Those of us who work with low-income families know that small legal problems can easily escalate to a large-scale crisis. When individuals’ face legal challenges – a DUI, speeding tickets, the need to file a restraining order, help managing debt, navigating the aftermath of a crime – this can cause stress for the whole family. Legal representation can be expensive and out of reach for those who live pay check to pay check. These challenges make pro bono legal services and legal clinics a vital asset to these communities.
In Orange County, several agencies that provide free and low-cost legal services can be of support to you and your clients:
- Public Law Center (PLC): PLC, Orange County’s pro bono law firm, is committed to providing access to justice for low-income and vulnerable residents. PLC’s services range from bankruptcy legal assistance to homelessness prevention. Call (714) 541-1010 to learn about legal services and eligibility.
- Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC): provide free civil legal services to low-income families, individuals, and senior citizens. Their three tiers of service delivery are 1.) evaluation, counsel and advice 2.) clinics and workshops 3.) direct representation. Call LASOC’s hotline at (800) 834-5001 or (714) 571-5200.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Orange County (AAAJ): AAAJ currently provides legal intake in seven Asian languages and have a Vietnamese immigration attorney located in Orange County. Click here for information on AAAJ’s toll free hotlines in seven languages.
- UCI Law Clinics: UCI Law school utilizes free clinics for the benefit of their students and the community. Touching on legal matters from consumer law to immigrant rights, these clinics can be a valuable asset to clients.
- Proboknow: Proboknow matches attorneys seeking practical experience (supervised and mentored by experience attorneys) with individuals in need of a lawyer that can’t afford one. Lawyers working with Proboknow may decide to represent the person and handle the case free of charge.
As professionals working to ensure that we give FRC clients the best information possible, always remind clients to be extremely careful and not agree to any attorney’s fees if they are asked after being offered “free” or “pro bono” legal services
And don’t forget – nonprofits need legal help too! Running and managing an FRC or non-profit is hard work. Beyond managing the day to day of clients and employees, it is essential to ensure that your FRC is in good standing legally. PLC offers free legal assistance to community-based non-profit organizations through their COLAP program, and can your leadership counsel in compliance, tax, and employment matters.