Last updated: October 25, 2013
If you need legal help but don’t have enough money to hire a private attorney, you've come to the right place. We've compiled a list of agencies and organizations in the Portland and Vancouver area that specialize in offering lower income individuals legal advice, referrals, and, sometimes, direct representation. So whether you need immigration assistance, a child support order modification, want to mediate a workplace dispute, or need help with some other matter, check out these providers to see whether you can work together to get things sorted out. Many require that you meet income eligibility guidelines in order to receive services, but some operate on a sliding scale, depending on what you can pay.
Note: This non-profit organization (“LASO”) provides representation in civil matters to low-income and senior clients throughout Oregon. The office in Portland is the central administrative office and practice areas throughout the state include: consumer, education, family law, government benefits, housing, individual rights, protection from abuse, seniors, and tax issues for individuals. In addition, LASO runs a Farmworker Program (employment and housing law assistance for migrant workers) as well as a Native American Program (council for tribes and tribe members). LASO also operates two statewide hotlines: Child Support: 1-800-383-1222 and Public Benefits: 1-800-520-5292.
Note: This organization (“CCVLP”) provides free legal assistance to low-income and senior individuals with civil issues in the Clark County, WA courts. In order to access their services, you start by either calling the CLEAR hotline or accessing CLEAR ONLINE. The CLEAR Hotline (1-888-201-1014) is staffed Monday through Friday 9:15 am to 12:15 pm. If you are 60 years or older, you may use the CLEAR Senior Hotline at 1-888-387-7111. A screener will determine whether you qualify for services based on your issue and income. You will then speak with a volunteer attorney. If you need further services you may be referred to a program in your area or back to CCVLP.
Note: If you think your matter may be able to be resolved by mediation, this non-profit organization provides assistance with business and contract disputes, neighborhood disputes, workplace disputes, small claims, landlord/tenant disputes, parenting plans and home foreclosures. The first consultation is free and there is a sliding scale for subsequent sessions. You may be eligible for a fee reduction under Washington law. Check out the fee information here.
Note: This organization (“SALC”) helps “bridge the gap for families who do not qualify for Legal Aid and cannot afford to hire a private attorney.” Their practice area is family law and they can assist with child support, divorce, guardianship, spousal support, child custody/visitation, family abuse prevention, paternity and step-parent adoptions. English and Spanish speaking attorneys are available. Counties served include Multnomah and Clackamas. They also have a Hillsboro office (503-648-1600), which serves Washington, Yamhill and Columbia counties.
Note: This non-profit organization (“DRO”) assists disabled people with “legal problems directly related to their disabilities.” If you need help, you may call them or fill out an intake form on-line. An Intake Specialist will be your first contact and may help you with basic legal information and referral to DRO’s assortment of publications regarding disability law. There is also a legal staff that may be able to provide representation or assistance. Note that there are specified legal areas that DRO does not handle even if they are related to a disability - this includes workers’ compensation, criminal matters, personal injury, bankruptcy, and family law among others.
Note: The mission of this non-profit law firm is “to provide immigration assistance to low income people by helping families apply for reunification, assisting people fleeing persecution, and educating people about the citizenship process.” You are eligible for services if you earn up to 200% of the Federal poverty guidelines and assistance is available in English, Spanish, German and French. To start the process, you fill out a Consultation Request Form which you submit to their office. You will be contacted within 2 weeks to discuss next steps.
Note: This organization provides legal assistance with immigration matters including: family visas, naturalization, asylum, deferred action through childhood arrivals, removal defense through immigration and federal courts, domestic violence assistance, temporary protected status, visas for crime victims, and assistance to human trafficking survivors. Assistance is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Domestic violence survivors can call at any time for assistance. For general assistance, call the office on the first Tuesday of the month at 9:00 am to schedule a consultation.
Note: This clinic does not accept walk-in clients, but may be able to assist you with evictions, Chapter 7 bankruptcies, child support modifications, domestic violence cases, or tax controversies with the IRS. Check here for eligibility and fee information. Legal representation here is by law students under the supervision of faculty members.
Note: This clinic provides business transactional legal advice to small businesses, especially those owned by minorities, women and recent immigrants. They have both an intern program where law students work under the guidance of law professors and a pro bono program which employs practicing business attorneys.