Get Legal Help

What is your legal problem?

Describe your legal problem in your own words, then click Get Help. We will suggest pages on this web site and the web sites of our partner organizations that may be helpful.

How do I apply for legal help?

Before you can become a client of PLA, you need to go through the "intake" process.  Intake can take place in person or over the phone, during the designated intake hours.  See our walk-in intake hours and telephone intake hours for more information.  You can also apply on-line using our on-line intake system:

What problems do you help with?

PLA helps with a wide variety of civil (non-criminal) legal problems.  You can look at our list of legal problems we handle or contact us to see if we handle your type of legal problem.  Even if we don't handle your type of legal problem, we might be able to refer you to someone who can.

Do I need to be a Philadelphia resident to get help from PLA?

Yes, but there are some exceptions.  For example, the Pennsylvania Farmworker Project operates statewide, and the Family Law Unit will help parents who live outside of Philadelphia if their children reside in Philadelphia.  The intake policies of the different departments of PLA explain in more detail whether you need to be a Philadelphia resident. 

Will I get a lawyer?

PLA provides legal services in a number of ways, using both lawyers and paralegals.  Paralegals are always supervised by lawyers.

Some applicants who come to PLA will receive a referral to another legal services organization, like Philly VIP or the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, which only take clients by referral.

Most of our cases are advice-only cases, in which the PLA advocate, usually a paralegal, provides advice to a client over a period of time.

Advocates also handle brief service cases.  For example, the advocate might write a letter, prepare a document, or make a phone call on behalf of a client.

PLA lawyers also take cases for extended representation.  For example, a PLA lawyer might represent a client in court and argue the client's case in front of a judge.  However, these cases are very time-consuming.  PLA has limited resources and can only take a relatively small number of extended representation cases per year.

Will it cost me anything?

PLA is funded by the government in order to provide free legal services to low-income individuals and families.  We do not charge fees for legal assistance. 

How do I know this is a legitimate organization?

PLA is funded by the federal Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which is funded by the United States Congress.  PLA is listed on LSC's directory of approved legal services organizations.  PLA is also a member of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) and is listed in its directory.  In addition, the City of Philadelphia funds PLA to operate the Save Your Home Philly Hotline, and recommends our services.