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Get a lawyer

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There is a lot of legal information available online and many examples of Ask MetaFilter questions in Law & Government, Human Relations, Work & Money and Home & Garden where a common response is "get a lawyer." This page contains information you may find helpful if you ask a question and receive the response "get a lawyer."

"Get a lawyer" is encouragement to find an attorney for confidential legal advice about your specific situation. It can be unwise and potentially harmful to answer legal questions with information obtained only from the internet, because answers to legal questions often depend on the facts of your case and laws that may vary by state, county and city.

Many questions confront an individual who needs to consult with an attorney, including: How do you find an attorney that practices in the area you need help with? How can you tell if an attorney is qualified or not? How much does it cost? Do attorneys in this field work on contingency? Are there ways to consult an attorney when you don't have a lot of money?

The sections below answer these questions with general information and links to resources that may be helpful to you.

At this time all information is U.S.-specific unless otherwise noted.

Basic information about attorneys

An attorney is licensed to practice law1 by the highest court of a state and regulated by a state bar association or licensing agency2.

An attorney can provide confidentiality of information3 for clients, and may represent clients in court, provide legal advice, and draft important legal instruments such as wills, trusts, deeds and contracts. Contrary to the media image of attorneys, legal work is often focused on research and drafting documents.

The American Bar Association offers general guidance on when to consult with an attorney.

1      American Bar Association. Appendix A: State Definitions of the Practice of Law. Task Force on the Model Definition of the Practice of Law, 2003.

2      American Bar Association. Directory of Lawyer Disciplinary Agencies. Center for Professional Responsibility, September 2014.

3      American Bar Association. Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Information.

Finding an attorney

State bar associations usually publish a lawyer directory online that can be searched by location and the type of case, and some state or local bar associations offer low-cost consultations as part of a referral service. Findlaw offers a list of state and local bar associations.

Attorneys often have areas of focus for their practice, such as business law, criminal law, family law, personal injury, wills/trusts, etc. When looking for an attorney, it is important to contact an attorney or law firm that has experience with your legal issues.

Consumer Reports suggests legal specialty groups, which may offer searchable online directories to help find a lawyer, including:

Other groups that may be able to help you find an attorney include local associations organized by identity, including:

One way to find a local association is to use a search engine for the name of your identity, "bar association" and the name of your state or city.

Finding a qualified attorney

Official state bar association directories published online may contain information about attorneys, including public disciplinary records, areas of practice, how long the attorney has been licensed, and whether the attorney has malpractice insurance. Findlaw offers an overview of questions to ask an attorney before hiring them, and how to check disciplinary records.

There are many unofficial attorney ranking services online, all of which are to be taken with a grain of salt. One well-known service is Avvo, which is a free website that claims to offer ratings and profiles of over 95% of US lawyers. These profiles include client reviews, peer reviews and public disciplinary records for the attorney.

Once you have a list of attorneys who practice in the area you need assistance in, write a short (2-3 paragraph) narrative of what happened. Write a 2-3 sentence explanation of the outcome you want. Write a short list of immediate questions to ask (Do you handle these cases? What is your fee? Do you have payment plans? If you can't help, do you know someone who can?). Set aside a couple hours and start making calls.

When you call an attorney's office, you will likely get an intake person on the phone, not the attorney. The intake person will first take basic information from you, and may or may not run a "conflict check" during the intake to make sure the attorney is not representing an opposing party or anyone related to your case. The intake person will then want your 2-3 paragraph explanation of what happened; your 2-3 sentence description of the outcome you want; your phone number and possibly an email address.

The intake person may or may not be able to answer your questions and may or may not ask you to fax or email legal documents that have been served upon you. The intake person will probably ask you some questions. The intake person will either say "We do not handle this sort of case" at which point you ask for a referral; or they will say "The attorney will return your phone call within X hours/days." It's possible the intake person will set up an appointment for you to visit the office. If not, you will set that up when you talk to the attorney. In most instances you will not be charged for this intake phone call or the intake appointment.

During the intake appointment with the attorney, you will be asked very pointed questions. The attorney will likely give you legal advice, including an assessment of what your likely outcomes are, and how long it's likely to take. According to the American Bar Association, you should "beware of any lawyer who guarantees a big settlement or assures a victory in court."

The attorney will show you an engagement letter that outlines the terms of hiring the attorney, including fee and expenses. You will either agree to hire that attorney or not. If you don't like the attorney or if you simply want to continue interviewing attorneys, talk to someone else. You can always call back and say, "hey, we met last week and I did not hire you, but after checking around I think you're the best for the job, are you available to take the case?"

You should speak to more than one attorney before you hire one. You should not hire an attorney who treats you rudely or with disrespect in an intake interview. You should not hire an attorney who does not promptly respond to a request for information about their services. If more than one attorney tells you to go to a different county or tells you to drop it, you should strongly consider taking that advice.

Once you've hired an attorney, you should expect regular updates on the case. You should also expect prompt return calls from the office if not necessarily the attorney. You should respect the attorney's time, as your time should also be respected, and if your attorney asks for information or documents from you, don't delay in providing them.

If you really feel your attorney is not responsive, not respectful, or not advocating for you, tell your attorney. If you do not get an adequate response to that concern, start the process over, being sure to tell the new attorneys you call that you will be asking them to substitute into litigation already in progress. The American Bar Association offers information about options that may exist if you are not satisfied with your attorney.

