Last updated: December 6, 2013
When you need legal help, but don’t have the funds to pay for a private attorney, you can feel confused and alone. Fortunately, there are a variety of organizations in Dayton that provide free or low cost legal assistance.
So, whether you have an issue with housing, family law, public benefits or some other issue, hopefully one of these agencies in the Gem City can help you. Keep in mind that many agencies offer assistance in civil matters only. If you have been charged with a crime, contact the Office of the Public Defender or the Lawyer Referral Service.
Note: The mission of Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) is “to provide high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.” Specific areas of law in which LAWO can assist include debt and collection matters, consumer, domestic violence, elder, family, housing and public benefits. LAWO also sponsors a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic that assists low-income taxpayers who are involved in controversies with the IRS.
Note: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) also provides civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and groups. Much of their work seeks to “change policy, laws, and regulations at local and state levels.” Specific areas in which ABLE is involved include education and children’s rights, environmental justice, predatory lending, healthcare advocacy, housing advocacy, and more. In conjunction with LAWO and the Volunteer Lawyer Project (below) ABLE also operates a Legal Aid Line, which is an intake, advice and referral services program.
Note: This group provides attorneys or assistance so that you can represent yourself in civil matters such as divorce, custody, consumer issues and bankruptcy. The service is for low income residents of Montgomery County and you must call the Legal Aid Line (888-534-1432) for initial screening. They do not handle criminal matters.
Note: If you have been charged with a crime that can result in jail time and meet the income eligibility requirements, contact the public defender’s office to see whether they can help you. They handle felonies, misdemeanors, preliminary hearings, extraditions, and juvenile delinquency in addition to some Children Services cases, some child support contempt cases and reductions in child support.
Note: The Lawyer Referral Service can help connect you to a participating attorney who specializes in the area of law with which you need help (referrals can be made to both civil and criminal practitioners). For $35 you receive a ½ hour consultation with an attorney. Time spent after will be charged at the attorney’s regular rate. Referrals are based on the area of law in which you need help, as well as your geographic and language preferences.