When lawyers work for free, it is called pro bono representation or pro bono work.
The American Bar Association makes it clear that pro bono work is necessary in our society and promotes lawyers prioritizing it alongside their paid work. “When society confers the privilege to practice law on an individual, he or she accepts the responsibility to promote justice and to make justice equally accessible to all people. Thus, all lawyers should aspire to render some legal services without fee or expectation of fee for the good of the public.” They recommend “that lawyers should aspire to render–without fee–at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.” So if you are needing legal assistance but cannot afford it, woven into our society’s legal system is a safety net for you. It is not just lawyers out of work or retired and wanting to pick up a few hours who are offering few legal services- all lawyers are called to do pro bono work, and there are many organizations set up to help pair you with the right lawyer for your legal needs and budget.
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 pro bono legal assistance, so don’t hesitate to look into it.