Legal representation on a contingency fee basis

In some types of cases, attorneys are willing to handle matters on a "contingency basis." A contingency fee agreement can allow individuals who have been injured (e.g. damages resulting from an auto accident or medical malpractice) to obtain legal representation even if they do not have money to pay a lawyer at the outset of a case.

The American Bar Association describes a contingency fee as an arrangement where the lawyer gets paid for their services "only if the lawyer handles a case successfully," but "win or lose, you probably will have to pay court filing fees, the costs related to deposing witnesses, and similar charges." Any obligation to pay should be described in the written retainer agreement that you sign at the beginning of the case.

As a general rule, personal injury litigation, Workers' Compensation and SSI/SSDI appeals are frequently handled on a contingency basis, but commercial disputes rarely are. Most jurisdictions prohibit working for a contingency fee in family law or criminal cases, as suggested in Rule 1.5(d) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct by the American Bar Association.

Free or low-cost avenues for legal assistance

Legal Aid and Public Interest


The American Bar Association offers a directory of free and low-cost legal services for each state. and the Legal Services Corporation offer searchable directories of free services. LawHelp is a nonprofit organization that provides referrals to local legal aid and public interest law offices, as well as basic information about legal rights, court forms, self-help information, links to social service agencies and more in every state. Many states have legal aid programs that offer free telephone advice, legal clinics and representation for eligible clients.

Legal aid usually handles cases involving domestic violence, family law, housing, and public benefits (welfare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, SSI, or Social Security). Many legal aid offices may be able to handle other problems including immigration, consumer, and disability issues. Some legal aid offices focus on one area of law, such as disability law, or housing law.

If free (pro bono) legal services are not available, you may be referred to attorneys who take cases like yours at a reduced rate (low bono) through "Moderate Means" or "Modest Means" programs. You may also be able to obtain free legal services from a clinical program at a law school in your state. To find contact information for a law school's clinical program, find a law school near you and google its name and "clinical program."

The American Bar Association also has a list of innovative programs that offer low-cost or free legal services.


In the UK, legal aid can help pay for legal assistance in a variety of cases, and there are different legal aid rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Rights of Women offers free telephone legal advice to women in England and Wales on a wide range of legal issues including domestic violence, child contact, sexual violence and the criminal justice process, immigration and asylum as well as other legal issues arising from relationship breakdown. Free legal advice is also available for women in England and Wales experiencing sexual harassment at work.


In Australia, Legal Aid is legal assistance provided by the government. In addition, there are almost 200 Community Legal Centres (CLCs) across Australia that provide legal assistance to those who are not able to afford legal assistance but are unable to obtain assistance from Legal Aid.

Unbundled Legal Services

Unbundled legal services (also known as limited scope or discrete task representation) may be a more affordable option in states that allow attorneys to represent clients for only part of the case. When you interview attorneys, you can ask if they offer unbundled legal services, which may include representation at a mediation session, negotiation and drafting a settlement agreement, and limited court appearances.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be an affordable option for many cases, and some attorneys may be willing to represent you in a mediation or other ADR session to help make sure your legal interests are protected. It can be helpful to consult with an attorney about whether ADR is an appropriate option for your case, and to obtain advice about how to protect your legal interests during the ADR process.

Other Options

Another low-cost option for legal services is to hire an attorney only for advice and consultation, which can include assistance with court paperwork and advice on how to prepare for a court hearing. Many people represent themselves (pro se) in court, and some attorneys may offer consultations to assist clients with getting ready for court and making sure that court documents comply with local and state rules.

Many lawyers offer free first consultations as a way to bring business to their door, and may spend time going over your situation and options, without charge, to help you decide if you need to hire a lawyer. If you ask friends and acquaintances for attorney recommendations, mention the name of the friend or acquaintance - and your desire for a free first consultation - when you call.

Additional Resources

The specific circumstances of your case may qualify you for additional free or low-cost legal assistance and services. The following is an overview of assistance and services that may be available due to the nature of your case:


Some organizations and law schools offer free or low-cost legal clinics for artists, including:

California: The Art & Entertainment Law Project law clinic of the Small Business Law Center at Thomas Jefferson School of Law provides free legal services for low-income artists, actors, dancers, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and related non-profit organizations.

Colorado: The Artists’ and Inventors’ Legal Clinic offers pro bono and sliding scale fee legal services in all areas of artistic and inventive endeavor: movies, music, publishing, visual arts, fashion, industrial designs, prototyping, testing, financing, manufacturing, marketing, distribution.

Georgia: Georgia Lawyers for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance and educational programming to artists and arts organizations.

Illinois: Lawyers for the Creative Arts offers pro bono legal help to financially eligible applicants with arts-related legal matters in all disciplines of the literary, performing and visual arts and in many, but not all, areas of law.

Maryland: Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts offers a $5 Art Law Clinic.

New York: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts assists low income artists with arts-related legal issues.

Pennsylvania: Penn State Law School offers an Arts, Sports and Entertainment Law Clinic.

Tennessee: Vanderbilt Law School offers an Intellectual Property and the Arts Clinic.

Texas: The Texas Commission on the Arts offers free legal advice at an Art Law Clinic.

Washington: Washington Lawyers for the Arts sponsors legal clinics where artists and arts professionals can make 30-minute appointments with attorneys who specialize in arts and entertainment law.

In addition, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (located in NY) is not associated with any of the organizations listed, but offers a national directory of volunteer lawyers for the arts in areas outside of the New York region as a courtesy to the arts community.

