Lawyers are historically known for being prohibitively costly, but unexpected circumstances may lead to the necessity of finding an attorney. Without any funds to hire a lawyer, a person may easily become discouraged and prepare to accept injustice rather than go into debt to pay for legal fees. Despite the temptation to give up, there are some circumstances where the services of a free lawyer can be obtained. Doing some research on hiring a free lawyer or finding low-cost legal help can quickly open up options for legal action.
In some places, the elderly may have access to a free lawyer. Civil issues may be managed at no cost to qualifying Americans over a certain age, provided that they meet income restrictions. Check with the state bar to find out which offices offer free lawyer assistance. While the choice of lawyers may not be extensive, this may be a good way to avoid high legal costs for elderly citizens.
In many regions, people considered below the national poverty line may qualify for free legal aid. Applicants must sometimes provide proof of qualifying income or unemployment in order to receive these services. Many excellent lawyers choose to serve part of their time as a free lawyer in order to help obtain justice for those without the means to hire more expensive attorneys. Choosing a free lawyer through a free legal aid society may be limited to those attorneys in the same geographical region, but a person may sometimes be able to switch lawyers if they experience problems with the initial attorney assigned to the case.
Criminal cases often come with the promise of legal representation for clients who are unable to pay. This type of free lawyer is often known as a public defender, and may be assigned to defendants that cannot afford to hire a attorney. Most of the time, defendants are not allowed to choose a free lawyer, but there is usually an appeals process if a defendant feels the lawyer is not acting in his or her best interest. To appeal for a different public defender, it may be necessary to file a complaint with the court, which will then decide to grant or deny the appeal.
In some cases, a person can get a free lawyer based on the type of case or extenuating circumstances, such as ethnic background. Some lawyers provide pro bono services in situations where they feel the case merits their attention regardless of fees. Many extremely successful and high-paid attorneys will do some pro bono work for cases they find especially interesting or important. There are also legal aid societies run by minority, ethnic, or religious groups that will cover legal expenses of a qualifying member. To find a free lawyer through either of these avenues, an applicant may need to write a letter explaining the details of his or her legal problem and financial situation.