Last updated: November 21, 2013
Do you have a legal issue in the Des Moines area, but can’t afford to hire an attorney? There are many free or low-cost legal service options for Polk and Warren County residents. The main provider is the Iowa Legal Aid, a nonprofit legal aid organization providing free legal aid to low-income residents and seniors. There may be income limits that apply for you to qualify for free/low-cost help. Contact the specific agency to learn more. Below is a list of several organizations available to help you.
Areas of Law: Discrimination, Election and Voting, Freedom Speech, Freedom of Religion, Immigration Rights, LGBT Rights, Privacy, Police Practices, Jail and Prison Conditions, and other issues of fair treatment by government.
Good to Know: The ACLU does not usually assist in the following types of cases: criminal defense or post-conviction appeals, divorce or child custody disputes, property disputes, tax problems, workers compensation issues, consumer complaints, landlord-tenant disputes, building code issues and complaints about lawyers or judges. Requests for legal assistance must be submitted online.
Areas of Law: Consumer, Education, Employment, Family, Health, Housing, Elderly, Children/Youth Issues, Public Benefits, Probate
Good to Know: This office offers advice/legal counsel, brief services, self-help clinics, community legal education, and referrals, as well as full representation in administrative hearings and county, state, and federal courts. They do not assist with criminal cases. Applicants must qualify for services under financial guidelines. These guidelines are based on household size, income and assets. Most families who receive government benefits or who have minimum wage jobs are eligible for services. Offices are located in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Waterloo.
Areas of Law: Civil
Good to Know: This program provides free legal services to Iowans 60 and over.
Areas of Law: Employment, Pensions
Good to Know: This group provides information, counseling, and representation regarding pensions sponsored by employers, unions, and governments, including defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans such as 401(k) plans. They do not provide direct representation in court.
Areas of Law: Immigration
Good to Know: This organization provides limited immigration and refugee services. There may be a fee. Call to learn more.
Area of Law: Immigrant Rights, Immigration, Domestic Violence
Good to Know: This special project provides outreach, support, and advice to Polk County’s Hispanic and immigrant communities. Call to learn dates and times.
Areas of Law: Appellate, Children's Rights, Criminal Defense, Elder Law, General Civil, Tax
Good to Know: The law school only takes on new cases at certain times of the year. Call to learn about intake procedures.
Areas of Law: Consumer rights, Criminal, Disability Rights, Domestic Violence, Immigration, International Human Rights, Juvenile, and Workers' Rights.
Good to Know: The law school offers limited legal assistance through the legal clinic, which focuses on family law, children's issues, and social security and SSI disability.