Bias / Hate Crimes

Safe Horizon is a victim assistance organization that offers support and promotes justice for all victims of crime and abuse, including victims of hate crimes. These services include counseling, advocacy and safety planning and are available to anyone regardless of their immigration status. Need help? Call the 24-hour hotline (llámenos para ayudarle) 1-800-621-HOPE (4673). If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Safe Horizon also offers one-on-one online chat sessions at SafeChat Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except for holidays.

Stop AAPI Hate encourages all who have witnessed or experienced anti-Asian American and Pacific islander micro-aggressions, discrimination, bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence in California and throughout the US to report it on their website. Resources include What to Do When You See or Experience COVID 19 Hate and a social media toolkit.

Hate Crime Help offers an online form that can locate "resources that can help you, including local and regional law enforcement, non-profit organizations, and organizations that record data about hate crimes and bias incidents," and is described as "a free and privacy-geared website aimed to make it far easier for victims to report incidents of hate and find local support."

Civil Rights

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and offers a searchable directory of staffed offices in every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that can be contacted to request legal assistance.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) works to ensure that the civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are applied to cutting edge communication technologies, and offers information about how to request legal assistance.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) offers an online directory of lawyers that can be searched by location and field of concentration, including the rights of workers, women, LGBTQ people, farmers, people with disabilities, those who seek actively to eliminate racism, and those who work to maintain and protect civil rights and liberties.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is currently focused on civil rights impact litigation in the Deep South in these areas: Immigrant Justice, Children’s Rights, LGBT Rights, Economic Justice, Criminal Justice Reform and cases against hate groups. A request for assistance within the SPLC practice areas can be made through an online form.

Public Justice’s cases typically involve suits against irresponsible corporations, the government, or powerful individuals for outrageous conduct that has resulted in injury. Public Justice uses litigation to fight for consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and civil liberties, the environment, clean air and water, public health and safety, corporate and government accountability, and access to justice. Public Justice weighs a variety of factors when determining whether to become involved in a potential case, but the primary consideration is the potential public interest impact of the case. To ask for a lawyer, submit a request by mail, fax, or email.

Consumer Rights

The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is "a nationwide membership organization of more than 1500 attorneys who represent hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive, and predatory business practices," and offers a searchable online attorney directory. Information is also available on the website about Arbitration, Auto Issues, Bankruptcy, Credit Reporting, Debt Collection, Identity Theft, Military Consumers, Mortgage, Real Estate & Housing, Predatory Lending, Robocalls & Telemarketing, and Student Loans. The website also offers a series of debt defense videos with information on how to handle interactions with debt collectors and other debt issues.

Public Justice’s cases typically involve suits against irresponsible corporations, the government, or powerful individuals for outrageous conduct that has resulted in injury. Public Justice uses litigation to fight for consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and civil liberties, the environment, clean air and water, public health and safety, corporate and government accountability, and access to justice. Public Justice weighs a variety of factors when determining whether to become involved in a potential case, but the primary consideration is the potential public interest impact of the case. To ask for a lawyer, submit a request by mail, fax, or email.

Crime Victims

The National Crime Victim Bar Association offers an attorney referral service that refers crime victims to attorneys to help them with personal injury lawsuits. Crime victims can call 202-467-8716 or (844) 529-4357, or email, or request an attorney referral through an online form.

Criminal Defense

According to the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), there is a constitutional right to counsel if you are facing a possible sentence of jail or prison, even if you cannot afford to pay an attorney.

To find a free criminal defense attorney, check the phone directory for a public defender office in your area, or call your local bar association, or ask the judge or other court or jail official in your case, or review the list of links maintained by NLADA to find a public defender office near you.

If you are unable to find a defender through the phone directory, internet, bar association, or court, you can call or e-mail NLADA at or 202-452-0620.

Further reading: The National Bail Fund Network offers a directory of criminal system bail funds that are freeing people by paying bail/bond.

Further reading: Wrongful Conviction and Prisoner Rights


The Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) is a national nonprofit organization that provides legal services and referrals regarding disability rights, cancer, special education, and other disability-related legal issues. An online intake form is available, and the intake line can be reached at (213) 736-1334, or toll free at (866) 999-3752 (DRLC), by TTY (213) 736-8310, or video relay at (213) 908-1079.

The Disability Rights Bar Association (DRBA) has several resources for non-attorneys with disability discrimination concerns, including member profile pages. The DRBA cannot guarantee that a member will be able to assist you, but you can send an email to one of the members with your name, contact information, and a short statement of the issue for which you seek assistance. The DRBA also offers links to additional resources for legal assistance.

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) maintains a directory of legally based advocacy organizations for each state and U.S. territory. The NDRN is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) in every state and U.S. territory.

Disability Rights Advocates is a nonprofit organization that takes cases involving wide-spread systemic civil rights violations that affect a large group of people with disabilities, and maintains a list of legal resources for individuals (mostly based in California, but includes some national links).

The Center for Disability Rights is a not-for-profit, community-based advocacy and service organization for people with all types of disabilities that partners with Disability Rights activists across the city, state, and country in order to achieve the goal of independence, integration, and civil rights of all people with disabilities.

Education-A-Must maintains a list of attorneys and advocates for children with special needs in education.


For people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and considering an application for SSI or SSDI, there is a fast-track application process through the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) program. Local legal aid organizations may be able to make a referral, or you can review the contact list for your state to find organizations with SOAR advocates.

