Last updated: October 29, 2013
If you are a Cincinnatian in need of legal assistance but unable to afford to hire a private attorney, there are several agencies and organizations that may be able to help you, depending on your issue and income. Whether you need assistance with public benefits, expungement of your criminal record, a protective order, or some other matter, check out the Cincinnati resources we have compiled below. Although many require that you meet specific income guidelines in order to qualify, there are some programs that provide services to those of moderate means.
Note: The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati (“LASGC”) should be one of your first stops if you are looking for assistance with a civil legal problem. Its mission is “to resolve serious legal problems of low-income people, promote economic and family stability, and reduce poverty through effective legal assistance.” In conjunction with the Cincinnati Bar Association, LASGC founded the Volunteer Lawyers Project, which connects individuals with private attorneys working on a pro bono basis. LASGC is also the parent organization of the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. Between these three entities, it is likely that your legal issue can be addressed if you qualify for services. Areas in which LASGC may be able to assist include housing, domestic violence, public benefits, social security, immigration, probate, adoption and more. To start the process, call the hotline at 513-241-9400 or 1-800-582-2682.
Note: Another good place to start when you are seeking free or low cost legal aid in Cincinnati is the United Way helpline at 2-1-1, which can connect you to community service providers. You can also check out their searchable database directly. Be advised that in many legal assistance searches, referral appears to be primarily to Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. Depending on your specific situation and needs, however, 2-1-1 may provide additional resources.
Note: Through the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), the Cincinnati Bar Association offers two programs designed to assist those with lower incomes. The first, the Modest Means Programs, is meant to "bridge the gap for those individuals who do not qualify for indigent legal aid, pro bono programs or any other no/low cost legal services [and] those who cannot afford to pay current market rate for attorney’s fees." Call 513-699-4025 to see if you qualify. In addition, the Attorneys for the Marginally Indigent Program is designed to help those criminal defendants who do not qualify for representation through the public defender's office but cannot afford a private defense attorney. In order to qualify, you must first contact the Public Defender at 513-946-3700.
Note: The public defender’s office offer representation in municipal, juvenile, domestic relations and drug courts. You must meet specific income eligibility requirements to qualify for their services. Contact their office to get the most current information.
Note: If you are 60 years old or older, the Pro Seniors legal hotline can provide you with free legal information, advice and referrals. There are no income screens for this service. Issues addressed usually “concern Medicare, Medicaid and Medicaid estate recovery, living wills, durable powers of attorney for health care, and consumer problems.” An intake worker will take down your basic information and a hotline attorney will call you back. If your issue cannot be resolved over the phone, you will be referred to an appropriate provider. Pro Seniors also has staff attorneys in Cincinnati that can assist with issues including “Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, other government benefits, and protective services.” Here are some legal information pamphlets that Pro Seniors has developed that may be of use to you or your loved ones.
Note: Under the supervision of faculty, law students provide legal assistance through a variety of clinics at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you may want to check into the Indigent Defense Clinic. For domestic violence issues, the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic may be able to help.
Note: This organization is primarily focused on job skills training and employment assistance, but through that work, they have a legal advocate who can assist members with issues including expungement of criminal records, license reinstatement, child custody and visitation, housing and more.