ContractsCounsel Logo
Home Blog Free Legal Advice: A Playbook To Start

Free Legal Advice: A Playbook To Start

Jump to Section

How to Perform Legal Research Online

It can be difficult to know where to begin when you're researching a legal challenge that you may be facing. Using this guide, you should be able to define your legal issue, research it, and find the help you need.

Define Your Issue

The first step for researching the answer to your legal questions is to start by fully understanding the issue that you're having. Some questions you should be able to answer are:

  • Is it a true legal issue?
  • Is it a civil or criminal case?
  • Do federal, state, or municipal laws apply?
  • What is the practice area your case falls into?

Naturally, you need to first determine whether you actually have a legal case or whether what you're facing is simply a problem. For example, if the person who's causing you a problem isn't actually breaking any laws, then you don't have a legal issue.

Do You Have the Right to Sue?

If you've confirmed that you do have a true legal issue, your next question may be whether you have the right to sue to resolve the problem. While you can generally sue anyone for just about anything, the truth is that filing a lawsuit can often be a waste of time and money. It's usually a good idea to consult with a lawyer and determine whether mediation would be a better choice or whether you should take your case to court with a lawsuit.

Criminal vs. Civil Case

In general, there are two different kinds of legal issues: civil and criminal. In criminal cases, the case is prosecuted by the government. In a civil case, the person who is filing the lawsuit retains the help of a lawyer to prosecute. If you've been arrested for a crime, then the case is a criminal matter. However, it could potentially be a civil matter as well, depending on the situation.

Federal, State, and Municipal Laws

Local, state, and federal governments all have their own laws, and the legal issue that you're dealing with will fall under one of those categories. You may want to search all three, depending on the legal issue you're facing. It may be helpful for you to speak with a lawyer to find out which court is most appropriate to file in.

Practice Areas

Common practice areas that many cases fall into include:

  • Criminal law
  • Corporate law
  • Employment law
  • Estate planning
  • Personal injury
  • Business law

By understanding the practice area that your case falls into, you can get a better idea of where you should go for free legal advice.

Research the Legal Problem

ContractsCounsel Free Legal Advice

Image via Unsplash by glenncarstenspeters

When you're researching any legal issue, you can uncover the basic facts using the acronym TARP, which stands for:

  • Thing: Start by understanding the subject matter of the issue, or the thing that's causing your problem.
  • Cause of action: Next, you need to identify how you were wronged legally. For example, was the issue negligence, fraud, slander, or breach of contract?
  • Relief sought: Then, you need to understand the type of relief you're looking for to resolve the issue. For example, it could be monetary compensation, or it could be for the other party to cease engaging in a specific type of behavior.
  • Parties involved: Finally, you need to identify which key parties are involved and what their roles are.

Once you have clearly identified the legal problem that you're having, have determined the category of the law that it best falls into, and have articulated the basic facts of the case, you can begin looking for the answer to the problem.

How to Research Your Legal Issue

Here are some places where you can get free legal advice to research your issue:

  • Free legal consultations with attorneys: Many lawyers offer free consultations before asking you to retain their services. You may be able to get enough information during a brief consultation to at least gain a better understanding of your options.
  • Reach out to legal aid societies: Legal aid societies are nonprofit organizations that offer free legal advice to people who have low incomes.
  • Contact your state's bar association: Many state bar associations offer programs that allow people to get free legal advice, even if only on specific days within a set time frame.
  • Visit a law school that's in your area: Many law schools offer programs through which the law students can give free legal guidance. If there is a law school in your local area, this is a good option to consider.
  • Look up your own court system: Perform an online search for "[your city] court" to get information about the court system in your area.
  • Look into the laws directly: The Legal Information Institute at Cornell provides laws organized by topic and location. You can also search "[your state] laws" for state resources.

Resolving Your Legal Issue

Resolution to your legal issue could come in different forms. After doing your research, you may decide that you can handle the problem yourself or that the matter isn't worth pursuing any further. You may also want to seek additional legal guidance before you choose how you want to handle the situation. Or, it may be in your best interest to retain the services of a lawyer immediately. By doing your own research, you'll better understand your options.

Can I Represent Myself?

You have a right to represent yourself in legal matters . This is referred to as pro se legal representation, and it is actually a common practice in uncontested divorces or in small claims courts. There are certain matters where a lawyer is required by the law, regardless of whether you want one. The reality is that you don't know what you don't know, so getting some input from a lawyer can at least give you the insight you need to know how to move forward.

Free and Low-Cost Legal Services

  • Upsolve : This service offers free legal advice for people who want information on filing for bankruptcy.
  • Legal Services Corporation: This organization offers free legal aid for families and individuals with low income.
  • This site helps people who need to find legal aid programs in their own community to help with divorce, child support, debt collection, and affordable housing.
  • Free Legal Answers: This site allows you to submit questions about civil law to the American Bar Association if you have a low income and qualify for the program.
  •'s 'Ask a Lawyer' Service: Post a question and get free responses from multiple lawyers, often within 12 hours or less.
  • Rocket Lawyer: There is some free advice available on the site, although to ask a question of a lawyer, you are required to pay a small fee.

What Can I Expect If I Hire a Lawyer?

When you retain the services of a lawyer, you're hiring someone to protect your interests and represent you with regard to that issue. Depending on the situation, your attorney may represent you in court or mediation. They may also handle the process of creating, reviewing, processing, or filing court documents. Ultimately, when you hire a lawyer, you know that there is someone who is proactively working for your interests, who can offer you legal guidance and anticipate problems you may never have seen coming.

