Free Legal Aid in Chicago

Last updated: September 27, 2013

Do you have a legal issue, but cannot afford to hire an attorney? There are many options for free or low-cost legal services for residents of Cook County’s “Windy City” including free and low-cost legal aid and law school clinics. Chicago has six law schools, each of which operates one or more clinics offering free or reduced cost legal presentation to eligible clients. For either choice, there may be income limits that apply for individuals to qualify for free help. Contact the specific agency to learn more. The Chicago Bar Foundation also publishes a useful guide. Below is a short list of several organizations available to help you.

Legal Aid Organizations

  • Access Living

    115 West Chicago Avenue
    Chicago
    , IL 60654

    Tel: Tel: (312) 640-2100 and TTY: (312) 640-2102

    Area of Law: Disability, Civil Rights, and Housing Discrimination.

    Good to Know: The Civil Rights and Legal team enforce federal, state, and local civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and related laws, which prohibit discrimination. Their attorneys and legal assistants regularly counsel people with disabilities about their civil rights and provide representation in cases implicating important disability rights issues.

  • AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (Main Loop Office)

    180 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 2110
    Chicago
    , IL 60601

    Tel: (312) 427-8990

    Areas of Law: Confidentiality and HIV/AIDS testing, Civil Rights, Debt Collection, Discrimination, Employment, Estate Planning, Immigration, Insurance, Public Benefits, and HIV/AIDS law pertaining to young adults.

    Good to Know: To be eligible for assistance you must have a legal issue based on your HIV status, real or perceived, and be a Cook County resident. If you are HIV+ and live outside of Cook County, you may be able to receive assistance over the phone. For all potential clients, call before going into a branch office. Many issues can be solved without making a trip in person.

  • AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center)

    2020 W. Harrison St. Room 4-219
    Chicago
    , IL 60601

    Tel: (312) 572-4766

    Areas of Law: Confidentiality and HIV/AIDS testing, Civil Rights, Debt Collection, Discrimination, Employment, Estate Planning, Immigration, Insurance, Public Benefits, and HIV/AIDS law pertaining to young adults.

    Good to Know: To be eligible for assistance you must have a legal issue based on your HIV status, real or perceived, and be a Cook County resident. If you are HIV+ and live outside of Cook County, you may be able to receive assistance over the phone. For all potential clients, call before going into a branch office. Many issues can be solved without making a trip in person.

  • Cabrini Green Legal Aid

    740 North Milwaukee
    Chicago
    , IL 60642

    Tel: (312) 738-2452

    Area of Law: Family, Housing, Criminal records, and Criminal defense.

    Good to Know: To be eligible for assistance you must reside in the city of Chicago with a household income less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines. If you are seeking an expungement, save time by first securing your rap sheet from the Chicago Police Department, then head to CGLA’s Expungement Help Desk in Room 1006 of the Daley Center at 50 W. Washington.

  • CARPLS

    17 N. State Street #1850
    Chicago
    , IL 60602

    Tel: (312) 738-9200 and Spanish: (312) 738-9200

    Area of Law: Consumer Debt, Domestic Violence, Employment, Estate Planning, Family Law, Guardianships, Health Care, Housing, Injuries to Person or Property, Public Benefits, and more.

    Good to Know: This service is primarily a legal aid hotline. Attorneys do not represent clients in court. The hotline service is free to low-income residents of Cook County. Clients who do not qualify for free services may be charged a nominal fee. They also operate four self-help desks for individuals representing themselves in the area of domestic relations, consumer, building code and car impounds, and housing/consumer contract and tort litigation.

  • Chicago Legal Clinic

    2938 E. 91st Street
    Chicago
    , IL 60617

    Tel: (773) 731-1762

    Area of Law: Numerous areas of law including from Adoption to Workers Compensation and more.

    Good to Know: Chicago Legal operates several comprehensive neighborhood legal clinics in Cook County. Call or visit the website to learn more. They provide direct legal representation on a sliding scale basis according to your ability to pay. If you want basis online legal information, click here.

  • Domestic Violence Legal Clinic

    555 W. Harrison Street, Suite 1900
    Chicago
    , IL 60607

    Tel: (312) 325-9155

    Area of Law: Family Law, Domestic Violence.

    Good to Know: DVLC is a full service provider of legal assistance, ranging from information and referral to litigation. All participants receive some type of help, whether brief services, referrals, or representation in litigation. If you need immediate assistance, please call your local police department or the City of Chicago/State of Illinois Domestic Violence Help Line (877) 863.6338.

  • Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago

    120 S. LaSalle Street, Ste. 900
    Chicago
    , IL 60603

    Tel: (312) 341-1070

    Area of Law: Children & Families, Consumer, Housing, Immigrants & Workers’ Rights, and Public Benefits.

    Good to Know: All potential clients must be low-income, register by telephone and be prescreened for eligibility through their Client Screening Unit. There are higher income limits for homeowners at risk of foreclosure, seniors, veterans, people living with HIV-AIDS, and domestic violence survivors seeking protection from an abuser.

     

  • Lawyers for the Creative Arts

    213 West Institute Place, Suite 403
    Chicago
    , IL 60610

    Tel: (312) 649-4111

    Area of Law: Intellectual Property, Artists rights.

    Good to Know: LCA is a resource for all individuals and organizations in art, media, and entertainment. To qualify for services, first fill out the application. There is a $50 fee for individual applicants. The fee is $100 for corporations and established entities or groups of two or more persons. LCA is a resource for all individuals and organizations in art, media, and entertainment.

  • The Law Project

    100 N. LaSalle St., Suite 600
    Chicago
    , IL 60602

    Tel: (312) 939-3638

    Area of Law: Small Business and Nonprofit Startups, Community Development, Contracts, Employment, Real Estate, and Tax.

    Good to Know: This organization provides free transactional legal services to eligible nonprofit organizations that are working to improve low-income communities. Their clients are economic development organizations, affordable housing developers, social service agencies, job training and development organizations, community education programs, community health clinics, legal services organizations, transitional and supportive housing programs, and technical assistance providers. Entrepreneurs who are starting or have their own small businesses can also apply.

  • World Relief—Chicago Immigration Legal Services

    3507 W Lawrence
    Chicago
    , IL 60625

    Tel: (773) 583-3010

    Area of Law: Immigration.  

    Good to Know: They charge a $40 fee for the initial, in-person consultation. Employment-based immigration services are not provided. They are not wheelchair accessible. Most staff if bilingual Spanish and English.

Law School Clinics

  • Northwestern University School of Law (Bluhm Legal Clinic)

    375 East Chicago Avenue
    Chicago
    , IL 60611

    Tel: (312) 503-8576

    Area of Law: Adult criminal cases in Cook County (case-by-case basis, fees apply), juvenile delinquency, juvenile record expungement, immigration claims for women and children fleeing violence, investor protection, removal of juvenile names from Illinois Sex Offender Registry, start-up businesses/nonprofit groups (modest fee)
    wrongful convictions of inmates currently serving time (no post-release work or sentence reduction).

    Good to Know: Call ahead of time. No walk-ins are accepted.

  • The John Marshall Fair Housing Legal Clinic

    55 E. Jackson Boulevard, Suite 1020
    Chicago
    , IL 60604

    Tel: (312) 786-2267

    Area of Law: Housing Discrimination.

    Good to Know: Services are free of charge, but if a monetary settlement results, the clinic will collect costs and attorneys fees.