Do you have a legal issue? While it may seem overwhelming, there is free and low-cost legal help and resources available for Marylanders.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono, which serves the Eastern Shore, reports 80% of all people who need legal help with a civil matter in Maryland, can not afford it.
211 can connect you to free or low-cost legal help from agencies like Mid-Shore Pro Bono and others.
Call 211. For a specific legal case, you can also search these resources in the 211 database:
- Certificates/Forms Assistance
- Child Support Assistance/Enforcement
- Immigration/Naturalization Legal Services
- Family Law Services
- General Legal Aid
- Landlord/Tenant Assistance
The People’s Law Library of Maryland also has a list of low-cost or free legal services, that you can sort by keyword, county and category.
Legal help is available from Pro Bono groups, community mediation services, consumer help from the Attorney General and free help from the Maryland Court Help Center.
Pro Bono Legal Groups
There are also volunteer lawyer groups throughout the state that provide pro bono legal help for civil cases. While some of these are statewide groups, check the geographic regions they serve as there may be limitations.
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) is a nonprofit that offers Pro Bono assistance in counties throughout the state. Marylanders are matched with a volunteer attorney, Certified Public Accountant (CPAs) or enrolled agent.
MVLS does not provide service in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Allegany, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester, Kent and Caroline. There are other Pro Bono agencies in these areas that 211 can connect you with including Mid-Shore Pro Bono.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono provides legal help on the Eastern Shore, through a network of volunteer attorneys. They serve Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Worcester, Somerset and Wicomico counties.
Maryland Legal Aid is also an option. They help more than 105,000 people each year. They have ongoing free legal clinics and offices in the counties they serve: Anne Arundel, Howard, Allegany, Garrett, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Cecil, Hartford, Howard County, Lower Eastern Shore, Midwestern Maryland, Montgomery County, Prince George’s, Southern Maryland, and the Upper Eastern Shore.
If you need help finding a pro bono group in your county, call 211 to get connected and get help.
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)
On the “What’s the 211” podcast, MVLS talked about the ways they help and how having a lawyer represent you can change the outcome of a case.
With a network of more than 2,600 volunteer lawyers, MVLS has experts who can help in the following civil matters, such as:
- Family law disputes
- Housing and consumer cases
- Estate planning and administration
- Criminal record relief
- Income tax issues
MVLS provides full representation so that the attorney will be with you for the duration of your court case.
MVLS Pro Bono legal help is available to Marylanders who meet income, case type and geographic guidelines.
MVLS accepts anyone with a gross household income that does not exceed 50% of the Maryland media income. Income guidelines may vary. See if you qualify.
You can start an application online. You’ll need to provide income information for all household members, the value of your house (if applicable), car value (if applicable), and the amount of money in your checking, savings or investment accounts.
You can also call MVLS directly at 1-800-510-0050 or 410-547-6537 in Baltimore.
Maryland Legal Aid (MLA)
MLA also offers statewide help to low-income and marginalized individuals and communities. The organization works with MLA staff and Pro Bono attorneys to represent clients.
Legal Aid can offer free legal representation for the following civil legal cases:
- Consumer/financial issues
- Family law
- Health care
- Public benefits
- Abused and neglected children
- Clients facing legal issues resulting from a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS
- Migrant farmworkers
- Homeowners in danger of losing their home to foreclosure
MLA follows Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. Apply online.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono
On the Eastern Shore, you can get help with a number of cases like foreclosure, small claims, wills, power of attorney, landlord-tenant disputes, bankruptcy, contract disputes, consumer debt and more through Mid-Shore Pro Bono. They do not take cases involving domestic violence, child support, criminal cases, traffic cases, protective orders/peace orders, and appeals.
Maryland Court Help Center
If you’re representing yourself in a district or family court, get answers to questions and resources from the Court Help Centers. They provide limited free legal services for individuals not represented by an attorney. You will not get court representation.
You can get help with expungement, landlord/tenant issues, small and large claims, consumer issues like debt collection or car repossession, return of property and domestic violence/peace orders.
Find a Court Help Center near you or call 410-260-1392.
You can also get legal help from the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland. Again, lawyers will not be provided for cases. You can attend a clinic for help on a specific issue, though.
The People’s Law Library of Maryland also has free information to help you deal with dozens of legal problems ranging from consumer protection, employment, family law, civil rights, immigration, housing and more.
If you have a dispute with someone or a business, the court system may not be your only issue. You may be able to mediate the situation and avoid court and a possible trial.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution process, that uses a trained third-party mediator(s) to try to reach an agreement. In most cases, you can't use what's discussed in mediation in court, although there are a few exceptions. However, mediation does not prevent you from going to court if you can't reach a resolution.
Maryland Courts have a series of videos detailing how mediation works.