I need an attorney – Where can I find legal help?
At NAMI, we appreciate how difficult it can be to navigate the legal system for those with mental illness. Please know that NAMI Volunteer Specialists are neither legal professionals, nor can we offer legal advice or individual advocacy.
A reliable source for finding legal representation is the American Bar Association that maintains a lawyer locating service. To find the legal referral service for your area, use the American Bar Association’s “ Find Legal Help" search function. In seeking counsel, you may wish to consider finding a lawyer with experience representing individuals with mental health conditions.
If you (or your loved one) do not have the financial resources to hire legal representation — and the case involves a civil matter — the following resources may be of assistance (please keep in mind that legal aid organizations do not provide services for criminal cases):
State Legal Aid Services are government subsidized bureaus or organizations specific to each state whose function is to provide legal services for low income individuals. To find local information initiate an internet search for state name and legal aid – ex. “Maryland legal aid”.
- The website helpwhenyouneedit.org offers a “Legal Assistance” tab in the drop-down menu under the “Select a Category” button. There, you will find a list of organizations that provide low-cost or pro bono legal assistance in your area.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a Federal resource to help with SSI claims and other legal aid. Search by zip code to locate contact information for legal aid offices in that region (offices all around the U.S.). They promote equal access to justice by providing high quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons. Search by zip code to locate legal aid offices in your region, apply for grants, and LSC also conducts compliance reviews and program visits to oversee program quality and compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.
National Center for State Courts, (800) 616-6164, provides information on the rule of law in courts for mental and behavioral health as well as many other areas of expertise including children and families.
- 211 provides nationwide information on local resources. Dial 211 from any phone (mobile or landline) or use their website to search for contact information by zip code; service refers callers to appropriate agencies/community organizations that offer pro-bono legal assistance; available in most areas.