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Low-Cost Legal Help: Alternatives to Lawyers

Whether you're making a will, signing a lease, or facing an uncontested divorce, sometimes you need a lawyer and can't afford one. In those circumstances, legal aid can provide you with low-cost legal help with your civil case. Unfortunately, strict financial requirements exclude many people who can't pay for an attorney.

So what can you do if you don't qualify for legal aid but can't afford the high price of legal work? Fortunately, there are many low-cost legal help alternatives to hiring an attorney where you can find help.

Lawyer Referrals and Legal Clinics

If you're looking for low-cost legal representation, there are many places you can start. Many state and local bar associations have referral services to help you find attorneys who might be able to help you. The referral services have volunteer lawyers who agree to provide free legal representation (also known as “pro bono") if you financially qualify. These are private attorneys who agree to help people with low-income with their legal issues.

Many law schools have legal clinics staffed with law students to provide free legal help with matters like child support or evictions. You may also find self-help clinics located at local courthouses. These clinics cannot provide legal advice. But they can provide legal resources and direct you to legal forms and legal information to help you handle your own case.

There are also nonprofit organizations, such as legal aid, which can provide legal help in cases like domestic violence or foreclosures. Legal aid programs are typically local organizations that can help low-income people with important legal problems. These providers can be found through online resources such as

Free Legal Consultations

Finding the right lawyer can be time-consuming. It requires you to do online research and then make multiple appointments with different firms. Many lawyers understand this and, in turn, offer free consultations. That means your first appointment will be free of charge.

A first meeting will give you a better idea of the lawyer's experience in the area of law of your case, the amount of work your case will require, or whether you have a legal case at all. Sometimes, once your legal questions are answered, you may find that you can handle the problem on your own or that your case isn't as strong as you thought. Of course, after the free consultation, you'll have to pay if you continue to use the lawyer's services. But a free consultation can help you save money while getting the ball rolling in the right direction.

Our FindLaw Lawyer Directory lists attorneys who offer free consultations, making it easy for you to find a local attorney who will give you a first appointment free of charge.

Do-It-Yourself Legal Forms

In the past, if you needed legal work done, you had to hire an attorney. Now, you can handle many basic legal needs on your own by using do-it-yourself legal forms and other self-help resources available for purchase online. All you need to do is fill in the legal forms with your specific information, as directed, and file them with the appropriate offices or officials.

Whether you need to create a will, file for divorce, sell your home, or declare bankruptcy, do-it-yourself legal forms can help you get it done at a fraction of the cost. Pre-drafted legal forms can also save your business time and money. The forms make starting a business, protecting your intellectual property, or hiring workers an affordable legal undertaking. They can provide reliable and low-cost legal help in certain situations, but not all types of cases are covered.

In legal matters where you don't feel comfortable representing yourself, you can save a lot of money by filling out your own forms and then using an attorney to review the completed forms. You will have to pay the attorney for their time, but they can help make sure your legal rights are protected.

Of course, if the issues involved in your case are particularly complicated, you'll need to consult with an attorney. For example, if you have a family law case with custody or property issues or a personal injury case with lots of medical information, you'll want to have an attorney on your side.

If you decide to represent yourself or find low-cost legal help, FindLaw can help you find the best resources available to help with your civil case. Check out these resources for more information:

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