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In General | Finding a Lawyer and Getting Legal Advice | Limited-Scope Legal Consultations | Court Resources

In General

Lawsuits should be taken seriously. If you are, or may be, a party in our court we strongly suggest that you meet with an attorney to fully determine your legal rights and the best way of handling your legal problem. The court provides some resources to represent yourself, but court staff cannot give you legal advice.

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Finding a Lawyer and Getting Legal Advice

Law Help

To find information on free legal services programs visit LawHelp and type in your zip code or the county you live in. On the next screen select your type of legal problem. On the next screen select your subtopic. Scroll down and read the eligibility requirements for the legal services organizations listed to see if you qualify. Click on the names of the organizations to learn more and where to go for help.

Legal Referral Services at the New York State Bar Association and New York City Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association can help you find a lawyer in your area. Lawyers will charge you $35.00 for a 30-minute meeting. If your legal problem concerns personal injury, social security, medical malpractice, veteran's and military law, unemployment or workers' compensation, the 30-minute meeting with the lawyer is free.

During your visit with the lawyer, you and the lawyer will discuss your legal problem and the lawyer will give you advice. You do not have to hire the lawyer. The lawyer does not have to take your case. If the lawyer agrees to take your case, the lawyer will charge you at his or her regular rates.

Free Lawyers for Tenants (Universal Access to Legal Services)

Some tenants can get a free lawyer in their cases under the Universal Access to Legal Services Law. New York City is the first city in the country to provide universal access to lawyers for tenants in housing cases. By 2022, all tenants should be able to get some free legal assistance.

Visit Free Lawyers for Tenants to see if you qualify.

Tenant Legal Service Organizations

The Tenant Legal Service Organizations document contains a list of all not-for-profit legal service providers actively handling housing matters in New York City. You can search for an organization that handles matters in your county. Visit the website of or call each organization to learn more about the services they provide and if you qualify.

City Bar Justice Center Legal Hotline

The City Bar Justice Center’s free Legal Hotline offers legal information, advice, referrals, and in some instances, brief services, to low-income New Yorkers. The Legal Hotline phone number is: 212-626-7383.

The Legal Hotline is staffed by attorneys who assist low-income callers on a range of civil legal issues, including housing law and debt collection. The staff includes bilingual attorneys who speak English and Spanish, and they can accept calls in any language through interpreting services.

Lease Assistance Partnership

The New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership (LAP) is a public-private partnership between Empire State Development, the nonprofit Start Small Think Big, and the New York State Bar Association, to help avoid business evictions. The initiative provides commercial tenants and small business landlords with pro bono legal services, and the information needed to reach a mutually agreeable lease renegotiation.

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Limited-Scope Legal Consultations

Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP)

In the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP), trained lawyers give free legal information and legal advice to litigants who do not have attorneys. VLP is run out of the Civil Court’s Help Centers. Volunteer lawyers are trained on legal issues involved in housing, consumer debt, name changes, small claims, and civil court procedure.

Volunteer lawyers can review your court papers, discuss your case, help you fill out forms, help you plan what to do with your case, tell you where to find a lawyer to represent you in your case.

Volunteer lawyers cannot represent you in court or file legal papers for you. If you seek help from VLP, you are still responsible for all court dates and filing deadlines.

Volunteer Lawyer of the Day Program (VLFD)

The Volunteer Lawyer of the Day (VLFD) program is an unbundled legal services program, meaning the lawyer’s representation begins and ends the same day. There are no client calls, filing deadlines, motion practice or responsibilities beyond the day, which is scheduled in advance at your convenience.

There are VLFD Programs for both consumer debt and housing cases. The VLFD Consumer Debt Program is designed to assist unrepresented consumer debtors with cases in Civil Court. The VLFD Housing Program offers unrepresented litigants in nonpayment proceedings the opportunity to have lawyers represent them during their appearances in the Resolution Part of Housing Court.

In the VLFD Program, you meet with the volunteer lawyer the morning of your court appearance and sign a retainer agreement for just that day's appearance. The lawyer files a Limited Notice of Appearance with the Court. The lawyer then appears on your behalf for the day. Volunteer lawyers are supervised by a knowledgeable attorney program coordinator who reviews cases, discusses strategy and approves agreements. The representation is complete at the end of the day, whether the case is resolved or not.

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Court Resources

Help Center

The Civil Court Help Centers provide free walk-in services to litigants without a lawyer and have cases pending in the Civil Court of the City of New York.

There is a Help Center in every Civil and Housing Court building. Each Help Center has court attorneys and volunteer attorneys trained to give legal and procedural information on Housing, General Civil, and Small Claims Part procedures, but not legal advice. At each Help Center free pamphlets on legal topics, free internet for legal help and to watch videos, and information about legal, rental, and social services help are available to court users. The Help Centers also offer access to the Do It Yourself (DIY) program for litigants to create the necessary forms to file answers and restore cases to the calendar.

No appointment is necessary to use the Help Center, but staff are busy so be prepared to wait your turn. Free interpreters can be called to assist you. You should bring any court papers and relevant notices and any previous stipulations or court orders.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently operating a virtual help center.

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