|LOW INCOME LEGAL ASSISTANCE |
LOW INCOME LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Nebraska has limited resources and programs available to provide free legal assistance to everyone who needs a lawyer. Most legal aid programs screen applicants for eligibility. Programs generally have established income and asset guidelines and each case must fit within the priorities established by the program. Not all persons who qualify financially will be able to receive assistance. Most programs have limited staff and volunteer resources to assist everyone who applies for legal assistance.
Typically, a request for free or reduced-fee legal services starts with a telephone, online, or in-person intake. The program will assess your legal situation to determine if it can assist you. Cases may be handled by attorneys in the program or referred to one of the program's volunteer attorneys.
The following information is helpful if you need but cannot afford an attorney for a civil legal matter.
Nebraska State Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project
Created in 1982, the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) is the pro bono program of the Nebraska State Bar Association. For more than 35 years, VLP and its network of volunteers have worked to make the legal system accessible to low-income Nebraskans who need information, assistance, and representation from a Nebraska lawyer. In collaboration with Legal Aid of Nebraska and other legal aid service providers, VLP identifies unmet civil, legal needs to develop programs that help Nebraskans access the courts and our system of justice. VLP’s primary areas of assistance are family and consumer law. VLP does not assist with criminal cases, appeals, or all civil law areas.
To learn more about services available through the Volunteer Lawyers Project, call the VLP information line at (402) 742-8136 for a recorded message. Current VLP programs include:
Referral to a Volunteer Lawyer
If your total household income places you below 125% of the Federal Poverty Income guidelines and you have a non-criminal legal problem, you may be eligible to receive information, assistance, or representation by a volunteer attorney. To apply for pro bono representation by a lawyer, contact Legal Aid of Nebraska at 1-877-250-2016 or apply online at www.legalaidofnebraska.org. If you qualify for legal aid services but Legal Aid is unable to assist you, it may refer your application to VLP. Not all applications for legal assistance qualify for placement with a volunteer attorney. VLP does not accept requests for assistance by email, telephone, or by visiting the Nebraska State Bar Association office.
The purpose of a Self-Help Center is to educate and inform eligible low-income persons about the civil legal process in Nebraska courts. If your household income is below 125% of the federal poverty income guidelines, you may meet with a volunteer attorney for general information about the law and civil court process. Volunteers are not employees the Nebraska State Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, local bar associations, the Self-Help Center or the Courts.
Attorneys at a Self-Help Center will:
Provide court forms, if available, including instructions for completing the forms
Review completed court forms (volunteers will not complete the forms for you)
Provide general information about the civil court process
Answer general questions about family law, tenant law, guardianship, debtor and small claims
Provide general information about legal service providers that serve low-income persons
Attorneys at a Self-Help Center will not:
Appear with you in court
Provide information or court forms for criminal matters
Provide legal advice or legal strategies specific to your legal situation
Discuss, research, or investigate the facts of your case
Provide ongoing assistance with your legal situation
Self-Help Center Locations: Dates and times of each center are subject to change without notice based on the availability of volunteer attorneys to meet with individuals. Notices will be posted on the door, where applicable. Self-Help Centers are closed when the court is closed and when volunteers are not available.
Buffalo County: First Friday of the month, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The Self-Help Desk is located in the Buffalo County Courthouse, 1512 Central Avenue in Kearney. Check in with the District Court's Office, window #4. No appointment is needed. Visitors are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Douglas County: Monday and Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The Self-Help Desk is located directly across from the Douglas County Law Library. Follow the connector-hallway between the Douglas County Courthouse and the First Floor Hall of Justice, 17th and Farnam Street in Omaha. No appointment is needed. Visitors are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hall County: Fridays, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Self-Help Desk is located on the lower level of the Hall County Courthouse (across from Courtroom #3) at 111 West First Street in Grand Island. No appointment is needed. Visitors are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lancaster County: Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. to Noon
The Self-Help Desk is located off the Jury Lounge on the third floor at the Lancaster County Courthouse at 575 South 10th Street in Lincoln. No appointment is needed. Visitors are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Madison County: Third Friday of each month, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The Self-Help Desk is located on the north side of the Courthouse, 1313 North Main Street, in Madison. Individuals needing assistance should check-in with the Clerk of the District Court's Office (first office at the courthouse entrance). No appointment is needed. Visitors are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Scotts Bluff County: First and third Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The Self-Help Desk is located in the Scotts Bluff County courthouse at 1725 10th Street, basement level. *Alternate calendar dates are posted on the door.
