It is the constitution of India that allows everyone to hire a lawyer to settle any dispute whether it is land, family, criminal matters or whatever. However, hiring a lawyer is not cheap and more renowned the lawyer is, higher will be the fees. In such a situation you may tend to think what if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer? Is it that you have to suffer in silence accepting everything happened, happening and will happen to you as your ill fate? Well, it is not.
Hiring a lawyer is not always expensive. Surprised! You should be because that is a common notion that people possess or is conveyed usually. If you too carry such a belief, there is nothing to worry. There are several other services available for people who do not have the ability or resource to afford legal representation.
You must, however, keep in mind that such services may vary from one state to another and in fact from one city to another city. That means you may have a markedly different experience from that of your family and friends has had walking on this path. It all depends on the legal aspect, types, and location.
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What is a legal aid and how does it work?
If you find all lawyers to be expensive according to your budget, then you can start looking into Legal Aid. This is a broad umbrella that provides legal assistance to people like you who cannot afford to hire Lawyers in India otherwise.
These services may vary significantly in name and service types depending on the location, but the primary idea of all services is to provide ‘pro bono.’ This term in Latin means services “for the public good.” Usually, pro bono services are free. The primary objective of providing pro bono service is to ensure equality in the eyes of the law and to provide all with a right to fair trial.
As different organizations may provide such services, you must research a bit about such services in your area. Contact them to find out whether or not you are eligible and how much help you can get. There are different such service models out there. A few common arrangements include:
- Legal clinics – These clinics usually takes up all civil cases and not criminal cases. There may be some income and resource limitations to prevent people from having the ability to afford a lawyer or hire services from any standard legal firm use their service due to stinginess. Often funded by Legal Services Corporations, these clinics were formed by Congress in 1974. Apart from counseling people who cannot afford lawyers, these clinics also make arrangements for legal care from legal firms or pro bono attorneys registered with these clinics.
- Law firms – There may be a few law firms that solely provide legal aid and are usually funded by grants or private donations. Sometimes the LSC may also support them. The legal clinics may send people wanting legal assistance but do not have the money to these standalone law firms for consultations.
- Pro bono attorneys – Apart from the legal clinics and law firms there are a few individual lawyers that may represent clients in all sorts of legal matters free of charge. You will be surprised to know that state and city bar associations of few countries have made it mandatory for lawyers to devote at least fifty hours a year for pro bono service.
Many lawyers will take up cases on contingency fee arrangements. This means you do not have to pay any fees to the lawyers upfront for their service. You may even not have to pay for any court fees and other allied expenses. These costs will be borne by the lawyer, and all of it will be deducted as a percentage of your settlement money plus the legal expenses at actuals. It is a practice by the lawyers that fight for the plaintiffs if they are eligible. Just make sure you ask about the rate and negotiate as much as possible before signing the service contract.
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The funded programs
The government may grant funds to a national network of Law offices in india to provide free legal help for civil cases to people having low income. Usually, there are experienced paralegals and staff attorneys that take up cases regarding divorce, land disputes, landlord-tenant conflicts, and subsidized housing. Apart from that public assistance, unemployment and Social Security issues are also resolved by them.
These lawyers usually have a lot of knowledge about several non-legal resources such as food banks, temporary housing, and domestic violence shelters. These programs will consider your income level and all your assets to provide their service. However, such services are not available to any undocumented immigrant.
The charitable organizations
There are a few charitable organizations that serve particular populations in that specific area. These organizations have lawyers and legal assistants as their staff to provide low or no-cost legal services to such people. These particular populations may include senior citizens, young artists, immigrants, refugees, and disabled, mentally challenged, low-income tenants, battered women, and even provide Legal services for startups. These organizations may arrange pro bono attorneys engaged in private practice.
However, these organizations are usually understaffed as they sustain on individual funds and time-limited grants from foundations. Therefore, you will need to wait for some time to get their help. Also, you may need to pay a fee for their service which will be ideally much less than what you will pay if you hire a private Legal firm in india.
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Other sources to avail
You may also look out for pro bono programs provided by different lawyers’ bar associations of the state or the city. These low-cost or no-cost legal services provide help in litigating matters to clients who have low income, elderly, suffering from AIDS or is an abused spouse.
There are also many law schools that offer clinical programs run by law professors and law students. The students are given academic credit along with the experience of the legal world for real under professional and expert supervision.