Before You Apply for Legal Help

mother and daughter

If you are not a resident of our region, or if you have a legal issue that doesn’t fall within one of our Practice Areas, please visit the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder to search for other organizations that may be able to help with your legal problem. 

To find the Legal Services Office within Massachusetts that may be able to help you based on where you live, visit Mass Legal Resource Finder.

For general legal information applicable in Massachusetts, visit Mass Legal Help.

Financial Eligibility

Generally, to be eligible for assistance, households must have income below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines and have limited cash and other assets.

There are no financial eligibility requirements for the following applicants:

  • Older residents (age 60 and older) who are seeking help with an eviction, loss of rental subsidy, denial of admission to public or subsidized housing, access to government benefits (including TANF, EAEDC, SNAP, MassHealth, Social Security, SSI, SSDI, State Disability Supplement, or Medicare), or financial or physical abuse or other threats to their autonomy, independence, or safety.
  • Victims of crime who have a legal problem related to their victimization.

While you must meet our financial eligibility requirements to apply for help, limited resources prohibit us from taking all cases.   

Languages

SCCLS and the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts have in-house staff who speak a variety of languages. If English is not your first language and/or if you are deaf or hard of hearing, our staff can help or we will arrange for a free interpreter.

Required Information

Make sure you have this information ready before you apply:

  • All sources of income and the amounts received by you and members of your household.
  • All assets that you or other members of your household own and their value.
  • The name of the person, business, or agency causing your legal problem.
  • Dates of any hearings or deadlines (if any). These dates may appear on notices, letters, or court papers.

Matters We Do Not Handle

IMPORTANT: Please Read!

Due to funding restrictions and staffing limitations, SCCLS cannot provide assistance in all areas of law. We set priorities for assistance based on assessment of the legal needs of people in our service area. We do NOT at present offer assistance for these matters:

  • Criminal matters
  • Personal Injury matters
  • Guardianship cases on behalf of the proposed guardian
  • Department of Children and Families matters
  • Child support obligor matters (if you have to pay)
  • Visitation matters
  • Defending against a restraining order
  • Small claims cases
  • Debt collection lawsuits
  • Tax issues
  • Student loan matters
  • Probating estates
  • Workers’ compensation

If your legal problem is on this list, you may wish to seek private counsel by calling the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 1-866-627-7577 or by applying online. You may also be able to find general legal information on your issue at Mass Legal Help.

If you live in Bristol County you may contact the Bristol County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service by applying online or by calling 508-990-1303. If you live on the Cape, you may also try the Barnstable County Bar Association Lawyer Referral by calling 508-362-2121.

If you feel you meet the eligibility requirements for legal help, use the link below to apply or call us at 800-244-9023. 

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