When you are faced with a legal issue, navigating the law by yourself can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Library patrons often come to the Social Science department in need of do-it-yourself law books, as well as law books written in layperson’s terms. We have numerous books on a variety of legal issues, but sometimes you need the guidance of a professional attorney. Unfortunately, the cost of hiring a lawyer prohibits this as an option for many people. Luckily, many attorneys donate their time, expertise, and talent to a number of pro bono legal organizations. “Pro bono” is an abbreviated form of “pro bono publico,” a Latin term that means "for the public good." Pro bono legal work is performed by attorneys without compensation for worthy cases or causes.
One method for locating a pro bono lawyer is the Rainbow Resource Directory – ask for it at the reference desk of our department. If you need help to get started in your search, read ahead for a few of many pro bono legal assistance programs available.
The following organizations offer a wide range of legal practice areas:
3250 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Bet Tzedek offers legal aid in six categories: consumer rights, elder law, Holocaust reparations, housing, public benefits, and workers’ rights, and holds a clinic every Wednesday at 5:00 at their Wilshire Blvd. office for employment rights cases.
Inner City Law Center (ICLC)
1309 E. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Client Intake Center
Inner City Law Center at the Weingart Hope Row Resource Center
501 East Sixth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
ICLC offers services in six areas: healthy homes, homeless veterans, homelessness prevention, public benefits, housing policy, and the HIV/AIDS law project.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)
See website or call toll free number to identify the office appropriate to your needs:
Main phone – (800) 399-4529
LAFLA provides legal services in a multitude of areas, including Asian and Pacific Islander services, community economic development, consumer law, housing and eviction defense, family law, employment law, immigration law, and government benefits. Within each umbrella category are a number of subcategories, including the Veterans Justice Center in the government benefits program.
These next organizations offer more specialized legal assistance:
Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC)
800 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Central intake line – (213) 736-1334
Nationwide toll free number – (866) 999-DRLC (3752)
DRLC practice areas include a cancer rights program and civil rights program. This organization provides community advocacy, disability litigation, education advocacy, an HIV law and policy project, and a program focusing on the Inland Empire. DRLC offers legal representation for discrimination, mistreatment, or harassment on the basis of disability.
Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
New address (not updated on website yet):
1220 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center programs include document preparation, transgender economic empowerment project, hate crimes, and domestic violence. Among those eligible for assistance are those who were discriminated against due to gender identity and/or sexual orientation; victims of partner abuse, harassment, or hate violence; those who need help with immigration or citizenship; and transgender people requiring employment assistance.
Mental Health Advocacy Services
3255 Wilshire Blvd. #902
Los Angeles, CA 90010
This organization is dedicated to providing legal assistance to those with mental and/or developmental disabilities. Projects include special education outreach, fair housing advocacy, government benefits/access to mental health services, juvenile advocacy, impact litigation, and discrimination reduction.
It’s nice to know you don’t have to face legal issues alone!