To celebrate the 600th visitor to my blawg, I’m doing a giveaway of What Law School Doesn’t Teach You…But You Really Need to Know by Kimm Walton.
To enter, simply comment on any post. The winner will be selected at random. I’ll even pay for postage.
Sooner or later we are all going to be in a situation where a potential client tells us that they need help but they can’t afford it. Sometimes the matter is not really pressing and my advice is just to save up for it or to seek out a younger attorney who may not charge as much.
But sometimes the matter is pressing. What do you do? Obviously, if you have the skills for the job and time to do pro bono work, that’s the easiest way to help. In Arkansas, you can assist your potential pro bono client by signing up for VOCALS. This program provides malpractice insurance for the pro bono cases. They are also a great resource for questions you may have about types of cases that you don’t regularly handle.
Beyond Pro Bono
Arkansas Legal Services and and Legal Aid of Arkansas are found on the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership website. This website is great because it has a link to apply for legal aid. It also has an enormous amount of information and forms for people who are capable of handling simple matters themselves. The site has self help sections on:
- Consumer Law
- Family Law
- Housing Individual Rights
- Non-English Resources
- Public Benefits
- Veterans and Military
They have simple walk-throughs that ask questions and help build forms.
If the person is a member of the armed services, remind them that the base has a legal services office that may be able to help them, or at least point them in the right direction. Powers of Attorney, wills, etc. are handled by this office.
If the person believes that they have been the victim of a scam or racial profiling, they should report that incident to the Arkansas Attorney General’s website. The electronic form for reporting consumer issues is available here.
The hotline for racial profiling is: 1-877-AGO(246)-4404
There is also information about identity theft, junk mail complaint forms, medicaid fraud forms, and consumer tips.
In Forma Pauperis
If the person cannot afford the fees to file a civil claim, they may qualify to file in forma paupers, which excuses the filing fee. Check with the county or circuit clerk for this form. There are also forms available on the Legal Services website.
Prepaid Legal Services
This is essentially insurance for legal claims. Although the individual may not personally have a plan, their employer may offer this as a benefit. They should check with HR to find out if it is available.
The Bowen School of Law offers many free mediation services through its Mediation Clinic. THe school also has a litigation clinic, which primarily hands family law or juvenile delinquency. There is also a Tax Clinic, which handles low income taxpayer issues. The clinic programs can be found here.
Don’t Google It and Don’t Rely on Friends
Most importantly, at the very least, remind the person that googling or relying on friends’ advice is a terrible idea, especially in state cases. I don’t know how many times someone has told me what their child support or alimony amount should be, based on law in Texas or Oklahoma.