This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
Legal help or advice should be given by a suitably qualified person with professional liability insurance.
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The following information and more detail can be found in the Library briefing paper Legal help: where to go and how to pay.
Finding legal help
Local libraries will often have directories of solicitors.
Individuals generally have the right to act on their own behalf in legal matters, including representing themselves in court (as “litigants in person“). Information for litigants in person is available online including:
- Advicenow’s guides to going to a court or tribunal without a lawyer
- The Bar Council, A Guide to Representing Yourself in Court
- His Honour Judge Bailey (Editor-in-Chief) and others, A Handbook for Litigants in Person
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice about a range of legal issues. Advice can be sought online, by phone and at 3,000 locations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
There is an online search facility for finding a local bureau:
- www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ (England and Wales)
- www.cas.org.uk/bureaux (Scotland)
- www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland/ (Northern Ireland)
Law Centres offer free and independent legal advice within their local communities. Law Centres tend to specialise in social welfare law but may also cover other areas of work. The Law Centres Network website provides an online search facility:
Pro Bono legal help
Pro bono assistance is legal advice and representation provided voluntarily, generally for those unable to pay and who are ineligible for legal aid. Organisations which provide pro bono legal help include:
- Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit), which matches people needing help with barristers willing to donate their time and expertise
- LawWorks (the solicitors’ pro bono organisation), which connects people in need of legal advice and assistance with volunteer lawyers
- The Free Representation Unit, which works with about 200 referral agencies to deliver pro bono legal services in employment, social security and some criminal injury compensation cases
Some trade unions may provide free legal help and assistance to their members as part of their membership. Information about the help individual unions provide may be available from their websites.
University law clinics
Some universities provide free legal advice through law clinics. See, for example:
- The University of Law’s pro bono programme
- The University of Birmingham’s Free Legal Advice Group
- University of Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre
Advice on specific legal issues
A number of organisations provide help and advice in connection with specific legal issues. Some examples are provided below.
The charity Age UK provides advice and information on its website and through its advice line (0800 169 2081) about a range of issues relevant to older people.
Asylum Support Appeals Project
Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) offers free legal representation and advice to asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers appealing against Home Office decisions to refuse or withdraw their housing, financial subsistence, or both (0203 716 0283).
Bail for Immigration Detainees
Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) is an independent charity that represents some detainees at bail hearings for free and provides free legal advice and representation to people who are challenging their deportation (020 7247 3590).
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CLC) is a charity which states that it provides free legal information, advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals, as well as training and consultancy on child law and children’s rights.
Disability Law Service
The Disability Law Service is a charity which provides free information and advice in areas such as community care and employment law (020 7791 9800).
Equality Advisory Support Service
The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) provides an advice service for individuals who need information about discrimination and human rights issues (0808 800 0082).
INQUEST provides specialist advice to bereaved families on cases involving a death in custody or detention or involving state failures (020 7263 1111).
Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service provides free and impartial advice about personal finances through its website and helpline (0800 138 7777).
The National Debtline is a free and confidential helpline offering independent advice on how to deal with debt problems in England and Wales (0808 808 4000).
The National Debtline has a separate website for people living in Scotland, as the law on debt varies across the UK.
Prisoners’ Advice Service
The Prisoners’ Advice Service is a charity offering information and free legal advice to adult prisoners in England and Wales (0845 430 8923 or 020 7253 3323).
The charity Refugee Action provides help and advice about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support and assisted voluntary return (0808 8000 630).
Rights of women
The charity, Rights of Women, provides free and confidential legal advice to women on issues such as family law (020 7251 6577), criminal law (020 7251 8887) and immigration (020 7490 7689).
The charity Shelter provides information and advice on their website and through their helpline (0808 800 4444) about issues such as housing, repossessions and evictions.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.