How to Find a Lawyer (Article)
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office)
Information to Help You Find a Lawyer
Can't get help from a free legal services program? This can be hard when you don't have enough money to pay a private lawyer. But, free legal services programs get very little money. They can only help a small number of those in need. You may not meet their financial guidelines. They may not have enough staff to handle your case.
You may still find legal help. These are some ways another lawyer may take your case, or give you advice:
- If your income slightly exceeds the limit for free legal services, you can see if you qualify for the Louisiana State Bar Association Modest Means Directory. Attorneys listed in the directory have affirmed that they charge reduced rates to eligible clients or charge less because they represent someone for just part, and not all, of a case.
- Some lawyers take cases on a "contingency" - that is, they don't charge fees up front, but only if they win your case. Most lawyers do not take criminal cases or family law (divorce, child custody, support) cases on a contingency fee basis.
- Some lawyers take cases for free (lawyers call this "pro bono").
- A lawyer may let you pay over time.
- A few non-profit advocacy groups have volunteer lawyers, or lawyers who work for their program.
- There are four law schools in Louisiana. Most have free student clinic programs where law students handle cases under a lawyer's supervision.
- On certain legal problems, some pro bono programs take direct calls for help.
Where to look for a private lawyer. These are some places to look if a free legal services program can't help:
- If your case is about rights that advocacy groups fight to protect (for example, certain Civil Liberties, Voting Rights, and so on), contact an advocacy group to see if they can find a lawyer for you. There are links to some advocacy groups on this website. Search the internet for others.
- If you live near a law school, call to find out if they have a free clinical program. What kind of case they handle depends on the program. They usually take cases during the school year only.
- Call the Louisiana State Bar Association to ask about Statewide Lawyer Referral and Information Service, at 1-800-421-LSBA (5722), or visit their webpage for local referral numbers.
- Do a quick Google search for attorneys near you who take the kind of case with which you need help. Call around. You may find a lawyer willing to take your case for free, on a "contingency," or who will let you pay over time.
- Contact the Louisiana State Bar Association and any city or parish bar [lawyer] group, to find out if they have any special programs that give free legal help.