Everyone knows that hiring a lawyer isn’t inexpensive. That’s one of the reasons that many people don’t even try to pursue cases, even if they feel they might have a good claim. Or, they attempt to go it alone. But navigating the court system can be tricky, at best. It can also be frustrating. However, is there really anywhere to get free legal services for low income individuals and families?
Yes! It turns out that there are communities, nonprofits, and businesses focused on offering free legal services for low income workers. Don’t worry, either: The free legal services for low income persons are just as valuable as those that regular legal clients pay a lot of money to have.
If you’d like to learn more about free legal services for low income individuals, families, and business owners, read on to find out about some instances where lawyers are taking away the sting of financial insecurity for everyday folks in need of counsel.
The Importance of Free Legal Services for Low Income Individuals and Families
Before showcasing specific examples of legal teams and professionals giving out free legal services for low income individuals, let’s talk about why it’s necessary. Unfortunately, even families who are not living below the poverty line can still find legal services unaffordable. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t use advice and assistance from a family law firm, of course. They just can’t pay for it.
Even paying for the most basic family law necessities can be daunting for someone living paycheck to paycheck or unable to get out of serious debt. Consequently, lots of people who are getting divorced or trying to change child custody arrangements are left doing everything themselves. As you can imagine, without a law degree, you’re in the dark when it comes to figuring out how to stay on top of documentation and avoid missing strict deadlines.
Family law isn’t the only arena where free legal services for low income people can come in handy. Employees could use some free employment law advice. Small business owners, especially those hurt by COVID-19 shutdowns, might be in need of business law suggestions or, sadly, bankruptcy law opinions. Honestly, lawyers can do quite a bit for numerous people. The only thing often standing in the way is money.
As you read the stories below about free legal services for low income persons, you’ll no doubt be astounded by the generosity of everyone who participates. Remember: Each of these scenarios involves lawyers and other legal experts working for no compensation. Of course, what they get instead is the appreciation of the neighbors they serve. Hopefully, other attorneys will follow their lead. Per research from the American Bar Association, the number of lawyers has risen 15.2 percent in the past 10 years. Those numbers indicate that tons of attorneys could be poised to make a significant contribution to society by engaging in free legal services for low income households.
Virtual and Free Legal Advice for Families
Every year, the Colorado Justice Center and other entities host a special Family Law Day. The Family Law Day legal support in the form of free legal services for low income people who send questions into the organization. The questions are read and distributed to attorneys who are well-suited to answer family law questions about everything from separation to co-parenting.
These free sessions take place over the phone, which is something that’s tremendously appreciated by participants during the pandemic. The virtual nature of the program also makes it easier for anyone to take advantage of Family Law Day. Even remote employees can take some time out of their busy schedules to either chat with a family law lawyer about their problems, or attend workshops and courses.
What workshops and courses are being offered? The titles change year-to-year, but they lean in a family law direction. Again, next year, they’re likely to be offered online via a video-conferencing portal, just for convenience and safety. However, they could be available in person if coronavirus restrictions lift in the coming 12 months.
It’s essential to know that if your town schedules something like Family Law Day that you jump aboard as soon as you can. You don’t want to risk losing your opportunity to get real-time feedback from a knowledgeable legal professional with an extensive background in the type of law you need. Not only could you save tremendous amounts of money by accepting free legal services for low income adults, but you could get a super, personalized law-related education, too.
Free Legal Services for Low Income Families from Texas A&M Law School
Colorado isn’t the only state where free legal services for low income people are being spotlighted. In Texas, a similar offering is taking place at Texas AandM Law School. There, a partnership with the educational institution and a local healthcare system is bridging the gap for parents worried about their kids’ healthcare needs from a legal standpoint.
The types of cases accepted by up-and-coming legal students run the gamut, but all have a medical focus. For instance, a family might be unable to qualify for benefits because the parents make too much money. Yet they can’t afford out-of-pocket the cost of one room with a hospital bed for a night for their sick child. Rather than being forced to put their child’s wellness on the line, the parents want to know from a family law specialist what they can legally do to improve their situation.
Instead of being a one-day event, as was the case in Colorado with Family Law Day, the Texas AandM Law School partnership is year-round. As the healthcare system’s social workers identify persons who could use free legal services for low income workers, they funnel those potential clients to the school. This allows both entities to consistently offer help for those in need who may not realize they have an alternative to paying a private lawyer’s fee.
