Free Legal Assistance for Your Credit Problems - dummies

Free Legal Assistance for Your Credit Problems

By Steve Bucci

You may be asking yourself if an attorney to help you with your credit problems can possibly be free or low-cost. The answer is yes, if that’s what you need. Notice the use of the word need, not want. If you can’t afford an attorney, free or very-low-cost services are available if you know where to find them.

The phrase pro bono comes from the Latin and means “for the public good.” Pro bono lawyers exist in most firms; they can be the very same lawyers who charge well-heeled clients hundreds of dollars an hour but will help you for little to nothing. The trick is to find one.

Here are some suggestions for finding free legal help:

  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC): LSC is the largest provider of civil legal aid for those who can’t afford it. LSC is a nonprofit corporation that supports 136 legal aid programs through more than 900 offices throughout the United States. It offers a variety of help, including cases involving family law, housing and foreclosure issues, and consumer issues such as protection from lenders, debt management, and bankruptcy.

    LSC serves consumers who are at or below 125 percent of the poverty level — in 2013, $14,363 for an individual or $29,438 for a family of four. Visit their website or call 202-295-1500.

  • Local bar association: Your local bar association can help you find the help you need for what you can afford to pay. The American Bar Association has a consumers’ guide to legal help on its website to help you find such resources in your state.

  • LawHelp: LawHelp helps low- and moderate-income consumers find free legal aid programs in their communities and provides links to other social service agencies.

  • Pro Bono Lawyers: This website has nearly 200 links covering all 50 states, with info about lawyers who may be willing to work for free or for a reduced rate depending on your circumstances.

  • Armed Forces Legal Assistance (AFLA): All branches of the military can find legal assistance at a central routing site.

A qualified attorney can handle anything a mortgage counselor or credit counselor can. The big difference is that most attorneys don’t deal with credit situations every day. As a result, they’ll probably take longer to get to the same place than someone who deals with hundreds or thousands of these cases every month.