It can seem hard or overwhelming to find a lawyer that fits your problem and budget. However, there are different options that can help, including resources for low-income people who can't afford a lawyer.
Signs its important to find a lawyer
In criminal cases, you have a "right to counsel." That means you have a right to have a lawyer, even if you can't afford to pay one.
In most civil cases, like divorce, you do not have this same "right to counsel." Some people choose to go forward with their case without a lawyer, which the Court calls "pro se" which is Latin for "on your own behalf."
However, having a lawyer can make a big difference in your case, especially if:
- Your case is complicated, like if you share children or a lot of property with the other side.
- You and the other side don't agree.
- You have experienced domestic violence from the other side.
- Your immigration status is tied to your marital status.
Where to find a lawyer
In Montgomery County, you can seek legal help from:
- Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO). LAWO is a non-profit law firms that provides free legal help to eligible low-income people. When you contact LAWO they will ask you some questions about yourself and your problem. Then they will let you know if they are able to help or if can they connect you with a pro bono attorney. Unfortunately, legal aid has limited resources and cannot always help everyone.
- Dayton Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). This means that they can get some basic information about your problem and use that to connect you with one of their members. This can be helpful because, like doctors, lawyers can specialize in certain types of law. Once the LRS has identified an attorney for your needs, you will be provided with that lawyer’s name and phone number. It will be your responsibility to contact the lawyer to schedule your initial 30 minute in-office consultation. There is often a consultation fee of $35, which you will need to pay the lawyer when you meet with them. The lawyers referred by the LRS are private attorneys who will charge their full fees for any work they do for you.
- Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). The OSBA provides an online lawyer directory, where you can look up lawyers who are members of the OSBA based on location and the kind of law they practice.