Last updated: September 27, 2013
The legal world can be a confusing place, so enlisting the aid of a trained professional is usually in your best interest. However, many people cannot afford legal representation, even when the need for assistance may be great. Fortunately, legal aid groups in Boston specialize in representing low-income individuals and people in particularly vulnerable positions, such as recent immigrants, children or battered women.
The keys to selecting a quality legal aid lawyer are to contact a group that specializes in your particular legal issue and to feel comfortable speaking earnestly with the person who will be representing your interests. To make your search easier, we have compiled a list of reliable Legal Aid groups in Boston.
Greater Boston Legal Services provides free civil legal assistance to low-income people in the Greater Boston area. They have a large team of attorneys, and can help you with issues related to consumer rights, elder, health and disability law, employment law, family law, housing law, immigration issues and welfare assistance. They also have specific programs designed to help Asian-Americans and disabled children. Before you call, see whether you qualify for free assistance under their income guidelines.
The Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation provides free civil legal assistance to low income individuals. They typically handle civil matters such as child custody, domestic violence, housing, health care, employment, government benefits and elder issues.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association provides legal representation in civil matters to the indigent of Boston through the pro bono services of an enormous panel of over 1,000 private attorneys. With so many pro bono attorneys, the panel is capable of handling many different types of cases.
Community Legal Services and Counseling Center is run entirely by volunteers, and provides free civil legal assistance for people in need. They offer legal assistance in the areas of family law and domestic violence; housing and homelessness prevention; disability benefits; and immigration and refugee rights. They also offer affordable psychological care.
The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute specializes in large-scale legal initiatives that address the root causes of poverty, remove barriers to opportunity, and promote economic stability. Their programs include employment law, family homelessness, family law and domestic violence, health care, housing, immigration, and civil rights.
The Center for Law and Education specializes in helping students by providing advocacy in education law matters. The Center focuses on disability rights, disciplinary actions and school district reforms.
The Children's Law Center of Massachusetts provides advocacy and legal services for low-income children. They routinely address issues such as emancipation, immigration, rights of children who have "aged out" of foster care, access to education, and collateral consequences of juvenile court involvement. Try calling their hotline 1-888-KIDLAW8 weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. to speak with an attorney immediately.
The Massachusetts Advocates for Children provides legal services for children who are vulnerable because of poverty, race, limited English or disability and face significant barriers to equal educational and opportunities. They have a specific program targeted toward Boston school reform, and run the Autism Special Education Legal Support Center.
Kids in Need of Defense was founded by Angelina Jolie and Microsoft to counsel unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children in the United States. They provide pro bono attorneys to represent unaccompanied children through the U.S. immigration system.
Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services offers advice, referral and assistance with forms for family reunification visas, U-Visas for victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking. They charge a nominal fee for representation, which is dependent upon income.
The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project works to secure safety and freedom for asylum-seekers who have fled from persecution throughout the world and to promote the rights of immigrants who have been unjustly detained.
The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau represents people with no or low incomes who live in Suffolk or Middlesex County. Law students are supervised by licensed attorneys, and can help you with housing, family, government benefits, and wage and hour law matters.
The Tenant Advocacy Project at Harvard Law School represents tenants of public and subsidized housing at administrative hearings at housing authorities throughout greater Boston. It is operated by law students, but supervised by licensed attorneys.
The Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School offers free or greatly reduced legal representation from Harvard law students, supervised by a licensed attorney. They can help you with issues related to disability benefits, estate planning, consumer law, family law, government benefits, housing law, and veterans benefits.
The Boston College Legal Assistance Bureau is operated by Boston College law students and supervised by practicing attorneys. They advise and represent clients with a variety of legal problems, including domestic violence prevention, family law, landlord-tenant disputes, and Social Security disability appeals. They also offer free legal services to small businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and first-time home buyers through its Community Enterprise Clinic.
The Disability Law Center provides protection and advocacy for the rights of Massachusetts residents with a wide range of disabilities (physical, psychiatric, sensory or cognitive), regardless of income. Instead of providing assistance with general legal issues, they specialize in helping disabled people gain access to community services, special education, health care, and disability benefits.
The National Consumer Law Center helps low-income and other disadvantaged people, including seniors, on consumer law issues such as bankruptcy, credit discrimination, foreclosures, car sales, debt collection, and student loans. Significantly, they provide free or affordable expert witness services which could be essential to success in your consumer law action.
The Small Claims Advisory Service is a group of volunteers who help the citizens of Massachusetts navigate the small claims system. They can help you with small claim issues related to auto law, consumer law, credit and debt law, home improvement law, and landlord/tenant disputes.
Prisoners’ Legal Services provides civil legal assistance to people who are incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons or in the county jails. They can help with issued such as access to health care (including mental health care), staff assaults, extreme conditions of confinement and segregation. They do NOT handle criminal matters that are notdirectly related to incarceration.
The Committee for Public Counsel Services is the Public Defender in the Boston area. They oversee the provision of legal representation to indigent persons in criminal cases when there is a right to counsel, as well as in certain related civil cases where an individual’s liberty is at state, such as mental health proceedings.