TexasCourtHelp poster | TexasCourtHelp brochure
Finding a Lawyer
State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) - A free service provided by the Texas State Bar to help people find a lawyer. On the Bar’s website, select “Need help finding a lawyer?” and give the information requested.
If the LRIS does not cover your county, they will refer you to a lawyer referral program that can help you.
You can also use the telephone book or ask friends for a recommendation.
Legal Assistance Organizations and Other Non-Profit Organizations
Contact information for Texas agencies and organizations such as Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Lone Star Legal Aid, Advocacy, Inc., Texas Legal Services Center’s Legal Hotline for Texans, and the Texas Advocacy Project’s Family Law Hotline and Family Violence Hotline, and immigration law resources.
On the Texas Law Help website, select the “Find legal help” tab. This tab also contains information about other organizations that assist with various legal problems, including consumer protection, landlord-tenant, OSHA complaints, complaints about nursing homes, and assistance with utility companies.
On the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) website, select Texas on the map of the United States. Most legal aid programs have income guidelines that determine the people or families they can serve. Persons must apply for assistance. Because of resource limitations, not everyone who qualifies will receive assistance.
Texas Law Help
The Texas Law Help website is a resource for people who do not have a lawyer. They have information on many topics, including:
- Civil Rights
- Consumer Cases
- Wills and Estates
- Family Law
- Forms & Instructions
- Juvenile Cases
- Domestic Violence
- Spanish Resources
- Veteran Issues
Texas Law Help also has a Live Chat service available through its website. With Live Chat, you can type messages to a lawyer who can give you information about the law and point you in the right direction. Live Chat is free and is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation
Going to court may not always be the best way to resolve a problem. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is one way to work out an agreement. Mediation, for example, involves a neutral third party who may help the parties reach a resolution. ADR can be used for many types of cases, including co-parenting, divorce, probate, contract disputes, other civil cases and appeals. The Austin Dispute Resolution Center’s website has a list of dispute resolution centers in Texas.
Limited Legal Help
Many people cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Limited legal help, also known as “limited scope representation,” is another way to get legal help. Under this kind of arrangement, a lawyer and client agree that the lawyer will provide specific services for an agreed fee. For example, the lawyer and client could agree that the lawyer do one or more (but not all) of the following:
- only advise the client about the strength of the case;
- help draft a document;
- review a document the client has drafted;
- coach the client for a negotiation;
- help with the discovery process;
- coach the client for a hearing;
- appear in court on behalf of the client for one hearing only; or
- any combination of these kinds of services.
Hiring a lawyer to handle part of a case can be an affordable alternative to hiring one to take care of the entire case (also called “full representation”), and may be preferable to representing yourself in court -- a process that takes time and patience and can be confusing. People who act as their own lawyer are expected to know and follow the same rules that lawyers follow.
Not all cases are suited for limited legal help. Lawyers who are interested in providing limited scope representation may be found using the resources described above in the Finding a Lawyer section. Feel free to ask lawyers if they are willing to provide limited scope representation.
State Bar of Texas
The State Bar of Texas Client-Attorney Assistance Program helps resolve problems between clients and lawyers. Also, a person with a complaint against a lawyer may file a formal complaint (“grievance”) against the lawyer with the State Bar. On the State Bar’s website, select “For the Public,” and then select “Disputes with Your Lawyer” if you have a disagreement with your lawyer or “Filing a Complaint” for information on filing a complaint.
The State Bar also publishes a referral directory of legal services and other resources for low-income Texans, http://www.texasbar.com/Content/NavigationMenu/ForThePublic/CantAffordaLawyer/ReferralDirectory.pdf.
Texas Law Libraries
Law libraries have print and online resources including statutes, regulations, court rules, and court decisions, as well as legal encyclopedias, form books, and books about specific areas of law. Most law books are written for legal professionals, but some books are written for people who are not lawyers.
Law library staff cannot give legal advice, but they can show people how to use their resources.
Texas State Law Library
205 West 14th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-1614
Texas Court System
The Texas Judicial Branch website contains information about the Texas court system.
Legal form books provide sample language that can be used to prepare documents to file with a court. Some forms are fill-in-the-blank, while others only provide language that must be tailored to the situation. Forms are not available for every situation.
- Some courts have forms available online or in the clerk’s office or county law library. Check on your court’s or county’s website.
- The Supreme Court of Texas has approved forms for two kinds of cases:
- For getting a protective order, and
- For uncontested divorces that do not involve children or real property.
The forms may be found on the Texas Law Help website (see below).
- Some forms are available at www.texaslawhelp.org. To see a list of forms, click on “View all interactive forms” under the “Do-It-Yourself forms – Interactive” tab and “View all printable forms” under the “Do-It-Yourself - Printable” tab.