Private Attorney Referral Services in Washington D.C.

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There are three private attorney referral services in Washington D.C. that can be used by residents of the capital. The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project provide legal referrals and services to clients who meet certain qualifications, and GAYLAW has an attorney referral program that can be used by residents of Washington D.C.

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia can provide legal assistance and representation to families and individuals who make little to no income. However, because of the limited resources of Legal Aid, these legal services can only be provided to clients whose cases are in certain areas of law. The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia will only take on cases are in the areas of family law, housing law, public benefits (like Social Security), and consumer protection. In order to apply for legal representation through this service, eligible clients must go to one of the office locations in Washington D.C., wait for an interview time, and complete the intake process. Clients are expected to bring all the relevant materials about their case to the initial interview. Only clients with disabilities are allowed to have their initial interview and intake process via a phone conversation. After spending most of the day at an office location, there is no guarantee that the Legal Aid Society will be able to take your case even if you meet all of the eligibility requirements.

The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that seeks to overturn and prevent wrongful convictions in Washington D.C. This is done through a combination of investigative and legal services that are provided to eligible clients in Washington D.C. However, like many other innocence projects around the country, the Mid-Atlanta Innocence Project is plagued with a substantial lack of funding. Because of this, clients who secure legal services through this project often deal with interns and law students instead of fully licensed attorneys.

To qualify for the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, those who have been convicted of a crime must go through a large sheet full of questions that ask for specific details. As well, if the convicted applicant has an appeal pending in the courts, the Project cannot take the case. The Project only takes on cases where the prisoner believes and can point to new, exonerating evidence. A successful applicant pays no legal fees to the Project, but may have to help with the costs of investigations or any tests that need to be run, like DNA evidence tests. Because the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project has received so many applications in the short time it has been open, there is a high probability that it will take months or years before a response is sent out in rely to an application for legal services. The Project makes no guarantees that, even if there is new, exonerating evidence in your case, it will be able to provide you with legal services.

GAYLAW's Attorney Referral Service operates like a searchable database for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender attorneys of Washington D.C. Attorneys who wish to be listed in this database pay GAYLAW an annual fee of $50, which maintains the database to the public free of charge. District of Columbia clients using this referral service must know the area of law that their case deals with, and from there can search using geographic criteria. GAYLAW does not investigate any of the attorneys that pay to be listed in their database, so it is up to the client to make sure that the lawyer they choose is in good standing. As well, GAYLAW provides no guarantees about the service provided.

Two of these private lawyer referral services only provide legal services to clients who qualify, and the third does not screen any of the attorneys that it lists in its database. As well, these services do not guarantee that a client will receive any legal representation, and give no indication of the quality of legal services that will be provided.

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