I HAVE A CIVIL LEGAL PROBLEM. WHERE DO I GET HELP?
The Office of Civil Legal Aid is not a provider of civil legal aid services. Services are provided by non-profit legal aid organizations throughout the state.
There are different ways of accessing legal help depending on where you live.
If You Are Low-Income, and Do Not Live in King County
If you have a non-criminal legal problem, you may call CLEAR (toll free) at 1-888-201-1014 for legal advice, assistance and information. If you need more extensive legal assistance, CLEAR may refer you to a local legal aid provider, if a referral is available.
CLEAR is open 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.
An interpreter will be provided to callers where necessary, free of charge.
Callers who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a speech impairment may call CLEAR using the relay service of their choice. Callers who communicate in ASL may choose to receive legal assistance in ASL via videophone/video relay service.
CLEAR is a high volume legal aid service. Often there are more people trying to reach CLEAR than there are attorneys to help them. You may get a “due to heavy call volume, we cannot handle additional calls at this time”, message that asks you to please call back at a later time. Please be patient and keep trying. As soon as there is capacity to take another call, CLEAR will reopen and you will get through.
Apply Online: You may also apply online for legal help through CLEAR*Online.
What to expect when you apply using CLEAR*Online:
- You may submit an application 24/7 for legal assistance. Based upon your income and the type of legal problem you have, CLEAR*Online will determine if you are likely to qualify for legal help.
- For some legal problems such as eviction/loss of housing, denial or termination of government benefits (including unemployment benefits), or debt collection issues, you may be referred directly to a local legal aid provider. You may also be given the option to have a CLEAR intake screener contact you directly.
- For most other non-criminal legal problems, you will be asked to call CLEAR. In that case, the information you provided will be automatically transferred. When you reach CLEAR, your intake interview will take less time.
- Whether or not you qualify for legal assistance, CLEAR*Online will direct you to helpful legal publications and information about other organizations or online resources that may help to resolve your legal problem.
Find more information about CLEAR here: http://www.nwjustice.org/get-legal-help
If You Are Low-income, and Live in King County
Call 211 for information and referral to an appropriate legal services provider Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. You may also call (206) 461-3200, or the toll-free number, which may be useful when calling from a pay phone, 1-877-211-9274. 211 provides interpreters as needed at no cost to callers. Deaf and hearing-impaired callers can call 1-800-833-6384 or 711 to be connected to a relay operator at no cost, who will then connect them with 211.
If You Are A Senior Over 60
Call CLEAR*Sr (toll free) at 1-888-387-7111 (available statewide regardless of income), 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. (CLEAR*Sr is available statewide regardless of income.
Low income seniors may also call the main CLEAR line at 1-888-201-1014, 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Important Note: Clients who contact CLEAR*Sr starting at 9:15 a.m. will be asked to leave a message with their name, phone number and whether it is all right to leave a message. The CLEAR*Sr line will close once the voice mail message system is full. Low-income seniors may call the CLEAR line at 1-888-201-1014, from 9:15 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. Also, low-income seniors calling the CLEAR*Sr line at 1-888-387-7111 have the option to transfer to the CLEAR line and be screened for eligibility that day.
What Can You Expect When You Call CLEAR or CLEAR*Sr?
Before CLEAR can assist you, a screener must determine that you are eligible for services. Due to limited resources, lawyers and paralegals cannot speak to every caller and services are targeted to people with problems that affect basic needs such as housing, income, medical care and family safety.
In order to make sure CLEAR does not jeopardize your rights or the rights of another client because of a conflict of interest, CLEAR staff will ask you for information about the person, business or agency with which you are having a problem.
If you are calling on behalf of another person, CLEAR staff will determine whether they can speak with you or whether they need to speak directly with the person on whose behalf you are calling.
If you are eligible to speak with a lawyer or paralegal, he or she will ask you about your problem. Please have papers or documents concerning your problem with you when you call. It will also help if you have important information such as the names of people involved with the problem, and their addresses and telephone numbers.
Based on the information you give to the CLEAR advocate, they may give you verbal or written advice that may help you to solve your problem on your own. They also have an extensive library of informational materials to help you understand your legal rights and to advocate on your own behalf. If your problem is covered by any of these materials, the CLEAR advocate will send them to you free of charge.
In some cases, the CLEAR advocate may try to solve your problem through negotiation.
If your problem is more complicated and you need representation, the CLEAR advocate will try to refer you to a legal aid provider in your community.
Self-Help Information, Automated Forms and Brochures
If you are looking for basic information about the law, legal problems and self-help solutions on a variety of topics, go WashingtonLawHelp. There you can find hundreds of up-to-date pamphlets and materials on many issues that affect low-income people. These are arranged by category of legal problems.
Many self-help resources are available in languages other than English, including Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Spanish, Hmong, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Somali and Vietnamese.