Good advice can be hard to find, and good free advice can be even more challenging to come by online. However, there are a lot of free resources available that, even if they can't provide an exact solution to your issue, may be able to help you get closer to a solution. If the problem you're facing involves business law, then Contracts Counsel may be able to help. You can get free proposals for your project from vetted lawyers within our marketplace. Contact us today.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

Ayelet F. on ContractsCounsel
View Ayelet
5.0 (5)
Member Since:
June 9, 2021

Ayelet F.

Free Consultation
Coral Springs, FL
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Nova Southeastern University

Ayelet G. Faerman knows what influencers mean to brands today. With experience as legal counsel for a beauty brand for over 5 years, and overseeing multiple collaborations, Ayelet has experienced the rise of influencer marketing. As the founder and managing partner of Faerman Law, PA her practice focuses on influencer relations including a specialization in contract negotiations.

Melissa G. on ContractsCounsel
View Melissa
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
May 27, 2021

Melissa G.

Trademark and Business attorney
Free Consultation
Fort Lauderdale
12 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
University of Miami School of Law

Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is an experienced trial-winning trademark and business attorney. She has represented large businesses in commercial litigation cases. She now represents consumers and small businesses regarding federal trademarks, contracts, and more. Her extensive litigation knowledge allows her to prepare strong trademark applications and contracts to minimize the risk of future lawsuits.

Ryan W. on ContractsCounsel
View Ryan
5.0 (11)
Member Since:
June 8, 2021

Ryan W.

Free Consultation
Mechanicsburg, PA
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in PA
Widener University Commonwealth School of Law

Ryan A. Webber focuses his practice primarily on Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Life Care Planning. His clients range from young families concerned about protecting their family as well as aging individuals. Ryan provides Estate Planning, Trust Planning, Special Needs Planning, Public Benefit Planning, and Estate Administration. Ryan focuses on the holistic approach to the practice of elder law which seeks to ensure clients are receiving good care when needed and that they preserve enough assets with which to pay for such care. Many families and individuals also come to Ryan for preparation of their wills, power of attorney, and healthcare guidance documents. Additionally, Ryan assists small and medium sized business owners with their organizational and planning needs. From starting or winding down a business, Ryan provides quality business advice.

Jonathan G. on ContractsCounsel
View Jonathan
5.0 (2)
Member Since:
June 21, 2021
Michael K. on ContractsCounsel
View Michael
5.0 (50)
Member Since:
June 28, 2021

Michael K.

Associate Counsel
Free Consultation
Miami, FL
6 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
St. Thomas University School of Law

A business-oriented, proactive, and problem-solving corporate lawyer with in-house counsel experience, ensuring the legality of commercial transactions and contracts. Michael is adept in reviewing, drafting, negotiating, and generally overseeing policies, procedures, handbooks, corporate documents, and more importantly, contracts. He has a proven track record of helping lead domestic and international companies by ensuring they are functioning in complete compliance with local and international rules and regulations.

Robert D. on ContractsCounsel
View Robert
Member Since:
May 12, 2021

Robert D.

Free Consultation
26 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OH
University of Akron School of Law

I am a general practice lawyer with 21 years of experience handling a wide variety of cases, both civil and criminal

George B. on ContractsCounsel
View George
Member Since:
June 21, 2021

George B.

Free Consultation
Detroit, MI
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MI
Western Michigan University - Cooley Law School

I help start-ups, small businesses, and people realize their potential by leveraging my legal and technological experience. Legally skilled in employment law, intellectual property, corporate law, and real estate transactions.

Sean S. on ContractsCounsel
View Sean
Member Since:
June 21, 2021

Sean S.

Free Consultation
New Orleans, LA
9 Yrs Experience
Licensed in LA
Tulane Law School

I am an attorney with six years of experience drafting and negotiating a wide variety of business contracts, in industries including technology and software, finance, professional services, hospitality, and non-profits.

Joshua C. on ContractsCounsel
View Joshua
Member Since:
June 28, 2021

Joshua C.

Free Consultation
Ashland, MA
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, MA
UCLA School of Law

Attorney Joshua K. S. Cali is a respected business, estate planning, and real estate attorney based in Ashland serving Middlesex County and other nearby areas. Joshua graduated summa cum laude from Bentley University in Waltham, MA, and from UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles. Before starting his own firm, Joshua practiced estate planning for high net worth clients at a boutique law firm in San Diego, CA.

Erin F. on ContractsCounsel
View Erin
Member Since:
June 29, 2021

Erin F.

Free Consultation
Costa Mesa, CA
17 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ, NY
Rutgers University School of Law (JD)

Businesses, Contracts, Operating Agreements, Corporate, Real Estate, Start-Ups, Cannabis

Drew B. on ContractsCounsel
View Drew
Member Since:
July 1, 2021

Drew B.

Managing Member
Free Consultation
Cleveland, Ohio
26 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MO, OH
Saint Louis University

Drew is an entrepreneurial business attorney with over twenty years of corporate, compliance and litigation experience. Drew currently has his own firm where he focuses on providing outsourced general counsel and compliance services (including mergers & acquisitions, collections, capital raising, real estate, business litigation, commercial contracts and employment matters). Drew has deep experience counseling clients in healthcare, medical device, pharmaceuticals, information technology, manufacturing, and services.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

View Trustpilot Review

Need help with a legal contract?

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

See All Business Lawyers

Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.

View Trustpilot Review

I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.

View Trustpilot Review

I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.

View Trustpilot Review

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call

Find lawyers and attorneys by city