For SSI/SSDI appeals, legal aid organizations may be able to represent eligible clients for free, and other attorneys may take cases on a contingency fee basis. Legal aid and other attorneys may be available to offer quick advice related to SSI/SSDI questions. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) offers a lawyer referral service at 1-800-431-2804 and online, as well as information about Social Security Basics.

Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws require all state and local governmental entities, including the courts, to provide reasonable accommodations for the needs of persons with disabilities. Your court may have an ADA Coordinator to help with obtaining free services, such as equipment, devices, materials in alternative formats, and qualified interpreters or readers. Assistance with requests for a reasonable accommodation may also be available from a local disability rights advocacy organization.

According to information published by the Disability Rights Bar Association, the U.S. Department of Justice "allows you to file an ADA complaint against a State or local government or a public accommodation by mail or e-mail. The process is outlined, and frequently asked questions are answered on the ADA Government Fact Sheet How to File an ADA Complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice []. E-mail is preferred as all mail to the DOJ must go through an extensive screening process. If you have questions about filing an ADA complaint, you can call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY)."

The ADA National Network offers confidential informal guidance on ADA issues at 1-800-949-4232 (toll free Voice or TTY), by email and at regional centers. "ADA Specialists can answer most questions immediately and, if necessary, will research complex questions to provide you the most thorough guidance possible. Referrals to local and state/territory resources for disability issues, which are not addressed by the ADA, can also be provided."

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers free, confidential one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. Assistance is available by phone at (800) 526-7234 (Voice), (877) 781-9403 (TTY), online via livechat, email, other methods, and en Español.

Disaster Assistance

National Disaster Legal Aid offers legal resources for those directly affected by a disaster; this includes general information helpful to disaster relief on housing, insurance claims, insurance, employment, and other vital issues.

Domestic Violence

Anyone who is concerned for their safety or the safety of others because of a family member, partner, spouse, household member, etc., can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hotline operators are specially trained and can provide resources, help with options to stay safe or just listen.

Local organizations may be able to help with finding free or low-cost legal assistance and may have legal advocates to help with court paperwork and navigating the court process. is a project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence that offers a variety of resources, including an email hotline for questions about how to find help, legal information for every state and information about finding a lawyer for domestic violence cases.

See also: Online Harassment and Abuse

Additional support resources and hotlines are listed at the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page.

Elder Law

The U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) offers information about Area Agencies on Aging and a telephone referral service at (800) 677-1116 for a variety of resources, including supportive and caretaker services, elder justice and health promotion programs.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) offers a searchable online Eldercare locator that includes legal assistance and Elder Abuse Prevention resources.

The Center for Elder Rights Advocacy (CERA) offers a directory of legal assistance programs in each state.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) offers an online member directory that can be searched by location.

Employment / Unemployment

The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) is a national professional organization of attorneys who represent employees in employment law cases and offers a searchable Find-A-Lawyer directory on their website.

The National Employment Law Project offers legal information on a variety of worker rights issues, including COVID-19 Resources for Unemployed and Frontline Workers that includes information and links to a variety of resources, including a searchable directory from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to help find free legal services.

More information and links to help find free legal services are available above in the Legal Aid and Public Interest section of this page.

The American Federation of Teachers "makes it easy for members and their families to get the legal help they need to avoid and solve legal problems—and usually for free! One toll-free call or visit to the Web puts you in touch with a nationwide network law offices that offer free 30-minute consultations and discounted services."

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union has a long-standing commitment to eliminate unsafe and unhealthy working conditions in all RWDSU workplaces, and can help workers understand, identify, and deal with these issues, including by providing assistance and resources; whether legal, educational or technical.

Public Justice’s cases typically involve suits against irresponsible corporations, the government, or powerful individuals for outrageous conduct that has resulted in injury. Public Justice uses litigation to fight for consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and civil liberties, the environment, clean air and water, public health and safety, corporate and government accountability, and access to justice. Public Justice weighs a variety of factors when determining whether to become involved in a potential case, but the primary consideration is the potential public interest impact of the case. To ask for a lawyer, submit a request by mail, fax, or email.

Towards Justice is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to advance economic justice through impact litigation, by helping workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. They use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. They have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. They also challenge anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement. A free and confidential intake to ask for help is available online in English and en Español.


According to the American Bar Association, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation has a national hotline for individuals facing foreclosure at (888) 995-HOPE and links to additional resources.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the only legal association in the United States for immigration attorneys. More than 15,000 immigration lawyers can be found by type of case, language spoken, city, state, country or zip code in the online searchable directory on the website.

Free or Low-Cost Legal Services is a searchable online directory of over 940 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services providers in all 50 states. Users can search by state, county, or detention facility, and refine searches by types and areas of legal assistance provided, populations served, languages spoken, other areas of legal assistance, and non-legal services provided.

The Immigration Advocates Network offers a National Immigration Legal Services Directory that is a searchable directory of immigration legal services providers by state, county, or detention facility. Only nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost immigration legal services are included. If you have questions, please consult the list of frequently asked questions or email

IMMI helps immigrants in the U.S. understand their legal options, and offers an online screening tool, legal information, and referrals to nonprofit legal services organizations that are always free to use. Immi was created by the Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing access to justice for low-income immigrants. The website is also available en Español.

CLINIC offers Emergency Planning for Immigrant Families: A 50-State Resource that includes a searchable online affiliate map and directory, and an Emergency Planning Guide. CLINIC urges all undocumented immigrants to register with their local consulates and learn more about the resources their consulates can offer them.

