Many professional attorneys offer a free initial consultation for potential clients, but this is not always the same as offering free legal advice. While the initial meeting may be free, the attorney is often simply evaluating the merits of the case and any possible out-of-court settlements. Any subsequent meetings can be considered billable. What many people need is legal advice on matters ranging from immigration status to bankruptcy to civil lawsuits that is truly free. This kind of information is readily available in many countries around the world, but locating sources is not always easy.
One source of free legal advice is as close as your telephone. Different companies sponsor pre-recorded legal and medical topics as part of an interactive phone service. These services may be listed in standard phone books, either as a separate section or within the advertising section. Callers can receive free advice by dialing the special code corresponding to any of the the assorted topics. Some of the information may only be general, but many people find answers to basic legal questions by listening to the recordings.
Another source of free legal advice is often provided to those whose incomes fall under a certain level. Local human resource departments may sponsor legal aid centers for those who cannot afford to hire an attorney themselves. These centers are usually staffed by younger attorneys or other legal professionals who are required to work pro bono, meaning for the good of the community. These attorneys can offer free advice on most legal matters, along with legal representation during court proceedings.
A new source of free legal advice has emerged with the growth of the Internet. A number of websites now feature advice from established professional lawyers, judges and educators. Some of this exists in the form of pre-existing topics, similar to those found in the phone service mentioned earlier.
Other online services allow users to pose legal questions in online chatrooms or message boards. These posts are usually answered by legal experts or by other participants who have faced similar circumstances. Some free websites allow subscribers to email participating professionals directly for specific advice and counseling.