What Happens if a Person Can’t Afford a Lawyer – How to Get Legal Help with No Money

Two Professionals Going Over a Document | What Happens if a Person Can't Afford a Lawyer?

There may be a variety of reasons you’re searching to find legal help without it costing you an arm and a leg. You may have no cash on hand, or your money is tied up in the very legal issue you’re battling, or you’re embarking on a divorce and you don’t know what you’ll be left with, or you have recently experienced a tragedy in the family that’s left you lost at where and how to pick up the pieces and with no clue as to the financial status of the situation. 

One of the easiest ways to find out if you can qualify for free legal help is to see if your income bracket is low enough. In the state of Michigan, you must qualify for Legal Aid through your income bracket to access pro bono representation. In order to get in touch with a local attorney for pro bono work, you can contact Legal Aid of Western Michigan at (616) 774-0672 or go to www.legalaidwestmich.org. They will evaluate your income and then get you a referral through the Legal Aid Pro Bono Program.

It doesn’t cost you anything to see if you qualify for this pro bono legal assistance, so don’t hesitate to look into it. 

Another way to find pro bono legal assistance is through websites such as Law Help.org’s List of Pro Bono Legal Services by State. Once you select a state, you will see everything from resources to toolkits, articles for specific issues, links to connect with local legal assistants, and recommendations for local organizations that offer assistance for particular issues. 

Other sites, like the U.S. Justice Department, have lists for specific legal issues, such as immigration-specific services, where people needing those specific services can go for free. For other legal issues, such as worker’s compensation when injured on the job, have a variety of businesses that offer free legal consultations and a variety of services that don’t cost you unless you win your lawsuit (this is called a “contingency fee”). Be sure to do a search on your topic with keywords such as “free legal services” since many causes, through private or public funding, have their own ways of connecting you to free lawyers including organizations for military servicemembers such as ABA Home Front Directory of Programs or LGBTQ+ advocacy like GLAAD and TransQuality.org.

If you’re still lost on where to begin, the American Bar Association runs a website called Free Legal Answers. It is a “virtual legal advice clinic” where “qualifying users post their civil legal question to their state’s website, or to the federal site for immigration and federal veterans’ questions. Users will then be emailed when their question receives a response. Attorney volunteers, who must be authorized to provide pro bono assistance in their state, log in to the website, select questions to answer, and provide legal information and advice.”