Last updated: June 1, 2017
Do you have a legal issue, but can’t afford to hire an attorney? There are many free or low-cost legal service options for residents in the Twin Cities area. The main sources of assistance are through legal aid programs such as Central Minnesota Legal Services, a nonprofit group providing free legal aid to low-income residents and seniors in Minneapolis, or through Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services in Saint Paul. Income limits or residency restrictions may 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: Family, Housing, Government Benefits, Consumer, Employment, Senior Legal issues
Good to Know: This organization provides free legal aid to Anoka and Hennepin County residents. Income and residency restrictions apply. Call to go learn about their intake process.
Area of Law: Civil and Criminal
Good to Know: This is a low-cost attorney referral service. To be eligible, you must meet income requirements. There is a modest intake fee for the referral. Attorneys will provide a free, 30-minute consultation.
Good to Know: This is a free, first come-first served service for unrepresented litigants. Staff can address general questions about Hennepin County District Court cases; refer litigants to on-site programs for brief legal advice; provide court forms and procedural information; provide information about full, reduced and no fee attorney services; and assist with use of internet form tools and other materials.
Areas of Law: Civil
Good to Know: VLN is a statewide organization that matches low-income clients with volunteer attorneys for free civil legal services. Services range from advice to full representation. They do not handle criminal matters, personal injury, worker's compensation, legal or medical malpractice, or any other fee-generating issue.
Areas of Law: Estate planning, Discrimination, Social security, Immigration, and Employment–related concerns.
Good to Know: This group provides free direct representation or consultations to clients are HIV positive and have income below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines when the legal issue stems directly from an individual's HIV status.
Areas of Law: Bankruptcy, Consumer issues
Good to Know: Law students at the University of Minnesota Law School provide pro bono services to individuals in serious financial difficulty contemplating filing for bankruptcy and to individuals otherwise involved in a bankruptcy case. Call to learn more.
Areas of Law: Child advocacy, Foster Children, Abuse/Neglect cases
Good to Know: CLC provides free statewide legal representation to foster children either through court-appointment or direct referrals.
Areas of Law: Criminal defense, mediation
Good to Know: Lawyers defend low-income adults and juveniles in all types of criminal cases heard in any Hennepin County courtroom. Services are free. You are required to have an in-person client interview prior to obtaining an attorney. They also run a mediation program for civil matters.
Areas of Law: Disability
Good to Know: This group offers a full range of services to disabled persons including advocating on their behalf and representing clients in court and hearings involving abuse, neglect, and discrimination issues.
Area of Law: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking
Good to Know: This a free advocacy service for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and family members or friends affiliated with the University of Minnesota, TC or Augsburg College who are victims of sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking.
Area of Law: Domestic Violence, Family law, Sexual Assault
Good to Know: This is a free statewide legal service for victims of domestic violence. They offer a legal aid hotline and direct legal services available in English, Spanish, Somali, and Kiswahili.
Important: If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Areas of Law: Family, Divorce, Child Custody, Paternity
Good to Know: Lawyers help unrepresented persons with filing out forms for divorce or child custody issues. Services are free, but you must live in Hennepin County or have an existing court order from the Family Court. Call ahead of time to make an appointment.
Areas of law: Family, Divorce, Child Custody, Paternity
Good to Know: SHSC provides unrepresented parties with access to legal forms and has weekly legal clinics on a first come, first serve basis. Services are free, but income and residency restrictions apply.
Areas of Law: divorce, domestic violence, custody, child support, child protection, GLBT family law issues
Good to Know: Tubman runs a legal clinic staffed with volunteer attorneys who will meet with you for 30 minutes. There is a fee of $15.00 prepaid or $20.00 at the door. The service is free for low-income individuals. You must live in Hennepin, Washington and Ramsey counties to qualify.
Area of Law: Anti-human trafficking, Asylum, Immigration, Citizenship
Good to Know: The Institute works with clients to complete necessary applications and forms and explaining steps involved with immigration. You must make an appointment for services, and a there is a small fee. You may be referred to a low-cost immigration attorney, if necessary.
Area of Law: Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Sexual Abuse
Good to Know: This group provides legal services for sexual assault and human trafficking victims. Representatives speak a variety of languages.
Areas of Law: Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Guardianship, Conservatorship, Special Needs Trusts, Medical Assistance Planning, Real Estate
Good to Know: This organization offers a full range of low-cost legal services for seniors. It is not a free legal aid provider.