Find Legal Assistance at Your Local Law Library
Despite being incredible assets to their surrounding communities, law libraries continue to be underfunded. It is essential to recognize their services and discuss what makes law libraries stand out. Law libraries significantly support lawyers and their staff, but their services to the community are also vital. Law libraries provide accessible and affordable legal services to the public. Here are just a few law library services available in many communities.
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Free Do-It-Yourself Clinics
The Katherine R. Everett Law Library at the University of North Carolina School of Law offers free do-it-yourself clinics that discuss various legal topics. Some of their free clinics teach participants about child custody actions, how to determine the eligibility of a criminal record expunction, and how to file for divorce without the assistance of a lawyer. Their featured clinics are free for all patrons if they register in advance.
Lawyer Referral Services
Many law libraries offer lawyer referral services. Lawyer referral services help community members find attorneys. Patrons can utilize these services for various legal needs such as family law, personal injury, or criminal law. Lawyer referral services also ensure patrons receive appropriate legal assistance for their specific needs.
Self-Help Resource Centers
Self-help resource centers are another shared service offered by many law libraries. These offer free legal support to litigants who don’t have an attorney. As needs have increased, self-help resources have expanded beyond their original services. For example, the Civil Self-Help Center (CSHC) of the Sacramento County Public Law Library is dedicated to civil litigation matters.
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Legal Aid Agencies
Several law libraries offer legal aid agencies that provide free legal services to community members below a specific income level. These are typically non-profit organizations that provide their services to eligible individuals, specializing in family safety and government benefits. A law librarian can assist patrons with inquiries regarding eligibility and provide contact information for local organizations.
The Los Angeles Law Library participates in a unique program called the Los Angeles Incubator Consortium (LAIC), which assists attorneys interested in starting a solo practice. They combine their expertise with the community’s needs by allowing them to provide affordable legal services at the LA Law Library. The LAIC also collaborates with legal aid organizations and nearby law schools to assist community members with various legal needs.