Every county has free legal services for seniors under the federal Older Americans Act. The programs differ, however, and their criteria for accepting cases vary as well. These programs typically assist those in the greatest need, such as seniors facing eviction or the loss of public benefits.
If your county's legal services program cannot assist you, ask a friend, co-worker or business associate to recommend a lawyer, or call a State Bar-certified lawyer referral service. For an online list of certified referral services, go to the State Bar's website at www.calbar.ca.gov/lrs or call 866-44-CA-LAW (442-2529) for a recorded message with the phone numbers of certified services in your county. Out-of-state callers can call 415-538-2250 to hear the same message. Also check the Yellow Pages of a telephone directory for a listing.
The State Bar also certifies "specialists" in 11 legal areas. For lists of specialists, go to www.californiaspecialist.org. Keep in mind, however, that there are experienced attorneys who do not seek such certification. For more information on finding an attorney, order a free copy of the State Bar pamphlet How Can I Find and Hire the Right Lawyer? (See Resources.)
If you are a California resident age 60 or older, you may get free legal advice by calling the Senior Legal Hotline (see Resources). If you have a legal problem, it is best to consult a qualified attorney. But if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, there are other resources. You could, for example, seek guidance from your county law librarian. Law librarians cannot give legal advice, but they can direct you to the appropriate resources and legal forms for your matter. You will also find useful information on many legal topics on California's legal services website (lawhelpca.org) and the California Courts' self-help web page (www.courts.ca.gov).
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