In many communities, legal aid services are available to residents who are low income and cannot afford the high cost of legal advice and representation. Oftentimes, these services are offered for free or at a dramatically reduced price. In many cases, obtaining the best legal aid help has more to do with the person in need of help than the lawyer who helps him. An individual can make the most of legal aid help by getting assistance as soon as a problem arises, being honest with the legal aid lawyer, and diligently following the lawyer's advice.
In most places, a person who wants to use legal aid services has to demonstrate eligibility. Often, this involves showing proof of income and providing other finance-related information that is critical to establishing need. For example, a legal aid service may consider how much gross income a person has along with the number of people for whom he is financially responsible in evaluating financial need. A legal aid service may also consider whether or not a case has merit and other factors when evaluating eligibility.
Often, an individual who is determined eligible for legal aid help has little-to-no choice in which lawyer is assigned to him. The good news is legal aid lawyers are typically well-educated and highly-trained. They may also be subject to supervision and reviews that help ensure they are providing adequate legal help.
There are some legal aid services that do allow a person some say so in deciding which legal aid lawyer will represent him. In some places, for example, legal aid services allow recipients to choose private lawyers, agreeing to pay the lawyers for an approved number of hours of legal help. In such a case, a person may secure the best legal aid help by researching lawyers and choosing the lawyer with the most experience and best track record for his particular type of case. A free consultation may prove helpful in the decision-making process as well. Often, consumers are able to determine whether they have a good rapport with a lawyer during a short consultation.
Regardless of whether or not a person has a choice of which lawyer helps him, he can often greatly influence the outcome of his legal aid case. For example, seeking legal help as soon as a matter arises and long before he is due in court may influence how much help a lawyer can provide. The same goes for providing requested documents. Without critical documents, a lawyer may not be able to effectively represent his client. Honesty is important as well; if a person lies to his legal aid lawyer or withholds information, the lies may leave potentially harmful holes in his case.