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Free Legal Aid in Des Moines

Last updated: November 21, 2013

Do you have a legal issue in the Des Moines area, but can’t afford to hire an attorney? There are many free or low-cost legal service options for Polk and Warren County residents. The main provider is the Iowa Legal Aid, a nonprofit legal aid organization providing free legal aid to low-income residents and seniors. There may be income limits that apply for you to qualify for free/low-cost help. Contact the specific agency to learn more. Below is a list of several organizations available to help you.

General Law

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa

    505 Fifth Avenue
    Suite 901

    Des Moines,
    IA 50309

    Tel: (515) 243-3576

    Areas of Law: Discrimination, Election and Voting, Freedom Speech, Freedom of Religion, Immigration Rights, LGBT Rights, Privacy, Police Practices, Jail and Prison Conditions, and other issues of fair treatment by government.

    Good to Know: The ACLU does not usually assist in the following types of cases: criminal defense or post-conviction appeals, divorce or child custody disputes, property disputes, tax problems, workers compensation issues, consumer complaints, landlord-tenant disputes, building code issues and complaints about lawyers or judges. Requests for legal assistance must be submitted online.


  • Iowa Legal Aid

    Central Iowa Regional Office
    1111 9th Street, Suite 230

    Des Moines,
    IA 50314

    Tel: (515) 280-3636

    Areas of Law: Consumer, Education, Employment, Family, Health, Housing, Elderly, Children/Youth Issues, Public Benefits, Probate

    Good to Know: This office offers advice/legal counsel, brief services, self-help clinics, community legal education, and referrals, as well as full representation in administrative hearings and county, state, and federal courts. They do not assist with criminal cases. Applicants must qualify for services under financial guidelines. These guidelines are based on household size, income and assets. Most families who receive government benefits or who have minimum wage jobs are eligible for services. Offices are located in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Waterloo.

Elder Law

  • Legal Hotline for Older Iowans

    1111 9th Street
    Suite 230

    Des Moines,
    IA 50314

    Tel: (800) 992-8161

    Areas of Law: Civil

    Good to Know: This program provides free legal services to Iowans 60 and over.


  • Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project

    1111 9th Street
    Suite 230

    Des Moines,
    IA 50314

    Tel: (800) 992-8161

    Areas of Law: Employment, Pensions

    Good to Know: This group provides information, counseling, and representation regarding pensions sponsored by employers, unions, and governments, including defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans such as 401(k) plans. They do not provide direct representation in court.


  • Catholic Charities Immigration Services

    601 Grand Ave
    Des Moines,
    IA 50309

    Tel: (515) 243-7653

    Areas of Law: Immigration

    Good to Know: This organization provides limited immigration and refugee services. There may be a fee. Call to learn more.


  • Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project

    HOLA Project
    625 E. Court, Suite 100

    Des Moines,
    IA 50309

    Tel: (515) 243-3904

    Area of Law: Immigrant Rights, Immigration, Domestic Violence

    Good to Know: This special project provides outreach, support, and advice to Polk County’s Hispanic and immigrant communities. Call to learn dates and times.

Law School Clinics

  • Drake University Legal Clinic

    2400 University Avenue
    Des Moines,
    IA 50311

    Tel: (515) 271-3851

    Areas of Law: Appellate, Children's Rights, Criminal Defense, Elder Law, General Civil, Tax

    Good to Know: The law school only takes on new cases at certain times of the year. Call to learn about intake procedures. 


  • University of Iowa Clinical Law Program

    University of Iowa Law School
    386 Boyd Law Building

    Iowa City,
    IA 52242-1113

    Tel: (319) 335-9023

    Areas of Law: Consumer rights, Criminal, Disability Rights, Domestic Violence, Immigration, International Human Rights, Juvenile, and Workers' Rights.

    Good to Know: The law school offers limited legal assistance through the legal clinic, which focuses on family law, children's issues, and social security and SSI disability.

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