Guide to Finding Free Lawyer

Guide to Finding Free Lawyer

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Guide to Finding Free Lawyer
How do I find a Free Lawyer?

     The protection of ones legal rights are available to everyone in the United States, however it is often the costs of legal representation that keeps people from enforcing those right.  In light of this, there may be some help for those who are seeking legal help but cannot afford to pay for it.  While the availability and types of free lawyers vary greatly, consider the following in your search:

- If you are facing criminal charges, you are typically entitled to a public defender if you can show a need. (It depends on the type of criminal charges and severity of the charges to determine if you are entitled or not)

- For civil matters, free lawyers may be available through local organizations and groups that work to provide the underrepresented in court.  Check with local bar associations and legal groups to see if such a group is available. 

     The search for a free lawyer may require some work on your part, but protecting your legal rights is very important so do not give up without first seeking all your options.  
What to tell your lawyer

     When seeking a free lawyer, it will be important to bring anything that you have that relates to the legal claim.  Any documents, medical records, police reports, or communication with the opposing party will be needed for review by the lawyer.  If your free lawyer requires that you meet certain financial requirements before working for you, bring the necessary information.  This will ensure that your case is evaluated and started as quickly as possible.  

     Make sure that you have all dates, times, and names ready for the lawyer.  You may need to double check that you have all of the facts straight before meeting with the lawyer. The more precise you can be with your description of the facts, the better your lawyer can serve you. 
Where to look for a free lawyer

     Free lawyers will often not advertise in the usual ways of advertising.  Instead, free legal services may be provided through the courts and postings may be found in local courthouses or government agencies.  You should use any resources you have available when searching for a free lawyer.  Contact local legal organizations, the State Bar Association, and any other agencies that could help lead you to a free lawyer.  The internet can provide a wealth of information in regards to legal services that may be available for you.  

     This website can provide you with a good start in your search for a free lawyer.  Use the search function at the top of the page to find and compare free lawyers in your area.  
Preparing for an appointment

     When you meet with your lawyer, make sure that you have all available documents, files, and paperwork related to your case.  If there is a police report or any medical records involved, it is important that you bring them to your lawyer or you provide enough information so that your lawyer can find them and review them.  You are going to need to give a detailed description of everything you know about your case.  Ensure that you have the correct dates, times, names, and places before meeting with your lawyer.  

     If you need assistance meeting with your lawyer, prepare to bring other trusted individuals to help you meet with your lawyer.  Family members are often your best resource for help in this regard.  
Evaluating Experience & Education

     Any lawyer that you seek will need to have graduated from an accredited law school and have passed the bar in your state.  While free lawyers can be all different types of lawyers, from expensive private lawyers fulfilling pro bono requirements or government provided lawyers, you should try to ensure you have a lawyer who is competent to represent you.  Try to find out information about your lawyer's background and experience before allowing them to work on your case.  
Personality & Values

     Even though a lawyer may be provided at no cost, do not accept any representation that you are not comfortable with.  Your lawyer should have the ability to properly file legal documents and advise you of your legal rights.  If you are not satisfied with your lawyers work, contact the agency or group that is providing your lawyer to try to work out any issues you may have.  

     You should also be able to develop a relationship with your lawyer.  Your free lawyer will have to work with you on a consistent basis and the relationship may last for months or years, depending on your case.  If you believe your lawyer is acting in an unprofessional or unethical way, contact the providing authority to assure that your rights are protected and your case is not lost due to your lawyer's actions.  
Rate and Fees

     Of course, a free lawyer will be provided without cost to their client.  However, if you find that there are no available lawyers who will work on your case without cost, there are other options depending on the type of case. 

     If you are injured in an accident or any type of personal injury case, lawyers will most often work on a contingency basis.  This means that you do not have to pay an upfront fee to the lawyer.  The lawyer will only collect a fee if they successfully win and award or bring you a monetary settlement.  These lawyers will typically take 30 to 40% of the total award as their compensation.  This can be a valuable fee structure for those who cannot afford the expensive upfront costs that legal representation often requires.  
Important questions to ask

- Make sure to ask what services your free lawyer will provide you.   

- Because free lawyers often must work on many cases at a time, ask how much time they will be able to devote to your case and how long they expect the case to go.  

- Learn the availability of your lawyer, how to contact him or her, and where they are available to meet.  You will need to know how to give them updates on changes in your situation and they will need to contact you to advise you on your case and for your decisions.  
Free Lawyer Consultation

     Free lawyer consultations are available from lawyers who are willing to initially discuss your case and advise you on how to proceed.  Often, during these free consultations, your lawyer will tell you of the steps you need to take to further your actions and what type of legal representation you will need during these steps.  A free consultation usually precedes legal work that is paid for, either by hourly, flat, or contingency rates.  Free consultations do provide legal advice, however they are usually only valuable in understanding the type of legal work you will need to have done. 

     Free lawyer services differ from free lawyer consultations because free lawyer services provide legal representation to those who cannot afford them.  Free lawyer services help the under-represented, the poor, and those who cannot care for themselves. Free lawyer services can be provided by the governments, appointed by the courts, or provided by private non-profit groups.  

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