Get Info On How To Connect With The Best Pro Bono Attorneys Near You
Hiring a lawyer is normally an expensive process. For many, the costs of a lawyer outweigh the benefits of winning a court case. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible for either free or reduced cost legal aid. One of the ways to get free legal assistance is by retaining a pro bono lawyer. When an attorney agrees to work pro bono, he or she is forfeiting any payment in exchange for taking your case. Many law firms require lawyers to take a certain number of pro bono cases each year.
In addition to pro bono lawyers, there are also federal resources available for low income individuals. One program established by Congress in 1974 is the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The LSC has offices in each state. Additionally, the American Bar Association has additional resources to find either free or reduced cost legal aid, including a directory of lawyers who take pro bono cases.
Finding a Pro Bono Attorney
Working with a pro bono attorney is more difficult than applying for free legal aid. Attorneys may be required to take a set number of pro bono cases, but the lawyer still gets to decide which cases he or she takes. Some attorneys who work pro bono set certain income requirements, but this is not always the case.
- Many lawyers decide whether or not to take a case based on who is involved. For example, some attorneys prefer to work pro bono cases against large businesses or corporations. These lawyers want to represent an underdog who lacks the same resources as a large company. There are benefits for the lawyer as well. Taking on a high-profile case is a good way for the lawyer to make a name for his or her self.
- The best way to find a pro bono lawyer is recommendation. If you know any friends or family members who worked with a pro bono attorney in the past, ask for his or her contact information. You can also call law firms in your area, inquiring whether any attorneys are currently interested in pro bono work. You can also look for nonprofit legal groups in your area for recommended pro bono attorneys.
- Be prepared to answer many questions about your case. Lawyers want even more details than usual before deciding whether to work for free. Be honest and upfront, even if your prospective lawyer asks questions relating to your finances.
Working with the LSC
Finding representation through the LSC is often easier than looking for a pro bono attorney. The LSC has set requirements you must meet to qualify for legal assistance. The main requirement is you must be 125 percent below the poverty threshold. As of writing, for a family of four, you are below the threshold if you make under $31,000. You must provide proof of income when you apply for assistance through the LSC. This includes any recent pay stubs, bank statements or tax returns.
The LSC does not employ lawyers. Instead, the organization works with law firms and nonprofit groups in the area to find legal assistance. If the lawyer does not work pro bono, he or she is paid directly by the LSC. You can use a free search system to find the nearest legal organization affiliated with the LSC.
No Win, No Fee Lawyers
Many lawyers accept a case with a no win, no fee condition. A no win, no fee lawyer is not the same as a pro bono attorney. Pro bono attorneys never take payment, no matter the result of the case. With a no win, no fee lawyer, your lawyer agrees not to charge you if you lose the case. However, if you win your case, your lawyer gets paid as normal, usually based on a percentage of your court earnings. If you are under time constraints and cannot find a pro bono attorney, working with a no win, no fee lawyer is a good alternative.
Before agreeing to work with an attorney, make sure you are on the same page regarding payment. Ask whether your lawyer will charge a flat rate, hourly fee or take a percentage of your earnings. If the lawyer charges hourly, make sure you are allowed to see a detailed list of their work. Some lawyers will attempt to charge you more by dragging out their services. Additionally, ask if there are other fees, like research or court filing expenses.
Free Legal Consultation
If you are unsure whether you have a legal case, schedule a free consultation to meet with an attorney. During a free consultation, you explain your scenario to an attorney, who advises you whether any laws were broken, if you were at fault and what steps you must take to file a case. This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions, including whether the attorney would consider working pro bono. If you want to research your issue beforehand, the Bar Association answers basic legal questions online for free.