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Tips On Free Or Low Cost Legal Aid

legal aid for everyoneThe following is advice provided by attorney Aaron Larson in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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 services 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."

Source: SPARC -

More about free legal services around the Web:

American Bar Association: Find Legal Help - Consumer's Guide

A Guide to ABA Pro Bono Activities

Free Legal Services by US State


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