In a majority of cases, you will need to pay a certain amount of fee for the legal services that you retain from an attorney. Depending on the service and particular attorney, the fee can be quite high. However, there is a variety of legal services that you can obtain cheaply or without even paying anything. Some of the most common ones are highlighted below.
Free legal services
When charged with a criminal offense, you have a constitutional right to be represented by a qualified attorney. If you have enough money, you can hire a lawyer of your choice to represent you. However, if you cannot afford a lawyer, you can obtain the legal services from a public defender. A judge will appoint an attorney from the office of the public defender, who will work with you for the entire duration of your case as well as through your first appeal in case you lose. There is no fee charged for the services.
Private firms and attorneys who work in private practice usually take on pro bono cases every once in a while. The services are free but are only available for individuals who do not have sufficient income. To qualify for pro bono legal services, your income must be less than 125% of the federal poverty level. A few exceptions can be made for the limits depending on the prevailing conditions.
Social justice organizations
There are some attorneys who offer free services to clients in cases that involve social justice. A majority of the cases arise from violation of freedoms and rights. Some organizations also create legal teams that are dedicated to dealing with social justice issues. The services may be offered to everyone or people from a specific community, depending on the principles of the organization. Examples of such organizations include American Civil Liberties Union and National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Law school clinics
Some law schools offer legal services through clinics that they set up. The services are usually free and offered to individuals with very low incomes. The law students will handle the most of your case, but usually under the supervision of a highly qualified and experienced attorney. The services can cover nearly all areas of law, including family law, finance, contracts, and health among many others. In addition to being free, the services have a benefit of having more than one set of eyes looking into your case.