CLINIC has also compiled a list of legal resources for reuniting families, including but not limited to the VERA Institute of Justice Immigration Project Connection (ICON), a resource for parents who have been separated from their children — as well as for the attorneys for these parents — to locate and connect with the legal service providers working with their children.

According to the News Tribune on July 14, 2019, "Unlicensed immigration consultants, commonly known as notarios in Latin American communities, can cause serious harm to an immigrant’s legal case, experts say. This could be anyone who provides immigration-related services for a fee but who is not authorized to provide any sort of legal aid. “Fear, need and anxiety are driving people to try to find some legal help,” said Rigo Reyes, the executive director of Los Angeles County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Immigrants are pushed to “find someone who’s going to give them the answer they want to hear, even if it’s not real,” he said."

Immigration Bond Funds

The National Bail Fund Network offers a Directory of Community Bail Funds that includes Immigration Bond Funds.

The Freedom for Immigrants National Immigration Detention Bond Fund provides each individual that it bonds out with critical legal and wrap-around services through its proven case management program to document, support, and enhance the likelihood of success for their case.

Know Your Rights

The ACLU, working with Brooklyn Defender Services, has created a “Know Your Rights” page for encounters with ICE that includes videos in Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Russian, and Mandarin to help understand your rights: When ICE is Outside our Doors, Inside Our Homes, In Our Communities, In Our Streets, If ICE Arrest Us.

CLINIC offers Know Your Rights: A Collection of Resources, including Know Your Rights cards in a variety of languages that can be presented to agents, full Know Your Rights Guides in a variety of languages with information that includes how to interact with agents, how to read a warrant, emergency planning checklists, and what to do if a loved one is detained.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has created a series of Red Cards in multiple languages to help people assert their rights and defend themselves in many situations, such as when ICE agents go to a home. Information about how to use Red Cards when confronted by immigration agents is available here.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA) offers a variety of educational resources, including a Know Your Rights and Prepare a Family Plan flier in English and Spanish, and a List of Important Documents and Information in English and Spanish. Este video fue producido por CHIRLA con el propósito de ofrecer educación referente a redadas de inmigración o preguntas que haga la policía acerca de nuestro estado migratorio. CHIRLA has also produced an English-language know-your-rights video.

According to the Associated Press on June 22, 2019, activists have stepped up trainings amid Trump deportation threats, with a focus on rights that apply to anyone, regardless of citizenship status: the right to remain silent; refusing officers entry into a home; not signing anything without legal representation; asking agents for arrest or search warrant paperwork from a judge. See Also ‘Every day, it is a risk’: immigrant communities paralyzed by fear of impending ICE raids (Guardian, July 12, 2019)


The Freedom for Immigrants National Immigration Detention Hotline is the nation’s largest immigration detention hotline; it connects immigrants in detention to their family, resources, and abuse documentation support at no cost to them. It is staffed by a team of highly trained multilingual advocates, and services may include connecting people in detention to visitor volunteers and sponsors, to their freedom through a bond program, and to post-release support through an accompaniment program. Callers can also be connected to lawyers and other resources. Call: 209-757-3733 Monday through Friday from 6 am to 8 pm PST. The online support request form is available here. El formulario de solicitud de apoyo en Español es aqui.

American Gateways is a nonprofit legal services provider offering help to everyone who meets income guidelines and case priorities. If you or a loved one is currently facing deportation or immigration detention, please call the Línea de Defensa Comunitaria/Deportation Crisis Hotline: (512) 270-1515. If you or a family member or friend is detained and in need of services, please call (512) 478-0546 extension 204 and leave a message with the name of the detainee, the facility where they are detained and the A# (alien registration number) of the detained individual.

The California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice has created 24/7 rapid response hotlines staffed by immigration professionals. If you see an ICE Raid, you can contact the local number, and they will try to dispatch a lawyer: LA County 888-624-4752 • San Francisco 415-200-1458 • Sacramento, Placer, Yolo Counties 916-245-6773 • San Diego 619-536-0823 • Boyle Heights 323-922-5644 • Fresno, San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus, and Kern Counties 559-206-0151 • Marin County 415-991-4545 • Monterey County 831-643-5225 • Sonoma/Napa Counties 707-800-4544 • Santa Clara County 408-290-1144 • Santa Cruz County 831-239-4289 • Alameda County 510-241-4011 • San Mateo County 203-NO-MIGRA • Bay Area and NorCal generally - SIREN Rapid Response TEXT ONLY for Members: 201-468-6088, TEXT ONLY for Allies: 918-609-4480.

The Mexican government has created a 24-hour hotline (1-855-4636-395) to help answer questions for Mexicans in the United States. Consulates have also been distributing fliers detailing what to do if someone is approached by deportation agents - advising DO NOT open your door without proof of a warrant and DO NOT speak to officers without a lawyer. (NYT 2017).

RAICES offers a “National Families Together Hotline” at (866)-ESTAMOS (866-378-2667) to help reunite families who have been separated upon entry to the United States. The hotline is staffed by volunteers from 9am - 5pm CST but callers can call and leave voicemails 24 hours a day. Volunteers have been trained to gather the information necessary to help reunite families, including to search for a parent with all known variations of their names and other indicators.

Immigration Equality is an LGBTQ rights organization that offers an online form to apply for free legal assistance and a legal emergency hotline on weekdays at (212) 714-2904.