Nebraska Free Legal Answers Online
Online program where qualifying low-income Nebraskans can post a civil legal question for review and response by a Nebraska attorney. There is no cost to use this service. Users must meet certain financial, case-type, and use restrictions. Visit www.Ne.FreeLegalAnswers.org.
Additional Legal Services Information
The following information links to other Web sites. It is provided as a helpful resource only. The Nebraska State Bar Association makes no endorsement of the quality of services provided by any of the organizations listed below and makes no warranty about the accuracy of the information below or on the following Websites.
Legal Aid of Nebraska http://www.legalaidofnebraska.org/
Legal Aid of Nebraska is a non-profit law firm that provides free legal representation to underprivileged citizens. Apply Online or call 1-877-250-2016. Whether someone qualifies for services depends on your household income, your assets, and the type of legal problem you have. You may qualify for services through Legal Aid of Nebraska if your household income is 125% of the federal poverty legal and you have few assets. Go the Legal Aid of Nebraska Website to see the income guidelines. Some exceptions apply to the income guidelines. For example, if you are age 60 or older, the financial eligibility guidelines may not apply to you. Legal Aid of Nebraska cannot help you with a criminal case, personal injury case, or workers’ compensation case. Legal Aid of Nebraska's legal services are free; however, you may have to pay court costs. Apply Online or call 1-877-250-2016.
Law School Legal Clinics
Nebraska has two law schools: Creighton University School of Law in Omaha and University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln. Both law schools accept a limited number of cases only. Clients are represented by law students under the supervision of Law School faculty.
Creighton Law School Civil Legal Clinic
If you’re a Douglas County resident who falls within the Federal Poverty Guidelines and are involved with a civil matter (non-criminal), you may be eligible for free legal services through the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic. To apply, call 402-280-3068 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
University of Nebraska Law School Civil Law Clinic
The Civil Clinic handles a wide variety of civil cases for eligible low-income Nebraska residents. There is no charge for attorneys’ fees but clients may be responsible to pay a nominal administrative fee and court filing fees and costs if not eligible for a fee waiver from the court. To apply, call 402-472-3271.
University of Nebraska Law School Immigration Clinic
The Immigration Clinic handles certain types of immigration cases. The final decision regarding which types of cases and how many cases will be accepted by the Immigration Clinic rests with the faculty supervisor. There is no charge for attorneys’ fees but clients may be required to pay a nominal administrative fee and may be responsible for immigration filing fees or other legal costs imposed by Immigration or a court if they are not eligible for a fee waiver. To apply, call 402-472-3271.
Nebraska Online Legal Self-Help Center: https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/self-help/welcome
The Nebraska Judicial Branch provides an Online Self-Help Center with helpful information and links to legal resources to help you represent yourself in Nebraska Courts. The forms and information found on the Website are provided by the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Self-Represented Litigation as part of the Nebraska Supreme Court's commitment to ensuring that all Nebraskans have meaningful and full access to the judicial system, including those Nebraskans who represent themselves. The information on the Website is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact a lawyer licensed to practice law in Nebraska for legal advice on your legal situation.
American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska: https://www.aclunebraska.org
The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the United States Constitution and laws of Nebraska guarantee everyone in the Cornhusker state.
Disability Rights Nebraska: http://www.disabilityrightsnebraska.org
Investigates incidents of abuse and neglect and may provide legal representation to protect the legal and human rights of people with disabilities. Through a variety of other activities including public education, information and referral, and public policy analysis, Disability Rights Nebraska works to change public attitudes and increase public awareness of the legal and human rights of people with disabilities.
Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline http://www.nilah.org
This is a collaborative program among Catholic Charities, the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance, Justice for Our Neighbors (Nebraska), Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, and the Women's Center for Advancement. The Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline (NILAH) provides a centralized hotline and resources for low-income immigration legal assistance. Persons needing immigration legal assistance can contact NILAH for referral to a non-profit immigration legal service provider that can best meet the caller's needs in the shortest amount of time. Paralegals answer hotline calls, complete confidential intake screening forms, and refer people to the right organization in their area. NILAH paralegals can speak to callers in their native languages.