From criminal cases to income tax law, legal issues are part of our everyday life. Finding the information you need can be confusing and difficult. Luckily there are organizations in the city to help you out at no or low cost. Here are a few to turn to if you need legal help.
New York Bar Association Services
The New York Bar Association offers a number of free services to the public: legal referrals, an advice hotline and access to a variety of informative legal clinics. If you need a lawyer and don’t know where to turn, the Bar Association makes referrals for insured, interested attorneys, who have been pre-screened for suitability and experience for your specific legal matter. There is no cost for a referral. Call 212-626-7373 (Hablamos español? 212-626-7374)
The City Bar Justice Center Hotline (212-626-7383) is a free advice telephone line dedicated to low-income NYC residents. The hotline connects you with counselors, attorneys and paralegals. Counselors will provide free simple legal advice on a range of civil issues such as family law, consumer debt, bankruptcy, employment and landlord-tenant law.
Counselors are available to answer questions: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 pm.
Monday Night Law Clinic
This free clinic runs from October through August. It is scheduled on specific nights throughout each month. At the clinic, attorneys will meet with clients for one-half hour appointments to discuss a variety of legal topics, such as bankruptcy, consumer issues, matrimonial, basic employment and landlord-tenant. There is no charge for this service. A client must schedule an appointment for the Monday Night Clinic through the LRS hotline 212-626-7373 (English), 212-626-7374 (Spanish). Walk-ins are not permitted.
Brown Bag Law Lunch
The Legal Referral Service sponsors a speaker’s bureau called Brown Bag Law Lunch. Through this program, your office, community group, school, or organization can schedule a skilled attorney to give a free presentation on any area of law you may wish. Each presentation is followed by a question and answer session, and the entire program can be completed in one hour. Brown Bag Law is a public service; attorney speakers will not solicit business from workshop attendees. Our enjoyable, innovative presentations are designed to answer basic questions about topics ranging from “When and How to Hire a Lawyer” to “Estate Planning” to “The ABC’s of Buying a House/Coop/Condo.” Legal Referral Service is happy to tailor a speaking engagement to suit your needs, and we look forward to having an opportunity to visit with your group or organization. For more information or to schedule a guest speaker, please contact Allen Charne at 212-382-6775.
The Tax Clinic is a component of Monday Night Law and meets on designated dates each month. At the Tax Clinic, individuals may meet with a lawyer for a one half-hour session to discuss their federal, state or city tax questions and concerns that affect their individual or business tax status. There is no charge for this service. A client must schedule an appointment for the Tax Clinic through the LRS hotline 212-626-7373 (English), 212-626-7374 (Spanish). Walk-ins are not permitted.
The New York Bar Association also publishes informational materials on subjects from Animal Rights to Wills and Estates.
Legal Services offers free legal help to the public for housing, family, domestic violence, public benefits, income tax, employment, education, consumer rights and economic development issues. Legal Services NYC is “the largest organization exclusively devoted to providing free civil legal services in the United States, with neighborhood offices in every borough of New York City.” For more detailed information, visit their website.
The Legal Aid Society also provides legal services to low income families and individuals living in New York City. They have a “comprehensive city-wide legal services program for clients centering on three major practices - Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Rights. Society staff members represent clients at literally every level of the State and federal trial and appellate courts as well as in State and federal administrative proceedings.”
"The Civil Practice represents low-income families and individuals in legal matters involving housing, benefits, disability, domestic violence, family issues, health, employment, immigration, HIV/AIDS, prisoners' rights and elderlaw. The Criminal Practice provides representation in criminal trials and appeals as well as parole revocation defense hearings. The Juvenile Rights Practice provides representation for children who appear before the Family Court in matters involving child protective proceedings, juvenile delinquency, and PINS (people in need of supervision) and in appellate cases involving children.”
An online tool to connect the public with legal information nationwide, “LawHelp.org provides referrals to local legal aid and public interest law offices, basic information about legal rights, self-help information, court information, links to social service agencies, and more in your state.”