The Digital Media Law Project offers general information about finding legal help and operates the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), a free (pro bono) legal referral service for prospective clients that meet the network's eligibility criteria.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers a Legal Defense Hotline at 1-800-336-4243 to journalists and media lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Non-emergency requests or questions about services and publications are answered during normal office hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern).


The LGBT Bar cannot give legal counsel or recommend attorneys, but one of their affiliates may be able to help. Visit the State and Local LGBTQ+ Bar Affiliates page to find a bar association in your area.

The LGBT Family Law Institute® (FLI) is a joint venture of the LGBT Bar and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. To find attorneys, search the Family Law Attorney Directory.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) offers free and confidential information, assistance, and referrals by email and phone. GLAD also offers a Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) to help find attorneys in New England.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights offers a Legal Helpline at 1.800.528.6257 or 415.392.6257 for LGBTQ+ legal questions and an optional online webform.

Lambda Legal’s Help Desk offers information and resources regarding LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Immigration Equality offers legal assistance and information pertaining to immigration.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund offers free legal assistance regarding name and gender changes through their Name Change Project.

GLAD's Transgender ID Project is offering free legal assistance to Transgender people living in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Vermont) seeking to update their legal name and gender on federal and state documents. In addition, if you experience any legal barriers because of a delay in being able to complete a name or gender change, or if you have other questions or concerns, you can contact GLAD Answers at for information, assistance, and referrals.

The Transgender Law Center offers a Legal Information Helpline to provide basic information about laws and policies that affect transgender people, including employment, health care, housing, civil rights, immigration, prisoners’ rights, and identity document changes, and can make referrals to other resources and members of their pro bono network of attorneys.

Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Legal Resource Service offers referrals to attorneys in the areas of law often needed by people with mental health conditions and can be reached by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., ET, or by email at The NAMI HelpLine has volunteer attorneys and legal interns to help callers who need legal expertise or a referral to an attorney in their community, but does not provide individual casework, legal representation or other types of individual advocacy. To request a referral, call the NAMI HelpLine and ask to leave a message for the legal intern.

Additional support resources and hotlines are listed at the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page.

Military / Veterans

The American Bar Association offers information about legal programs available to servicemembers and their families. Programs listed include military legal assistance offices, legal aid and pro bono organizations, lawyer referral and information services, and military-specific programs where available. is a nonprofit organization that offers legal help for military members, veterans and their families, including an online directory of free and fee-based legal assistance that can be searched by location.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program (MAP) is a collaborative effort between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Legal Assistance Offices (LAO) of the United States military Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps to assist servicemembers and their families with complex immigration legal issues.

Online Harassment and Abuse

The Online Harassment Field Manual (PEN America) offers resources related to Legal Considerations, including to provide information and support to targets of online abuse who are considering contacting law enforcement or enlisting the help of a lawyer: When to Report Online Harassment to Law Enforcement, Documenting Your Online Harassment, and links to Legal Resources.

See also: Revenge Porn

See also: Additional support resources are available in the Online Harassment and Abuse section of the ThereIsHelp page.

Prisoner Rights

The National Prison Project of the ACLU is dedicated to ensuring U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers comply with requirements of the U.S. Constitution, federal law, and international human rights principles, and the majority of NPP's litigation involves claims of deficient medical and/or mental health care. Other litigation priorities include excessive force cases and cases against abuse, assault, retaliation, and other forms of torture during incarceration.

Revenge Porn

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative maintains a list of US and UK attorneys who may be able to assist victims with cases on a free or low-cost basis, and a variety of online resources for victims. In addition, the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project offers free legal services and cyberforensic investigation services to victims worldwide.

Student Loans

According to the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), there are limited legal resources to assist student loan borrowers, but some options exist, including programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and ombudsman programs. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published a warning about companies charging fees for student loan services that are offered for free by the government. Free government services include income-based repayment plans and ways to get out of default.

Telemedicine Abortion

The SIA Legal Team offers a confidential and anonymous legal help line at (844) 868-2812 for people who fear being questioned by police or run into any legal trouble when trying to obtain a telemedicine abortion.


The National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (NWLDEF) Whistleblower Legal Assistance Program provides confidential referrals to lawyers who are interested in representing whistleblowers. If you do not wish to submit the referral intake form online, you may print it out, fill in the answers and send it via postal service.

Wrongful Conviction

The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations that provide pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes, and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. A searchable member directory is available.

The Innocence Project works to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing but is not equipped to handle case applications or inquiries by email or over the phone. However, the Innocence Project offers online forms on their website to apply for legal assistance.

AskMe Threads

Examples of AskMe threads where "get a lawyer" is a response, legal and other resources are suggested, and MeFites help identify issues to raise with an attorney:


Legal structures for a four-person partnership?

Does my very small business need a lawyer?

I need help lawyering up

How do I go about finding a reasonably good lawyer and CPA in Massachusetts for a small business?

resources to learn about online revenue for a blog/site

How should I plan to protect my husband and his assets from myself?

Copyright Troll Legal Notice

What court would I use for a DMCA lawsuit?

I am not a writer but need to create a manual

Their lovin' don't pay my bills (freelancer)

Can I bargain with the IRS?

Paying IRS LLC Back Taxes, please help!

Is Google Drive a safe spot for secure information?

Should I Be Worried? - Copyright advice for small business

I am looking for a fast and cheap way to have an NDA reviewed - includes NDA 101 by AgentRocket

Civil Rights

Discrimination based on family status

Suing a public university for 1) age, 2) race, 3) sex, or 4) disability

Landlord question: "Service animals" ... could it be that we are exempt?

apartment doesn't allow pets, need one for depression

How to deal with selective enforcement by an HOA?

