These Free & Low-Cost Options May Be Available If You Can’t Afford a Lawyer

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Anyone who has ever hired a lawyer knows they don’t come cheap. Although specific fees and rates vary based on factors such as experience, location, specialty and rate structure, the average attorney fee in the United States is about $225 an hour, according to Thervo, a platform that connects clients with professionals.

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About the least you can expect to pay is $100 an hour, while some firms might charge $300 or more. These kinds of rates are way too pricey for many Americans, and yet almost everyone will likely need legal services during their lives.

For those who can’t afford to pay steep attorney fees, several free and low-cost options are available. Here’s a look at some of them based on suggestions from USA.gov and the American Bar Association.

Legal Services Corporation

LSC is an independent nonprofit organization that was established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. According to its website, it currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. For more information visit the LSC website.

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LawHelp.org

LawHelp lets people with low to moderate incomes find free legal aid and get answers to legal questions. LawHelp is a program of Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit dedicated to giving everyone access to legal help. Visit the LawHelp website to learn more.

Pro Bono Resource Directory

This is a service of the ABA that lets you find pro bono organizations near you by typing in a date range and then searching by state. Visit the website to learn more.

ABA Free Legal Answers

Another service of the ABA, the Free Legal Answers site lets you see if you qualify for free help and then ask volunteer attorneys questions about your civil legal issue. You’ll get an email letting you know when your question receives a response. For more info, visit the Free Legal Answers site.

Law Help Interactive

Powered by ProBono.net, this program helps you fill out legal forms, such as those dealing with uncontested divorces, identity theft, visitation rights and landlord/tenant disputes, for free . Visit the Law Help Interactive website to learn more.

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Directory of Law School Public Interest & Pro Bono Programs

This site was set up to give people access to ABA-accredited law schools with formal pro bono or public service programs — some of which require students to perform pro bono work in order to graduate. Link on the website for more information.  

In addition to the above resources for the general population, free and low-cost legal services are also available to specific groups of people. These include the following, as cited by USA.gov.

Military

Seniors

  • Eldercare Locator: Lets you search for local offices on aging and legal services by city, state or ZIP code
  • Pension Rights Center: Provides free legal help involving problems with your pension, profit-sharing or retirement savings plans
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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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