How To Get Free Legal Help In Santa Rosa

How To Get Free Legal Help In Santa Rosa

by Jun 12, 2019Family Law

There’s no arguing that hiring a lawyer is often an expensive proposition. Too often, the cost of hiring a lawyer prohibits many people from being able to help themselves and their families within the legal system. In some cases, however, it’s possible to get free legal help thanks to a common industry practice called “pro bono” work.

If you’re looking for free legal help in Santa Rosa, there are a few resources you can take advantage of that offer pro bono work for certain types of legal needs.

Legal Aid of Sonoma County

Legal Aid of Sonoma County was founded in 1958 and provides crisis legal services to low-income families and children. Their organization operates four primary programs through their Crisis Legal Advocacy Center:

  • CAPP (services for child abuse and neglect victims)
  • SAFE (services for domestic violence victims)
  • HOME (habitability and eviction services)
  • ELDER (elder law services)

Legal aid also offers a legal services referral program that assists clients with legal issues, which may be a barrier to their employment. This includes help with criminal record expungement, driver’s license retrieval, traffic offenses, and special referrals to other legal aid services, legal workshops, legal clinics, and community resources.

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Sonoma County Bar Association

Santa Rosa is also home to the Sonoma County Bar Association. The association offers a free legal referral program called The Sonoma County Lawyer Referral Service. When you call the referral service, you will be able to speak with a legal professional who can listen to your problem and determine if you need a lawyer, and if so, which kind.

They can also tell you if a consumer, government, or public service agency is a better fit to solve your problem rather than a law firm.

If the referral service determines that hiring a lawyer is in your best interest, they will set up a consultation with an attorney for you for only fifty dollars. If you decide to hire that attorney after your consultation, you will have to negotiate a rate with them on your own.

Do All Lawyers Do Pro Bono Work?

While the American Bar Association (ABA) encourages all lawyers to provide at least fifty hours of pro bono legal services per year, it’s not an actual legal requirement. Most state bars have their own pro bono requirements that may or may not be the same as the ABA.

The California State Bar, for example, has the same requirements as the ABA. Their pro bono FAQ page states: “While the State Bar suggests 50 hours of pro bono activity annually, even a few hours may have an extraordinary positive impact on underserved individuals and groups. The goal is aspirational – not a requirement.”

Because pro bono work is a recommendation, rather than a legal requirement, it means that some lawyers will do more pro bono work than others.

Where Should I Start?

If you believe you have a legal problem but aren’t sure which type of lawyer you need to contact, our recommendation is to contact the Sonoma County Lawyer Referral service first. Be sure to mention if you are looking for a lawyer willing to work on your case pro bono.

If your legal problems fall into one or more categories that a Legal Aid program can assist with, we recommend contacting them first. If Legal Aid is unable to help you, your next call should be to the bar association’s referral service.

As a final resort, you can also try contacting an attorney’s office directly to inquire if they are willing to take on your case pro bono.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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