Free Legal Advice ClinicsSome counties have free legal advice clinics where you may be able to talk to a volunteer lawyer about your case for free for 15-30 minutes. The volunteer lawyers do not represent you. Some of the free legal advice clinics may only help with certain legal issues, and some may have income restrictions.
 
To see if there is a free legal advice clinic in your county that fits your situation, visit the Legal Advice Clinics Help Topic
 
Free or Lower-Cost Legal Services - CivilIf you have a lower income, you may qualify for free or lower-cost legal services, including full representation. The following is a list of various resources for free or lower-cost legal services available statewide.
 
LawHelpMN.org: Offers a statewide online directory to search for free or lower-cost civil legal services based on your location and/or legal issue. You can choose the LawHelpMN Guide to go through a short interview and get legal information and referrals or search providers and clinics directly.
 
MN Unbundled Law Project through the MN State Bar Association: Offers a directory of lawyers who offer “unbundled” legal services (also known as “limited scope services”). “Unbundled” means that the lawyer will work on a specific task for you, and you would only pay a fee for that specific task instead of hiring them for the entire case. For example, the lawyer could review your court papers, go to court with you, or give you their expert opinion about your legal rights and options.
 
Legal Corps: Offers free legal help for lower-income small businesses & non-profits.
 
MN Disability Law Center: Offers free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities statewide, regardless of age or income, on legal issues related to their disabilities.
 
Estate and Elder Law Service (Volunteers of America MN): Offers reduced rate legal services. Areas of law include trusts, estate planning, probate, powers of attorney, health care directives, supportive decision making, guardianship, conservatorship, medical assistance planning, and some real estate.
 
The Volunteers of America hosts a virtual guardianship clinic the first Wednesday of every month from 12-2 p.m. for individuals in all MN counties. Social workers and attorneys are available to talk with families about guardianship, supported decision making, and other less restrictive alternatives to guardianship. No appointments are needed, but please complete a registration form to help with planning.
 
The Volunteers of America MN's Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making offers a Guardianship Information Line as a free resource for families, individuals, and professionals to consult with a guardianship specialist about Supported Decision Making and other less restrictive alternatives as well as guardianship.
 
Free or Lower-Cost Legal Services - CriminalIf you have a lower income, you may qualify for free or lower-cost legal services, including full representation. The following is a list of various resources free or lower-cost criminal defense legal services.
 
Public Defender’s Office: Offers free legal representation in criminal and juvenile delinquency cases.
 
Criminal Defense Service Inc.: Offers reduced rate criminal defense services for people with cases in Ramsey County.
 
Neighborhood Justice Center: Offers reduced rate criminal defense services for people who have a case in Ramsey County or the East Metro area.
 
The Legal Rights Center: Offers free criminal and juvenile defense services for people who have a case in Hennepin County.
 
Indian Legal Assistance Program: Offers free or reduced rate legal services to lower income individuals in criminal and civil matters in St. Louis County, Lake County, Cook County, Aitkin County, Carlton County, and Bois Forte Tribal Court.
 
Regional Native Public Defense Corporation: Offers free or reduced rate legal representation in criminal matters in Cass County, Becker County, Clearwater County, Beltrami County, Mahnomen County, and Itasca County.
 
Hiring and Paying a LawyerIf there is not a free legal advice clinic or free or lower-cost legal service that can help you with your situation, you may need to hire and pay a lawyer.
 
Legal issues can often have long-lasting impacts, including financial impacts. Hiring a lawyer to help you may be more affordable than you think, and it may protect you from doing something that cannot be undone. You should think seriously about whether or not to hire a lawyer.
 
It is a good idea to talk with more than one lawyer before you decide which one to hire. Many lawyers will offer a free consultation where you can talk to them for 30-60 minutes for free to help you decide if you want to hire and pay them.
 
There are different ways to pay for legal services, so when you first meet with a lawyer, you should talk about their fees and put any fee agreement in writing. This written agreement is often called a “representation agreement” or “retainer agreement.”
 
There are different ways legal fees may be charged. The fee structure a lawyer uses may depend on the type of case.
 
“Limited scope or unbundled services” means that the lawyer will work on a specific task for you, and you would only pay a fee for that specific task instead of hiring them for the entire case. For example, the lawyer could review your court papers, go to court with you, or give you their expert opinion about your legal rights and options. Not all lawyers offer “limited scope” or “unbundled” services. Review the Other Lawyer Referral Resources tab for information on finding a lawyer who offers unbundled services.
 
Depending on the type of case, you may be able to hire a lawyer on a “flat fee,” “sliding scale fee,” or “contingency fee" basis.
 
 A “flat fee” means the lawyer will charge one fee for all of their work on the case and should tell you what the fee is before starting the work.
 
 A “sliding scale fee” means the lawyer charges different fees depending upon your income.
 
 A “contingency fee” means the lawyer will represent you in the case, but you do not pay a fee for the legal services up front. Usually, the lawyer only gets paid if you succeed in your case and the payment comes from money awarded to you in the case.
 
 An “hourly fee” means the lawyer will charge you an amount of money per hour. With hourly fees, the lawyer keeps track of all of the time they spend on your case and then bills you for that time based on their hourly rate.
 
Other Lawyer Referral SourcesYou can find a lawyer by getting referrals from someone you trust such as a friend or family member. You can also find a lawyer through the following referral resources.
 
MN State Law Library: Offers online directories to search for legal referrals based on location and/or legal issue.
 
MN State Bar Association (MSBA): Offers an online directory of Minnesota lawyers who are members of the MSBA. You can search for a lawyer by practice area, name, and/or location. 
 
Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service: Has referral staff who can help you find a lawyer who practices the kind of law you need help with and who will provide a 30 minute consultation. They may charge a small fee for this service.  They also offer an online “Self-Referral” service that is available 24/7.  Sponsored by the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Bar Associations.
 
Anoka County Bar Association: Offers a “Membership Directory” you can use to search for a lawyer by practice area.