Legal Aid lawyers can help you with a bankruptcy case, and their use is recommended by the United States Bankruptcy Court if you are not able to pay for representation. Legal Aid is a nonprofit organization offering free legal services to low-income people. Generally, Legal Aid assists only with Chapter 7 bankruptcy fillings, the quickest and simplest form of personal bankruptcy.
Pro Se Debtor
Bankruptcy law can be extremely complicated and could be overwhelming for someone not experienced in federal court proceedings. The bankruptcy process allows you to represent yourself as a "pro se" debtor, but that's a risky proposition. One mistake in filing paperwork or following court procedures could result in your bankruptcy filing being dismissed by the court.
The bankruptcy courts offer free forms and general bankruptcy information at UScourts.gov, but court officials and clerks are not allowed to offer legal advice or review your paperwork. That's another reason why it's helpful to secure representation from Legal Aid or elsewhere.
Contacting Legal Aid
Legal Aid has affiliate offices in most communities. Find the Legal Aid office nearest you by calling a local charitable organization such as the United Way, Urban League or Salvation Army. Attorneys providing free assistance through Legal Aid are called "pro bono" attorneys, meaning they volunteer some of their time for "the public good."
Pro bono legal services may also be available from a local law school or from other attorneys in town who are not officially affiliated with Legal Aid. The United Way or other charitable organizations may be able to offer the names of attorneys who may help for free or at a discount if Legal Aid is not an option.
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