What are the benefits of this kind of unique arrangement? For one, everyone involved hopes that deserving kids will be able to get treatment when they require it. Secondly, providing free legal services for low income moms and dads should assist the parents through the power of education and knowledge. Finally, the program brings everyone one step closer to the reality of having access to medical care for all people, not those who happen to have decent savings or a credit card to use to retain a lawyer.
Mobile Library Law Center to Provide Free Legal Services for Low Income Families
Across the country in the city and county of Baltimore, another example of free legal services for low income families is taking hold. There, the county’s public library is trying to launch a Mobile Library Law Center. The idea of the Mobile Library Law Center is to bring legal counsel into lower-income neighborhoods. Essentially, the “Center” itself will be a vehicle with a roving staff that includes a practicing attorney.
The attorney will be in the Mobile Library Law Center and speak with residents in underserved parts of the county. These could include anyone from parents trying to seek advice on family law and guardianship, to older people interested in elder law issues. Anyone who needs some free legal services for low income individuals would be welcome to interact with the team inside the Mobile Library Law Center.
Because this idea is currently in its seed stage, the Library is launching charity fundraisers to meet a modest goal of $25,000 more than the $135,000 already brought in through generous donations. Once raised, the final $25,000 will be used to purchase the vehicle and other necessities for the program.
Of course, you might wonder if these types of free legal services for low income families, military veterans, and even those who have been formerly incarcerated is necessary. Baltimore city and county representatives behind the initiative say it is. They believe that by giving instant access to free legal services for low income people throughout their communities, they may be able to help people plan better for the present as well as the future.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time libraries have taken their services to the public rather than waiting for the public to come to them. Tons of libraries across the nation own at least one bookmobile, which is usually a van that travels to schools, neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds, summer camps, childcare facilities, and houses of worship to promote book lending. Therefore, offering free legal services for low income families via the same basic setup is hardly a new way to reach the public and achieve the library’s ultimate objectives.
Free Legal Services for Low Income Business Owners
When speaking about lower income-focused legal services, most people naturally think of individuals, spouses, or families. But how about free legal services for low income business owners who are trying to make a go of their entrepreneurial dreams? It turns out that they’re just as much in need of free legal services for low income people as anyone else. They simply need a more focused type of attorney, such as access to employment lawyers.
To facilitate this type of arrangement, one economic development office in Oregon has partnered with a local legal clinic. The basic gist of their relationship is to team up to provide business attorneys, free of charge, to business owners who have been hit hard by COVID-19.
For example, these services might be well-suited for a restaurateur who has fallen on hard times due to the pandemic. The restaurant owner might need some legal advice but not be able to pay personnel, let alone a lawyer. Being able to get up to eight hours of free legal counsel could make the difference between the restaurant founder having to close the eatery’s doors, or being able to get out of problems caused by the worldwide pandemic, social distancing concerns, and public company shutdowns.
A huge selling point for this particular partnership is that the Oregon entities have teamed up in a way that ensures they can offer free law services in a variety of languages. That’s an enormous advantage, especially for hard-working immigrant families who may have started a business in the United States but still have trouble understanding the nuances of the language.
Like some other free legal services for low income, this arrangement is taking place immediately and is expected to run for the foreseeable future.
Are There Free Legal Services in Your Area?
This article has mainly highlighted just four stellar examples of free legal services being offered to particular populations from coast to coast. If you’re thinking that you probably could use some complimentary law help, but don’t live in any of the aforementioned communities, you might not be out of luck.
Lots of cities have organizations with a mission to get legal services to people who can’t always afford a lawyer on their own. You don’t have to feel awkward about trying to find free legal services. Just use the Internet to find a place near you to call.
At this point, many locations are only offering advice through free phone calls, rather than in-person sessions. That’s to be expected due to COVID-19. However, you can still get tons of information from just speaking with an attorney for 30 minutes or an hour over the phone or maybe through a private teleconferencing portal.
It should be noted, too, that some law firms offer free initial consultations anyway. Even if you don’t think you can afford a lawyer’s fee, you can always call the firm to schedule a free consultation. Though the attorney may try to get you to become a full-fledged client, you can feel free to be honest and explain that you really just want some advice.
Above all else, never let your wallet stop you from gaining access to top-notch legal advice. Free help from a compassionate, well-educated attorney may be closer, not to mention easier to obtain, than you think.