Frequently Asked Questions
Most of the cases that we handle involve landlord/tenant, domestic violence, public benefits, and foreclosure issues. We also take some elder law cases (powers of attorney, health care proxies, wills) and cases about legal issues specific to veterans, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with breast cancer or HIV, and kinship foster care providers.
We do not take criminal cases, parking violations, probate (challenging or proving the validity of a will), surrogates court cases, and adult guardianship.
For most types of cases, we have income limits of 200% of the federal poverty guideline levels (for example, $52,400 for a family of four in 2020), although there are some exceptions. The federal government also requires us to limit our assistance to people who are citizens, have green cards, or fit into some limited exceptions, including some domestic violence victims. If you meet our income and immigration requirements, we will ask you more about your legal issue to determine if it’s an issue that our office has experience with, and if we have an attorney currently available who could help you.
After you call or submit an online application, a paralegal will ask you questions about yourself and your household, and about your legal issue. If your case looks like one that we might be able to handle, an attorney will follow up with you to have a more detailed conversation. The attorney may represent you in court or provide you with advice about your legal issue. If we cannot take your case, we will suggest other organizations that you can contact.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough staff available to help everyone who needs a lawyer. Unlike criminal cases, where there is a constitutional right to have an attorney and the government funds attorneys for every criminal defendant, there is no guaranteed right to an attorney in civil cases like housing and public benefits, and no government program that establishes enough lawyers for everyone who needs them. To find out more about our efforts to fight for a right to counsel in civil cases, click here.
Once you know that you have a legal issue, please contact our office as soon as possible so that we have enough time to prepare for court dates and meet other deadlines. Have any papers related to the case available, and make sure that you know the full names of other people involved in the case (for example, your landlord or roommates). You might want to write out some notes about what happened so that you can be sure that you tell us everything. We will need to talk directly with the person who has the legal issue, unless another person has been legally appointed power of attorney or guardian.
Yes. We have staff on-site who speak a number of languages, and we will provide a translator if we do not have staff on-site who speak your language.
We do not charge for our services.