Solicitors

The Gov.uk website links to searchable databases of legal advisers provided by the Law Society. Local libraries will often have directories of solicitors.

Citizens Advice

Free, independent and confidential advice about a range of legal issues online, by phone and through over 3,000 locations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Law Centres

Law Centres offer free, independent legal advice within their local communities. Law Centres tend to specialise in social welfare law, but may also cover other areas of work. The Law Centres Network website provides an online search facility.

Pro bono legal help

Pro bono assistance is legal advice and representation provided voluntarily, and often free of charge, generally for those unable to pay and who are ineligible for legal aid. Organisations which provide pro bono legal help include:

  • The Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • LawWorks (the solicitors’ pro bono organisation), which connects people in need of legal advice and assistance with the skills and expertise of pro bono lawyers
  • The Free Representation Unit, which works with about 200 referral agencies to deliver pro bono legal services in employment, social security and some criminal injury compensation cases

University law clinics

Some universities provide free legal advice through law clinics. See, for example:

An internet search of ‘University Law Clinics’ along with the area you live in should bring up details of such clinics nearby.

Legal aid in England and Wales

An individual who needs help to pay for legal advice or representation may sometimes be eligible for assistance though the legal aid scheme. Legal aid is available for some civil and criminal matters. The Law Society’s website lists matters which may be eligible for legal aid.

In summary, the matter will need to be within scope of the legal aid scheme and the individual must fulfil the financial eligibility criteria. In some cases, those in receipt of legal aid may be required to make a contribution to their legal costs.

The Gov.uk website provides further information on legal aid and an online eligibility checker, which provides guidance but not a decision on eligibility for civil legal aid. Check if you can get legal aid.

The Legal Aid Agency has published information explaining when someone may be asked to contribute to their legal aid costs: Paying for your civil legal aid (pdf) (published 1 June 2014).

The Gov.UK website provides a tool to search for legal advisers and family mediators with legal aid contracts in England and Wales: Find a legal adviser or family mediator.

Self-representation

You will generally have the right to act on your own behalf in legal matters, including representing yourself in court (that is, as “litigants in person”).

Information for litigants in person is available online including:

Source for this page: House of Commons Library research service

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