Legal Aid/Legal Services in Tennessee

What is Legal Aid? Can it help you?

Legal Aid cannot help everyone with every legal problem. There are some types of cases Legal Aid does not handle including criminal cases and fee-generating cases, like car accidents in which you want to make the other person pay for your injuries or the damage to your car.

Legal Aid can help with many civil law cases. They may be able to help you if you are having a problem with your landlord, food stamps, Families First (welfare), TennCare, Medicare; health care or family problems, especially related to domestic violence. Even if Legal Aid cannot represent you directly in a case, they may be able to tell you where to get help or give you advice that will help you handle the case yourself.

Most legal service organizations also have "Pro Bono" programs. Many private attorneys have agreed to help provide free legal help to low income persons through this program. Your case may be referred to a volunteer attorney who will represent you free of charge through the Pro Bono program.

Some people who are in low-income households can get free legal help from Legal Aid offices. When you call the office, you will be asked about your income and the income of others in your home. Your income must be under the current poverty guidelines to make you eligible. If you are within the guidelines, you will be asked about the type of legal problem that you have. If it is the type of problem they can handle, you can then talk to one of the lawyers or to a paralegal.

The Legal Aid offices do not charge for the legal help that is given. You may have to pay court costs to take a case to court. You may also have to pay for some other expenses, such as, copies of records, court reporters, and so forth. However, you will not be charged for the attorney's or paralegal's time or advice.

The website and a toll-free telephone hotline at 888-HELP4TN or (888) 395-9297 both offer information and access to referrals and legal advice and TN Free Legal Answers matches individuals with volunteer attorneys.

Bar associations, the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission and legal aid and community organizations across the state also support standing legal clinics throughout the year.

There are several legal aid organizations in Tennessee. These organizations are not-for-profit law offices that give certain types of free legal help to people who cannot afford to pay a lawyer:

Memphis Area Legal Services

West Tennessee Legal Services

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands

Legal Aid of East Tennessee

Community Legal Center

Tennessee Justice Center

Disability Law & Advocacy Center

Southern Migrant Legal Services

Justice for Our Neighbors of Tennessee