When you have a legal matter, it is rarely advisable to take care of legal matters without the help of a lawyer. But what if you cannot afford a lawyer? How do you find a lawyer if you don’t qualify for legal aid programs (pro bono/free lawyers) but cannot afford to pay full legal fees?
We offer several programs that may help you find a lawyer and a reduced cost.
Limited Scope Representation: when you hire the lawyer on a limited basis. More information provided below.
The Match Program: must be screened and income qualify for a lawyer who charges a reduced rate. More information provided below.
What is Limited Scope Representation?
When you are willing and able to represent yourself (pro se) in your family law matter but need advice and guidance from a lawyer on a limited basis, Limited Scope Representation may work for you.
Limited scope representation is a way that a lawyer can help you with part of your case while you do part of it yourself.
Lawyers May Help You with the Following
- Reviewing documents and correspondence
- Coaching you on possible outcome of a particular situation
- Assisting with negotiations
- Helping you prepare information in a format acceptable to the courts
- Educating you on court procedures
- If there are things you can do yourself (create documents, gather information or appear at hearings), you will save money on legal fees
- If you need help, the lawyer will assist when needed
- you and your lawyer will agree on certain tasks and you both will work only on those tasks
- You and your lawyer work as a team
Is Limited Scope right for you?
Should you represent yourself? Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you on time for meetings and deadlines?
- Are you available to be at the courthouse during business hours?
- Do you complete your own tax returns?
- Are you comfortable doing research on a computer or in a library?
- Can you be clear and calm when speaking in court?
- Do get stressed out or angry easily?
- Are you frustrated by rules and think they may not apply to you?
- Can you make decisions and stick to them (court decision can be long lasting)?
- Does the case involve children, large amounts of money, or is there physical or emotional abuse involved? (These issues are complicated when a lawyer would be useful.)
LRS provides information and assistance in deciding when to proceed with a lawyer or referral to a community service. Although some simple legal problems can be solved by self-help (using Texas court-approved forms), self-help is not a substitute for talking to or hiring a lawyer.
The Match Program
This program provides reduced-fee legal services to those with a modest income who may not be able to afford regular legal fees. The Match Program is currently available for family law matters, guardianship cases, and drafting simple wills. Most of our calls are for family law matters.
You must call the LRS office to qualify. Call (512) 472-8303 (in Austin) or toll free at (866) 303-8303. These referrals will not be made online.
Match Program lawyers are private-practicing lawyers who have agreed to consider accepting Match Program referrals at reduced rates. We do not provide free legal services.
The Match Program was created to help moderate-income Central Texans find affordable legal assistance. Eligibility for the program is based upon type of legal matter, applicant income and assets, and availability of participating lawyers. If you qualify for the program, the Match Program lawyer will charge you a reduced rate for legal work provided to you beyond the initial consultation.
Please note that the lawyer will receive a copy of the Match Program intake information and may ask additional questions to confirm your eligibility for the program. The lawyer has the final say in the qualification process.
The Match Program is not a pro bono or free program. You must be able to pay for any services you receive. If you are unable to pay these legal fees and costs, you should consider attending the local Legal Aid Clinic.
Qualifying for the Match Program
Our telephone intake counselor will ask questions to determine if you qualify under the Match Program income guidelines and will also explain the legal fees involved. Be prepared to provide income information from all sources. If you are referred to a lawyer, that lawyer will further screen you during the initial consultation or meeting to determine if you qualify. The lawyer is under no obligation to accept your case, and you have no obligation to hire him/her to represent you. If you do not qualify for the Match Program, we will try to refer you to another community service agency or legal services provider who may be able to assist you.
You will be charged a $20 fee for the first 30-minute meeting with the lawyer. You will explain your situation and the lawyer will explain services and potential costs. Consider the first consultation a mutual interview—you explain what you need to have done, and the lawyer will evaluate the next steps and explain legal fees. This is a time to evaluate your situation.
Match Program lawyers charge for all legal work done. This is not a free service. If you decide to hire the lawyer to represent you, he/she will require a deposit in advance—a retainer. The retainer is a deposit the lawyer requests in order to begin working on your case. The amount of the retainer will depend on the complexity of your case. You will also be responsible for any court fees and other direct costs, such as long-distance phone charges and photocopying expenses. Please request that the lawyer provide you with a written fee agreement before starting work on you case.
Write a list of question before your meeting with the lawyer. Remember you are paying for the time with the lawyer, so it is best to be prepared. Any questions involving your case should be directed to your lawyer.