Find a Pro Bono Lawyer
Finding a lawyer to represent you in a court of law can be very expensive at times and not every person can afford one. However, there are pro bono programs that match lawyers who volunteer their time to low-income clients, typically only charging them a fee if they win. Below are some legal areas where you may find pro bono services in your area.
What Is A Pro Bono Attorney & How Can You Benefit From Their Services?
A pro bono attorney is one who offers free or reduced-cost legal representation for a range of civil and criminal litigation matters. No one, aside from someone charged with a crime, is guaranteed free legal help. However, there are many free legal services and programs that will connect you with pro bono attorneys in your area. The most common areas of law that pro bono attorneys offer services in are:
- Domestic Violence
- Child Custody
- Unemployment Cases
If you are charged with a crime, the constitution of the United States of America states guarantees that the person charged will receive free legal representation provided they are unable to pay for attorney services. If an individual finds themselves in such a position, all they have to do is request the court to appoint a lawyer on their behalf during the court appearance.
Mostly, the first appearance is usually within the first twenty-four hours after a person has been arrested. The court in most instances makes a person sign an affidavit declaring that they are broke and that they only have few possessions as well as funds that can cater for representation payments.
How Do 'Pro Bono' Cases Work?
People with non-criminal, meritorious legal issues who cannot afford to pay attorneys' fees should not be shy about seeking pro bono services. There are lawyers and law firms who set aside time and non-billable hours for this reason. Typically there are a set of requirements you need to meet in order to be eligible for pro bono services. These requirements may vary from agency to agency or firm to firm.
If you meet these requirements, you will be given an appointment to come in and speak with an intake worker. They will carefully note the details of your case and present them to the deciding manager who will evaluate the merits of your case. If your case does not meet the guidelines, you will be given a referral to another agency.
If your case is accepted, the intake worker will find a pro bono attorney to help you. Where the agency can assist, but is backlogged, say in the area of domestic and family law, your name may go on a waiting list until an opening occurs. You will not be charged any fees for this service, nor the services of the pro bono attorney.
Why Do Attorneys Offer Free Legal Aid?
The pro bono attorney qualification is the exact same for paying and non-paying clients. They are licensed legal professionals who work in law firms, private practices and non-profit agencies. Their reasons for offering free services are varied: from getting experience in a particular field to presenting a positive image of the firm to the community.
However, the overwhelming majority donate their professional services because they want to. They want to help others as a way of giving back to their communities and make a tangible difference in people's lives. No cost legal aid provided by attorneys can help those in needs. Society is much better off for the sacrifices pro bono attorneys make for others. Their invaluable work means that indigent clients with legitimate legal needs can have competent legal representation when going to court. Without their services, low-income communities would forgo the legal process simply because they cannot pay and have no idea how to present a pro se case. This is why the work of pro bono attorneys is so important. They give access to justice to many who would not otherwise have it.
10 Tips For Finding a Pro Bono Lawyer & No Cost Legal Aid
Most lawyers will mostly advertise for paid services and will do little advertisement for their pro bono services. Finding a lawyer who is totally willing to help can be a hassle without the right tips. To find the right pro bono lawyer:
- Look for attorneys who have won several pro bono cases
- Call the top attorneys and ask if they can take the case
- Contact your county or state bar association
- Find a firm with enough resources to handle the case
- Do not go around targeting all law firms (a lot of time may be wasted for nothing)
- Target lawyers that have recently graduated
- Look to legal aid societies
- Never sacrifice quality
- Contact a non-profit organization
- Be courteous and polite.