Remedy for a racially discriminatory landlord?

Reasonable accommodations in court

Consumer / Debt

My sister co-signed a student loan. The debtor won't pay anything, and she has now been paying $200/mo for five years. Does she have any recourse?

Should I settle with a bill collector?

Need help fighting sleazy collection lawyers

You're suing me for WHAT???

We're getting sued (credit card)

Bankrupt - includes novel time with bswinburn

Bank won't finance our home builder, can he win if he sues us?

Car has been in the shop for 4 months. We just want it back.

I haven’t filed my taxes for an obscenely long time

Criminal / Traffic

Should I contact the FBI, even if I don't have any evidence?

Do I give back a lot of money that no one will ever ask for?

Should I sign over this check?

At what point have I committed a crime?

Misdemeanor sexual battery

My friend has a persistent stalker who is not getting the message.

Quasi-urgent legal question about a recent arrest of a friend

Central Booking DWI help NYC

How much is my freedom worth? (DWI)

What do I plea, and how do I plea it? (traffic ticket)

not usually a speed demon

Writing a letter to Judge to plead leniency

Background check on rapist - if and how

When to take your eyes off the medical issue and focus on the legal one?

Disability / Elder / Public Benefits

What should I look for in an attorney for the terminally ill?

How Can I Cope With Being a Primary Caregiver?

My mentally ill aunt is trying to manipulate my 95-year-old grandmother

Should I accept power of attorney for my parents?

The truth is, Mom I just don't like you.

In a real pickle with SSI without representation

Social Security Disability Applications

How to catch up & possibly get ahead financially

Helping my mom get disability

Requested SSDI hearing, benefits stopped anyway

Disability lawyer fiasco, I need to know my options

How can I approach HR on this ridiculous pay stub issue (SSDI)

Las Vegas -- Real Estate -- For Housing, Not Investment (SSI)

Cessation of SSI after inheritance?

Insurance help with Medicare/SSDI

Help me understand Disability benefits (social security)?

Possibly losing Medicaid... how to proceed?

How to fight the Baker Act? (civil commitment)

Social Security for my mom

I think my mom needs to go out on disability, how do I help her do it?


Daughter Asking About Drug History Questionnaire

Should a lawyer sign an NDA for a job interview?

Need a lawyer for employment contract review; how much should that cost?

You Can't Fine Me Because I Quit! Or Can You?

How to deal with a hostile but passive aggressive coworker?

Is this kind of professional grooming the norm?

Am I fooling myself in that I can get justice?

How far should I take this complaint? (sexual harassment)

Employer reveals they've been inadvertently underpaying me for years

Lawyer needed in Boston before quitting job

Recovering expense funds from former employer

Former Employee Asked To Testify In Lawsuit

contacting employment lawyer

Leap with a soft landing: how to request moving to part time?

Is a contract requiring free work illegal?


Divorce in the UK

How to navigate a potential divorce - includes a taxonomy of divorce attorneys by jayder.

Sister's husband filing for divorce. When does she need her own lawyer?

Getting divorced. Lawyer or mediation?

How to live with someone you're afraid of provoking?

What to do after domestic violence?

what to do when husband refuses to go to counseling?

How to deal with husband's pseudocheating and inadequate remorse?

Resources for surviving emotional abuse

Abusive Father Turned Stalker

Possible Single Mom.

Deadbeat suddenly wants to parent

Navigating the world of child custody... with a dysfunctional coparent

Dealing with the stress of a court process which may take time?

How would you interpret Right of First Refusal in this circumstance

Contempt of Court Questions (relocation)

Child Support Help (PA, OR, and UK)

How much extra child support does he need to give?

Uncontested Change of Child Custody and Support in NM

enrolling a minor in school / obtaining guardianship of a minor?

Severe Neglect in a Six-Year-Old - what to consider before adopting?

No time for a post-nup

She has assets. I have debts. Can I shield her against me?

Cohabitation Agreement - Lawyers Disagree. I am confused by it all.

How strict are residency requirements for getting a divorce in NY?

Time for Her to Fly-eee-aiyyyy

When my husband files for divorce, what is my next step?

Su casa es mi casa, but I'm not sure we want it

Financially supporting my ex-spouse - what's fair?

Do I owe my ex-wife this money?

How can I collect real estate payments due from my ex-wife?

What should the future with my ex look like?

Looking for info on "divorce" (unmarried with children) in WA state

How to prove residency in Arizona for a divorce? (with children)

How to write an affidavit in a child custody case?

Housing / Landlord/Tenant

3 day notice grar

The heat in the apartment isn't working properly, landlord isn't fixing

Landlord charges a deductible for repairs on the property?

Can you deny owner entrance and housing if he doesn't live there?

Where Does Quiet Enjoyment Come In?

My nocturnal neighbor has the loudest motorcycle ever.

Criminal behavior by a guest of a tenant

I'm sorry, I screwed up. Please let me live with my boyfriend?

Is my apartment manager ripping off my security deposit with a fake law?

Breaking a lease in NYC

Give me a break on breaking my lease?

Do we have any recourse for being evicted from an illegally-zoned unit?

Seeking information on how to fight/delay eviction in Washington State

Landlord is Trying to Break My "Lease with Option to Buy" for more $$

Solutions to a Housing Crisis: Dogs & Cats Edition

Is a move out notice from a landlord a binding contract?

