Can I get free legal help? I can’t afford an attorney

There are many people out there who cannot afford an attorney.

Hiring a lawyer for a case can be a costly experience, even if your lawyer charges less per hour than others.

However, several services are available for people with low incomes who cannot afford legal representation, but these services vary from state to state and even from town to town.

One first step you should take when looking for a lawyer is to start looking into Legal Aid. This includes services that provide legal aid to people who cannot afford them. You can search for legal aid services in your area and contact those who interest you. The most common are legal clinics, law firms, and pro bono lawyers. A pro bono lawyer provides legal services by donating his/her time and experience to help clients in a financial crisis.

The American Bar Association (ABA) recommends that all lawyers in the US donate 50 hours of pro bono service per year. Some do more, some do less than 50 hours, but you can ask a lawyer whether he/she provides such services. Your lawyer will decide whether you are eligible.

Legal clinics are often funded by the Legal Services Corporation and can either have in-house counsel working to help those in need or place clients with a firm or pro bono lawyers who have registered with the clinic. However, before you conclude that you cannot afford a lawyer, you should be aware that many lawyers will take a civil case on a contingency fee. This means that you do not have to pay the lawyer anything unless he/she wins your case. If the case is won, the lawyer will receive a percentage (fee) of the settlement or civil judgment, which is usually one-third to 40% of the settlement. The best option is to select a lawyer and ask if your case qualifies to be handled on contingency.

Another issue with people seeking legal representation and who have a low income is the case evaluation. Many lawyers provide a free case evaluation to determine whether you have a case or not. For example, at the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm in Elk Grove and Sacramento County, we work based on a contingency fee, and we provide a free case evaluation.

For quality legal representation, please contact our personal injury attorneys at the Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm by phone or send us an email, and someone from our office will be in touch with you shortly.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for legal advice and in no way constitutes legal advice or gives rise to an attorney-client relationship. Adequate counsel is fact-dependent and requires independent analysis and inquiry specific to your situation and circumstances. This article is meant as a guide to explain in general and brief terms certain issues and serves to provide general information. Contact O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm at 916-714-8200 if you require legal help or wish to seek legal advice for your specific legal issue(s).