Consumers' Guide to Legal Help
In addition to community-based legal help from legal aid and pro bono programs, some cities and states have other programs that give free legal help to clients who are elderly, disabled, members of the military, or in other special circumstances. Some of the most common types of programs are listed below.
People over 60 who live in some states have access to a free legal hotline -- a telephone service where you can speak with an attorney about legal questions or problems. Hotlines do not offer actual representation in court, but they often can refer you to a legal services program or a low-cost lawyer.
Legal services providers or private attorneys who receive funding from a local agency on aging under the Older Americans Act provide free legal services to the most socially and economically vulnerable older persons without regard to income. Legal services funded under Title IIIB of the Older Americans Act can be found online at http://www.legalhotlines.org/seniorlegalaid.php.
If you are in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911. If you want to talk to someone about an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY), or visit it online http://www.ndvh.org/index.php. Visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for a directory of organizations that provide help and support in your state. http://www.ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList_73.html
Persons with Disabilities
Each state has one or more congressionally mandated legal advocacy organization for persons with disabilities. Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies provide legal representation and other advocacy services, under all federal and state laws, to all people with disabilities, based on a system of priorities. Client Assistance Program (CAP) agencies provide information and assistance to individuals seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act, including assistance in pursuing administrative, legal and other appropriate remedies. For more information and a directory of these programs by state, visit the National Disability Rights Network.
Breast Cancer Victims
Some cities offer special free or low-fee pro bono legal services programs for victims of breast cancer. View the Breast Cancer Pro Bono Legal Referral Services Directory.
Each military service offers legal assistance to enlisted personnel and their families, but only if sufficient resources are available. Visit the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Web site for more information.
If you believe a child's safety is threatened or suspect child abuse, you can obtain information on reporting such abuse at http://www.capsli.org/issues.php#reporting. Many communities also have special programs to assist children. View the Directory of Pro Bono Children's Law Programs (PDF).