Chelsea London Geraldine Burles

Geraldine Burles

Hopefully most of us don’t need legal help often. But if you do find yourself needing help from lawyers or solicitors, it can be a very costly business. So how do you access free or low-cost legal help that’s any good. Find out in this post, which also covers where to find (more affordable) legal help if you don’t qualify for benefits, and also how to find legal help for pets (if needed).

Citizens Advice has good information. You can find their offices in most towns, but you’ll have to make an appointment due to demand. You can often access free legal aid for serious issues or reduced or fixed-fee services from lawyers or charities, or sometimes from trade unions and insurance companies. Examples of legal aid are if you are risk of domestic violence, about to be made homeless, being discriminated against or taken to court.

Law Centres can help with various issues and there are several centres nationwide. They mostly help with landlord/housing issues, and problems with work, benefits and immigration status. Some can also help with discrimination, care, relationship issues and if children are being excluded from school. They cannot help with Wills/probate, personal injury, parking or traffic offences.

LawWorks is a site that can locate legal clinics near you. These offer free initial advice on social welfare laws including employment, housing, consumer disputes, debt and welfare rights.

Advocate is a charity that offers free legal help from volunteer barristers. They cannot provide legal help for those qualifying for legal aid, nor for deadlines less than 3 weeks away, or those who can afford legal fees or have insurance to cover the issues they need help with. The site has a great list by subject to direct you to others who can help, if they can’t.

Support Through Court has volunteers to help those going to court alone, if you are representing yourself. For civil/family (not criminal) cases, trained volunteers can provide emotional and practical support including filling in forms, planning what to say, how to settle issues without going to court and providing details of where to find free legal advice.

Advicelocal offers help by postcode to find local help for benefits, work, money and housing problems.

Other places that offer free or low-cost legal advice are:

  1. Children’s Legal Centre
  2. Action Against Medical Accidents
  3. Shelter (homelessness issues)
  4. FlowsRights of Women

Some insurance companies, trade unions and motoring organisations may cover your legal costs, so look to these first, before paying lawyers.

do solicitors offer free legal advice?

You’ve likely heard that some solicitors give 30 minutes of free advice. You might be able to get a short appointment with a solicitor for free or a set cost. Other solicitors might work for you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Note that this does not mean you don’t pay as you may still have to pay expenses or the court cases of the other side, so always check before you sign.

how to complain of faulty goods & services

Report dangerous or faulty goods or poor service to Trading Standards. This includes selling items to underage people, being scammed or being pressured into buying things you didn’t want (mobility scooters in-home etc). Citizens Advice has good advice on how to complain before that, and has details on the alternative dispute resolution that some companies sign up to, to resolve issues without going to court.

How to complain to an ombudsman (not just for energy and water companies) is a good page. There are ombudsmen to help with train services, furnture retailers, new build sales, buying cars and pension schemes). And  even issues with local councils.

where to find affordable online lawyers

Obviously you have to be careful. But there are some reputable companies where at-home lawyers answer your questions for set fees, and due to the rent of big offices taken out, the fees are far lower, and you can review services after you’ve finished:

Lawhive lets you find a local solicitor in 5 minutes, often up to 60% cheaper than high street firms. There are no hourly rates or hidden fees, and the savings of provding remote services are passed on to you.

Rocket Lawyer offers affordable legal documents, rather than paying a fortune for others to write them for you. From tenancy agreements to employment contracts to prenuptial agreements and power of attorney.

Expert Answers offers fixed price help from solicitors who work from home, passing the cost savings onto you. Founded by two solicitors, it has provided help for 400,000 people and has excellent reviews. Rather than pay £200 an hour, you can just a fraction to get answers within hours on any legal problem. Just open a secure account, post your question and the right specialists will help.

find free legal help for pets

Cooper & Co offers legal help for various issues from vets to kennels to breeders to custody and liability. Also they can find someone to accompany you to court. Many cases involve the not-very-well-thought-out Dangerous Dogs Act. Read more on the best ways to help prevent dog bites.

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