Last updated: September 26, 2013
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 Milwaukee county residents. The main ways are through legal assistance programs such as the Legal Aid Society Of Milwaukee, one of the oldest nonprofit law firms in the country providing free legal aid to low-income residents, or through other programs run by the Wisconsin Bar Association and law school clinics. 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 issue, consumer complaints, landlord-tenant disputes, building code issues and complaints about lawyers or judges.
Areas of Law: Most areas of civil law including Landlord-Tenant, Education Law (including Special Education), Mediation and Collaborative Services, Consumer Small Claims Law, Bankruptcy, Juvenile Law, ChiPS and JiPS Cases, Family Law, Foreclosure Defense, Criminal Law, Municipal Defense
Good to Know: This is a nonprofit law firm serving low-income residents of Milwaukee County. Legal fees are based upon income. Call for more details.
Areas of Law: Criminal, Consumer, Family, and Probate
Good to Know: This is a legal referral service run by the Wisconsin State Bar. They assist people whose income is too high to qualify for free legal services, but too low to pay a lawyer’s standard rate.
Good to Know: Income limits apply. Legal Action will not provide help with: Criminal, Selective Service, School Desegregation, Voter Redistricting, Class Action, Welfare Reform, Access to Abortion, Personal Injury, Undocumented Aliens, and help for prisoners.
Areas of Law: Confidentiality, Consumer and Creditor/Debtor Issues, Disability Benefits, Discrimination, Estate planning, Landlord and tenant disputes, and Power of Attorney for Health, Care/Advance Directives.
Good to Know: There are no income limits. Services include legal, financial, housing, and rent assistance.
Good to Know: The clinic provides free assistance for any unrepresented Wisconsin resident in the Eastern District filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is a walk-in clinic, only. Arrive early to sign up. There’s a sign-in form outside of room 133B and each person will be called in turn.
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Employment, Housing, Public Benefits, Police Misconduct, and more.
Good to Know: Legal services are available to low-income African Americans and other minority groups.
Area of Law: Family, Misdemeanor Criminal
Good to Know: Most clients pay a flat fee on a sliding scale based upon income.
Good to Know: This office provides free legal assistance to disabled persons regardless of income. It does not provide legal assistance for bankruptcies, traffic tickets, criminal cases or family law issues like child custody, child support or divorce.
Areas of Law: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Family Law
Good to Know: This is a walk-in clinic staffed by volunteer attorneys. They provide help unrepresented litigants fill out court forms. Call for hours. They do not provide legal services over the phone.
Good to Know: They provide advocacy, legal assistance, and support for survivors of sexual assaults, domestic violence, and other abuse. Courthouse office provides assistance and time for and obtaining domestic violence and child abuse restraining orders.
Area of Law: Traffic, Driver’s License suspensions and revocations
Good to Know: This agency’s primary focus is on case management and legal services to help low-income Milwaukee County residents recover a suspended or revoked driver’s license. Check eligibility requirements.
Area of Law: Women, Employment Discrimination
Good to Know: This is an employment discrimination hotline only. They provide information on legal rights including family leave, discrimination, and harassment including strategies to win fair treatment on the job.
Area of Law: Housing, Landlord/Tenant issues
Good to Know: TRC offers free counseling by telephone to tenants and landlords concerning rental rights and responsibilities. Information on state and local rental laws and regulations and lease screening services are available at TRC. They also refer clients to other agencies if necessary.
Areas of Law: Family-based immigration, Religious immigration, INA Sec. 203 North American and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), Asylum and Temporary Protected Status, Relief for Immigrant Victims of Crime and Domestic Violence, Naturalization Representation in immigration court, cancellation of removal, bond hearings, and VAWA cancellation of removal, Special juvenile immigrant petitions
Good to Know: Fees are on a sliding scale based upon income.
Area of Law: Immigration, Naturalization, Adjustment of Status for Refugees and Non-Refugees, Travel Documents, and Petitions for Family Members
Good to Know: Services are by appointment only with walk-in hours on Fridays. There is a small consultation fee. Call to learn more.
Area of Law: Wills, Power of Attorney
Good to Know: The program offers free legal services by licensed attorneys to people in hospice care that are mentally capable and low income. The attorney will draw up end of life documentation (wills, power of attorney documents) for free. To qualify for pro bono assistance, the patient does have to be mentally coherent and must be referred through a social worker. The patient must also be on some type of public assistance program or be low-income as determined by the patient's Hospice facility's assigned social worker
Areas of Law: Landlord/Tenant, Consumer Finance, Guardianship, Civilian Employment, Misdemeanor Criminal Offenses, and Estate Planning.
Good to Know: To qualify for free legal assistance, you must be low-income and veterans, active duty military personnel, National Guard or Reserve. Referrals for legal assistance at reduced cost may also be available for those who do not qualify for free legal help.
Areas of Law: Landlord-Tenant, Credit & Consumer, Family Law, Domestic Abuse, Social Security, Small Claims, Municipal Violations, Employment, Workers Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, Immigration (Hillview Clinic only)
Good to Know: Marquette Law School runs several clinics in the Milwaukee area. Call to learn more. Volunteer attorneys and Marquette University law students provide free brief legal advice and referral services, but no ongoing representation.