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What is Legal Aid?

Created July 2013

Legal Aid is free legal help for people who do not have very much money.

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Lawyers divide legal problems into 2 groups, criminal and civil.

If you have committed a crime or you are accused of committing a crime, your legal problem is a “criminal” one. Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) lawyers help people who have a criminal legal problem.

If your legal problem is not a criminal one it is a civil legal problem. Legal Services lawyers help people who have civil legal problems.

You can find legal services programs across the state.

What kinds of problems do legal services help with?

Legal services programs help people with non-criminal problems like:

Can I get it?

To get legal aid, you must have a low income. Also your the legal problem you have must be one that your legal services programs can help with. Legal services programs have very little funding. They can only work on a small number of legal problems at a time.

How low does my income have to be?

In general, your household income must be less than 125% percent of the federal poverty level. If you are 60 years old or older, or you are trying to get public benefits, your income may be higher.

How can I get civil legal aid?

Use the Legal Resource Finder to find legal aid.You can find out if programs in your area are taking new clients. Massachusetts does not have enough lawyers for all the people who need legal help. We cannot help everyone, even if you have a low income.

What if legal services program cannot help me?

You can get legal information and self-help tools from our statewide websites.

Start here with We have information in clear, easy to understand language. You can learn about many of the most common civil legal problems, in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Russian, Haitian Creole and Chinese. It can help you understand your situation and take steps to solve your problem.

You can also get information from This website is intended for legal services advocates, but you may find it helpful, especially if you are going to a hearing on your own.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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