Landlord 101 - Rejecting tenants before they apply?


Worried about my friend's immigration status

What to expect when you're immigrating (for love): US to Canada

Helping a colleague on a path to permanent residency

Help me understand what happens next, green card edition

If I am undocumented/out of status is it "illegal" for me to work?

Should I become (or not become) a permanent US resident?

How can I live in the US with my fiancee?

Grew up here, not allowed to work...what to do?

Personal Injury

Walked into a glass door, thinking of filing a lawsuit

Is there a legal case here? (against a jail/prison)

I don't need luck, man, because you're the one on the Titanic.

Attacked by a dog, how to get owner to take responsibility?

Hey! I'm walkin' here!

Legalities after Bicycle Accident?

I was in a motorcycle accident. What will I get?

happy new year. i miss my car.

Rear-end collision (3 cars, second driver fled), am I screwed?

Do I need a lawyer for my totaled car accident while parked?

I just got a check for $10k. Can I keep it? YANAL.

I might be suing someone soon. What do I have to know?

Mom being sued, should she lawyer up? Car accident...

Do they have sovereign immunity over ME?

Real Estate

Ex is getting the house, need legal help in Denver, Colorado

Non-legal legal advice aka "should I pursue this..."

Real estate lawyers: worth it for "normal" home buying?

What can be done with fraudulent attorney?

First Time Homebuyer -- Doing it Without a Real Estate Agent

How do we determine a property's value and clearance?

Fence dispute -- did we do the right thing?

Can a will, or similar document, supersede a deed? Please help.

Why does my bf need my ss# to buy a home?

Wills / Trusts

Trust me! - revocable trust

Inheriting when one sibling is disabled

Can I touch this money before she goes into the Great Beyond?

How can my daughter's boyfriend find out what his grandfather's will says?

Rights of adult child to view parent's body at mortuary?

Finding out if a Life Insurance policy exists?

Not my debt, not my problem

Do I own my late parents' house?

(I think) we're looking for a good estate lawyer near Inyo County, CA

And I thought money was hard when we didn't have it.

MetaTalk Threads

Background discussion about why "get a lawyer" is a popular response on AskMe threads:

Proposed Ask MeFi Guideline Addition/Flag Reason - includes a suggestion from cribcage about making referrals to free and low-cost legal resources.

Hive Mind Aggregator - includes a nomination from The Bellman for "best piece of general-purpose legal advice ever given on AskMe."

If it's not answering the question, can it be deleted? - includes guidance from jessamyn for "get a lawyer" suggestions.

Free advice is seldom cheap - includes discussion about how to suggest "get a lawyer," and ideas from Sticherbeast that include referencing this wiki page.

Bad advice is bad - includes a comment from Ironmouth on how "get a lawyer" can protect the Asker.

Fund local road construction - includes perspective from zarq, cortex and jessamyn on why 'lawyer up' is a popular response but official fundraising by MetaFilter is not.

I am not your... Doctor, Therapist/Counselor, Attorney/Lawyer, Mechanic, Dentist, Veterinarian... - includes research from jedicus about disclaimers.

immigration law questions - includes general discussion on when a lawyer is needed, and perspective from LobsterMitten on what can be helpful to say in addition to "get a lawyer."

Get a Lawyer! Really, you need a lawyer! Hey, you might want to get a lawyer! - includes a comment from crush-onastick on how to find an attorney that is incorporated into this page.

can I has lawyer - includes Haddock's Second Law: "People who give you a flat answer very often are wrong."

Ask Metafilter questions that can't be answered - includes a comment from Ookseer about "get a lawyer" responses.

Trolling Via Questioned Assumptions - includes comments from kathrineg, languagehat and Miko about legal questions.

Don't ask me!! - includes guidance from jessamyn for "get a lawyer" suggestions.

I am a commenter, but not your commenter - includes perspective from ND¢ on IANYL disclaimers, and toomuchpete on how "get a lawyer" responses are related.

IAALBIANYL - includes perspective from dios and "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys on how "get a lawyer" can protect the Asker.

IANAL, but I'll give legal advice anyway - includes a comment from a robot made out of meat on "get a lawyer" responses and mathowie on how to respond to "bad" advice.

IANA_ - includes perspective from hermitosis on the self-policing nature of "YOU NEED A LAWYER!" responses.

It's a question, of course it was asked - includes perspective from shmegegge on "see a professional" disclaimers.

Legal AskMe - includes a comment from cmonkey on how "It's not like this is or anything."

I am not a lawyer but here is my advice - includes perspective from monju_bosatsu on "get a lawyer" disclaimers.

Policy against legal, medical, and tax advice? - includes perspective from monju_bosatsu on "get a lawyer" disclaimers and practicing law without a license.


The listing of an organization on this website does not constitute an endorsement of that group. This website and its contributors cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted here or on any other website. This website and its contributors are not responsible for any legal advice, information, or assistance that you may obtain by using any of the organizations or websites listed or linked here. This website is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice1 for your specific situation. To obtain legal advice,2 you must get a lawyer.

1      Ask Metafilter "it is important to know that Ask MetaFilter is not a forum for providing [...] legal advice." See Also Post 280882, AskMetaFilter Deleted Posts. "Sorry, but Ask Metafilter commenters cannot give legal advice."

2      Rios, Sophia. “Lead Generation for BigLaw? The Business and Ethics of Providing Free Legal Tools and Information Online.” CodeX, April 1, 2015.