If you need someone who will research and interpret the law for you, you should consider talking to an attorney. Finding a free or low-cost lawyer is difficult because there are a lot of people who need lawyers but cannot afford them. The sections below provide information about the main groups which might help you find a free or low-cost lawyer.
The State Bar of California has written an excellent guide to this process, "How Can I Find and Hire a Laywer".
Lawyer referral services help people find lawyers. They can tell you about free or low-cost legal services in your area for people who qualify. If you do not qualify for free help, they can give you other information to help you find legal help that does not cost you a lot of money. For example, they keep lists of lawyers who will meet with you once to discuss your case. They will not charge you very much -- usually $20 to $45. Sometimes, this initial consultation is all you need to get started on your own. The lawyer will also explain the services he or she can offer you and how much you can expect to pay. Some lawyers have lower fees for people who do not have very much money.
Click here to find a State Bar certified lawyer referral service in your area.
There are Legal Aid offices in many cities throughout California. Legal aid agencies provide free legal advice, representation and other legal services in noncriminal cases to people below a certain income level. Because there are so many people in need of legal help, your income has to be fairly low to qualify for assistance from Legal Aid.
Bay Area Legal Aid is the local Legal Aid agency.
Use LawHelpCalifornia.org to find Legal Aid offices throughout California and to find out what areas of law they cover.
Click here to find a complete list of Legal Aid offices in the United States.
Non-profit public interest organizations may be able to help you. These groups sometimes have staff lawyers who might be able to handle your case. Others provide legal help only to groups of people rather than to individuals. These groups usually focus on select legal issues and often have strict requirements regarding who can qualify for assistance.
Use LawHelpCalifornia.org to find nonprofit public interest organizations throughout California. The website first asks for information about your legal topic and then allows you to narrow your search by location.
Local Public Law Libraries and Public Libraries may provide Lawyers in the Library, a service where practicing attorneys offer free legal information and referrals. These lawyers will not represent you regarding your legal matter. Always call ahead to verify days, times, availability and procedures for using the Lawyers in the Library services.
Alameda County Law Library Lawyers in the Library is a free information and referral program, which includes one-on-one phone consultation, where volunteer attorneys offer general advice, guidance, and referrals to other legal, social, or governmental agencies. The library also offers a Property Transfer Clinic, a short one-on-one phone consultation for Alameda county homeowners. Schedule your appointment here.
Berkeley Public Library Lawyers in the Library provides legal advice and referrals in a variety of areas. Call branches to get current information about locations, dates and times, and sign-up procedures. This program does not take place onsite at the library, and includes a limited number of phone appointments, on three Thursday evenings a month. Appointments usually run for about 10-15 minutes.
Contra Costa Bar Association has a list of free workshops in Contra Costa County and the Bay Area that cover a variety of legal topics. As of now, normally scheduled CCCBA legal workshops have been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.
Oakland Public Library Lawyers in the Library is a free information and referral program. In a one-on-one appointment, lawyers answer questions on most legal topics. The program is co-sponsored by the Alameda County Bar Association (510-302-2222). If legal help is required, people are referred to the Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service or other agencies.