Free Legal Advice:
A Playbook To Start

Jump to Section

Need help with a legal contract?

Post Project Now

Post Your Project (It's Free)

Get Bids to Compare

 Hire Your Lawyer

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.
  • LawHelp.org: 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.
  • AVVO.com'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.

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

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney and Counselor at Law
22 years practicing
Free Consultation

Experienced attorney focusing on estate planning, probate administration, business formation and counseling, and consumer bankruptcy.

ContractsCounsel verified
CEO
35 years practicing
Free Consultation

I focus my practice on startups and small to mid-size businesses, because they have unique needs that mid-size and large law firms aren't well-equipped to service. In addition to practicing law, I have started and run other businesses, and have an MBA in marketing from Indiana University. I combine my business experience with my legal expertise, to provide practical advice to my clients. I am licensed in Ohio and California, and I leverage the latest in technology to provide top quality legal services to a nationwide client-base. This enables me to serve my clients in a cost-effective manner that doesn't skimp on personal service.

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
37 years practicing
Free Consultation

I am a 1984 graduate of the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva University) and have been licensed in New Jersey for over 35 years. I have extensive experience in negotiating real estate, business contracts, and loan agreements. Depending on your needs I can work remotely or face-to-face. I offer prompt and courteous service and can tailor a contract and process to meet your needs.

ContractsCounsel verified
Founding Member/Attorney
7 years practicing
Free Consultation

Tim advises small businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups on a wide range of legal matters. He has experience with company formation and restructuring, capital and equity planning, tax planning and tax controversy, contract drafting, and employment law issues. His clients range from side gig sole proprietors to companies recognized by Inc. magazine.

ContractsCounsel verified
Business Attorney
31 years practicing
Free Consultation

For over thirty (30) years, Mr. Langley has developed a diverse general business and commercial litigation practice advising clients on day-to-day business and legal matters, as well as handling lawsuits and arbitrations across Texas and in various other states across the country. Mr. Langley has handled commercial matters including employment law, commercial collections, real estate matters, energy litigation, construction, general litigation, arbitrations, defamation actions, misappropriation of trade secrets, usury, consumer credit, commercial credit, lender liability, accounting malpractice, legal malpractice, and appellate practice in state and federal courts. (Online bio at www.curtmlangley.com).

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
22 years practicing
Free Consultation

Real Estate and Business lawyer.

ContractsCounsel verified
Founder
18 years practicing
Free Consultation

Davis founded DLO in 2010 after nearly a decade of practicing in the corporate department of a larger law firm. Armed with this experience and knowledge of legal solutions used by large entities, Davis set out to bring the same level of service to smaller organizations and individuals. The mission was three-fold: provide top-notch legal work, charge fair prices for it, and never stop evolving to meet the changing needs of clients. Ten years and more than 1000 clients later, Davis is proud of the assistance DLO provides for companies large and small, and the expanding service they now offer for individuals and families.

ContractsCounsel verified
Partner
19 years practicing
Free Consultation

Braden Perry is a corporate governance, regulatory and government investigations attorney with Kennyhertz Perry, LLC. Mr. Perry has the unique tripartite experience of a white-collar criminal defense and government compliance, investigations, and litigation attorney at a national law firm; a senior enforcement attorney at a federal regulatory agency; and the Chief Compliance Officer/Chief Regulatory Attorney of a global financial institution. Mr. Perry has extensive experience advising clients in federal inquiries and investigations, particularly in enforcement matters involving technological issues. He couples his technical knowledge and experience defending clients in front of federal agencies with a broad-based understanding of compliance from an institutional and regulatory perspective.

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
15 years practicing
Free Consultation

William L Foster has been practicing law since 2006 as an attorney associate for a large litigation firm in Denver, Colorado. His experience includes drafting business contracts, organizational filings, and settlement agreements.

ContractsCounsel verified
Partner
10 years practicing
Free Consultation

Terry Brennan is an experienced corporate, intellectual property and emerging company transactions attorney who has been a partner at two national Wall Street law firms and a trusted corporate counsel. He focuses on providing practical, cost-efficient and creative legal advice to entrepreneurs, established enterprises and investors for business, corporate finance, intellectual property and technology transactions. As a partner at prominent law firms, Terry's work centered around financing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, securities transactions, outsourcing and structuring of business entities to protect, license, finance and commercialize technology, manufacturing, digital media, intellectual property, entertainment and financial assets. As the General Counsel of IBAX Healthcare Systems, Terry was responsible for all legal and related business matters including health information systems licensing agreements, merger and acquisitions, product development and regulatory issues, contract administration, and litigation. Terry is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was an Editor of the law review. He is active in a number of economic development, entrepreneurial accelerators, veterans and civic organizations in Florida and New York.

ContractsCounsel verified
Trademark Attorney
1 year practicing
Free Consultation

I'm a Washington-licensed lawyer specializing in trademark practice and with an extensive trademark education and academic background. I currently work with domestic and international businesses seeking trademark protection in the U.S. by conducting trademark searches, providing legal advice, submitting USPTO applications, and preparing responses to office actions. I'm passionate about trademark law and always looking forward to helping small and medium businesses promote their value by having a registered federal trademark. If you have questions or concerns about trademark/copyright/IP licensing and require legal advice, feel free to contact me so we can have a first chat.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

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

Request a call