Some of the more notable legal clinics are:
- Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project
- Supreme Court Clinic
- Tulane Environmental Law Clinic
- Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic
These organizations comprise attorneys and other legal professionals who provide free legal services to low-income families.
You can get advice on your case, although the chances of getting free legal work from a clinic are slim.
Most legal clinics limit their services to low-income families only. If your household income exceeds the low-income parameter, you might not get any assistance here.
If you are in a tight fix and can’t afford to hire an attorney, you can pay a law student for guidance in your case.
Of course, the student cannot represent you in court, but you might get invaluable help from them.
Often, students are well-versed with various aspects of the law and can offer comprehensive guidance on complicated procedures.
This is why turning to them for legal aid is a viable option.
The Legal Aid Society
If you live in New York, The Legal Aid Society is the largest and most influential social justice law firm in New York City and is built on one belief: no person should be denied their right to social justice.
Their team of experts works together across practice areas such as:
- Criminal Defense
- Civil Rights
- Juvenile Rights
- Pro Bono
If you need help with your case, don’t hesitate to seek help. You can get help from free legal aid lawyers, the government, law students, the Legal Aid Society and even legal clinics.
Be sure to try out these options; you will not regret it.