Opinions and Legal Insights

How to get Free Legal Advice

In America, hourly billing rates for attorneys can range anywhere between $100 to $1,000.  These rates mean that individuals and small businesses, if in need of legal assistance, may start their process searching for free legal advice. There are many options available to get free legal advice. This advice may be related to any subject matter such as personal, family, business, corporate or even criminal. Read ahead to find out about the various platforms providing free legal services and advice.

DO YOU NEED A LAWYER?

The first step is to determine whether you actually need to retain a lawyer. It’d be a good idea to talk to several attorneys who offer free consultations or just browse through law firm websites to do research. This provides you an opportunity to understand the fee structure of several lawyers and make an informed decision about cost.

It’s possible that a lawyer could take your case on pro bono, which means they wouldn’t charge you for representation. No matter what, you should choose a lawyer that is best equipped in handling cases similar to yours.

WHOM TO CONTACT IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD LEGAL FEES?

There are multiple options that you can avail in case you are unable to afford legal fees.

  1. The U.S Department of Justice: This Department provides a list of free legal service providers who are most oriented towards assisting individuals. (include link)

  2. Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department: Any information required with respect to Americans with Disabilities Act can be obtained through the ADA Business Connection Page. The Civil Rights Division can assist in providing extensive collection of information related to ADA compliance for customers and employees.

  3. City Courthouse: Several courts offer free assistance to parties in several matters, the most common one being mutual divorces.

  4. County or State Bar Association: Several county and state bar associations have special time slots where you may use an ‘Ask an Attorney’ service for free legal advice. These associations may also offer consultations with attorneys for less than $30 dollars on several topics.

  5. Legal Aid Societies: Legal Aid societies and not-for-profit organizations found across the country offer free legal services to lower income groups. Organizations such as LawHelp ensure equal access to justice for Americans.

  6. Consultations with Law Firms and Attorneys: Several law firms and attorneys generally offer free legal advice by phone or videoconferencing. They may also offer alternative methods such as free or bargain basement price. LiveLawyers.org offers free phone consultations with lawyers.

  7. Visit a Law School: Several law schools have legal clinics which offer pro bono programs to assist individuals with a lower income. This includes American University, Appalachian School of Law, Arizona State University, Howard University, Tulane University and many others.

  8. Small Claims Court: In cases where the amount in controversy is small, small claims courts are a good option as most cases don’t require the use of lawyers.

  9. Legal workshops and pro bono clinics: Most State Bar Associations require lawyers to provide pro bono services and conduct free legal workshops and clinics. You may actively participate in them to understand more about the law.

  10. Online Resources: Several websites such as ABA, AVVA, SCORE, OSHA offer free legal advice and online consultation services.

FEDERAL OR STATE ASSISTANCE

Federal, state, and local governments each have their own sets of laws, under one of which your legal issue will likely fall. Depending on your issue, you may want to research all three. Approaching the correct jurisdiction and forum is of utmost importance before filing a case. It is also necessary to determine the practice area under which your case falls under.  Sometimes, a case may demand a combination of laws from different practice areas. Contact the Department of Justice in your state to obtain a better understanding of your legal issue. They may also direct you to clinics offering services which may suit your needs

FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

If you are the owner of a small-scale business, you may use the assistance of any of the aforementioned options for legal assistance. Additionally, platforms such as lawyers.com has a business section for lawyers with free articles and tutorials on several topics along with an “Ask you LawyerSection where you can get answers to your legal questions from top rated lawyers, free of cost. LegalZoom.com has a business legal plan for as low as $23.99 a month for attorneys to review your business contracts, provide advice and so on. Small Business Forums also permit you to run your solution by an attorney. A simple Google search of a specific niche forum can be found by typing “forum” along with the industry. There is also a legal issues discussion board.

The Federal Trade Commission provides information on how and whom to report in case of a suspected antitrust violation, while the Internal Revenue Service provides all such information related to tax in the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Centre.

Make sure you research all available options before making a decision on the service you end up utilizing.