Many potential clients come into my office in a great panic due to an upcoming court case. The bottom line is they are in a pressing legal need, but they have no money to afford a lawyer. The wife or husband has hired a lawyer and decided to take them to court over some family law issue. Whether the wife now wants full custody of the children or the husband wants to modify spousal support or child support that he is presently paying. These scenarios put many people rightly so in a panicked state because they now are left with the pressing issue of whether to secure legal representation or attempt a go at it alone.
As many self represented individuals are acutely aware, the legal system especially in Santa Clara County is not a friendly place for self represented individuals. There are many technical challenges from filing paperwork properly to navigating correct civil procedure. If there are even the tiniest of mistakes a court paper may be rejected or a worse yet a case may be rejected entirely due to what are seemingly small errors.
When potential clients speak to me about these pressing issues and then present me with the problem of the lack of funds. I always tell potential clients that there are options available to them. I firstly tell them about my services. In California there is the option of limited scope family law service or unbundled services. What this means is that a lawyer can agree to represent a client for a limited portion of their case. Whether that portion be filing a motion, drafting a declaration, explaining court procedure, reviewing their case and giving legal strategy and advice. A limited scope attorney may even appear in court for a client. This flexibility provides the client with avoiding having to pay a full retainer which is typically $2,000 – $5,000 for full attorney representation. The client can essentially pay as you go and get representation when they can afford it. The downside with this arrangement is that the lawyer can only represent them for the agreed upon amount of work. Once the work is complete the client is again self represented and is ultimately still responsible for their own case. This process works for those with a good grasp on their case, or those who can not afford a full attorney retainer.
There are other free and modest means options for those seeking low cost San Jose Family Lawyer advice. I recommend that clients with no money speak with the Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley, they do on occasion represent clients for free. Mostly the representation is related to domestic violence, but they do take certain family law cases. The other option is the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County who does take family law cases for free. There is the Family Law Facilitator’s office in the Santa Clara County court system. They have well regarded attorneys there who can assist those who can not afford any representation at all. They however can not represent you in court. Lastly, there is the Modest Means Panel with the Santa Clara County Bar Association. They offer low cost and sliding scale attorney’s for family law matters.
My law office, offers Affordable Limited Scope representation in Santa Clara County.