Helpful Organizations

Helpful Organizations

Free or Reduced Fee Legal Aid


Family Defense Center
70 East Lake Street
Suite 1100 Chicago, IL 60601| View map
Phone: 312-251-9800
Languages: English, Italian, Russian, Spanish
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The Family Defense Center's mission is to advocate justice for families in the child welfare system. We advocate for families who need our help the most: families threatened with losing their children to foster care.

The Family Defense Center provides legal representation in DCFS administrative hearings and a very limited number of child protection cases in the Juvenile Court of Cook County. These cases include, but are not necessarily limited to, providing legal advice during DCFS investigations and appealing DCFS "indicated" findings. Please note that while we can sometimes assist persons who live outside of Cook, Kane, Dupage, Lake, McHenry and Will County, we typically only provide direct representations in DCFS administrative hearings held in that five county area. Please contact us if you are seeking assistance with an Illinois DCFS case.

We charge sliding-scale fees for legal services. Our fees are determined based on your income and the size of your family. Families whose incomes are below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for free or pro bono services. Before we agree to take your case, we will notify you in writing of any fees we are charging, including modest consultation fees for advice and referrals. We consider all requests for assistance on a case-by-case basis.


View current federal poverty levels


Midwest Center on Law & the Deaf
P.O. Box 804297 Chicago, IL 60680| View map
Phone: 800-894-3653
TTY: 800-894-3654
Languages: English, American Sign Language
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MCLD provides information to the general public on the rights of deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and helps deaf and hard of hearing people find attorneys willing to provide accessible legal services.  If you or a deaf or hard-of-hearing person you know needs a lawyer, please call MCLD to help you find one.


Catholic Charities Legal Assistance
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
651 W. Lake Street
Suite 403 Chicago, IL 60661| View map
Phone: 312-948-6821
Languages: English, Spanish
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The mission of Catholic Charities Legal Assistance (CCLA) is to provide access to compassionate and competent legal assistance to the economically disadvantaged in the Chicago area. 

Services provided: CCLA provides legal advice over its Legal Advice Line and evaluates cases for direct representation in the areas of family law, consumer law, housing law, and immigration.  CCLA also provides Legal Educational Seminars,  Referrals to other Legal Aid Organizations, and Access to a Pro Bono Network for limited cases.

Our services are free to low-income clients. Clients who do not qualify for free services may be charged a $25 or $35 fee.

Spanish speaking staff available.

Intake Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.


Equip for Equality
20 N. Michigan Avenue
Suite 300 Chicago, IL 60602| View map
Phone: 800-537-2632
TTY: 800-610-2779
Toll-free: 800-537-2632
Languages: American Sign Language, English, Spanish
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The mission of Equip for Equality is to advance the human and civil rights of children and adults with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois.  Equip for Equality serves people who have:

  • a developmental disability such as autism, cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
  • a significant psychiatric disability such as depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia (we give priority to individuals at risk for abuse due to seclusion, restraint, and any related serious injuries or fatalities, neglect, or civil rights violations, while residing in residential facilities).
  • a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act other than one that is developmental or psychiatric such as blindness, deafness or hard of hearing, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, paraplegia, quadriplegia and multiple sclerosis.
  • traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Some of our work involves assistive technology needs, voting access and participation for individuals with disabilities, and vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, and other support services for Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities.

How to Request Services

People seeking assistance should call (800) 537-2632 on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. We accept limited calls on Tuesday and Thursday from individuals in institutions (usually when they are emergencies only).


Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. - Waukegan Office
325 W. Washington Street
Suite 100 Waukegan, IL 60085| View map
Phone: 847-662-6925
Toll-free: 800-942-3940
Languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese/Mandarin, English, Farsi, French, French Creole, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tribal Languages, Urdu, Vietnamese
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Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. is a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal aid to people who cannot afford an attorney. Prairie State serves 36 counties in northern and central Illinois, outside of Cook County. Your eligibility for help from Prairie State Legal Services will depend on whether:

  • You meet our income and asset guidelines, or are age 60 or older.
  • We have no ethical conflict of interest regarding your legal issue.
  • You live within Prairie State's service area, or have a civil legal problem in one of the counties in our service area.
  • You meet the citizenship or immigration requirements established by Congress. Immigrants who are fleeing domestic violence or trafficking are eligible for legal help regardless of immigration status in matters to address the abuse.
  • Government regulations do not prohibit Prairie State from handling your type of legal problem.
  • You have a legal problem that can be addressed by Prairie State's attorneys and that fall within our established priorities.

Types of Legal Help

Due to high demand for our services, our staff is able to provide representation in certain areas of civil law designated as a priority. The following kinds of problems are examples of cases that we might be able to help with (not an exclusive list):

High Priority Cases

  • Family Law: Protection from abuse or exploitation for domestic violence victims, elderly, children and persons w/disabilities; divorce and related relief for domestic violence victims.
  • Housing Law: Evictions and lock-outs; foreclosure defense; loss or denial of subsidized housing benefits; loss or denial of essential public utilities; substandard housing conditions cases that cannot be addressed by other agencies.
  • Health Care: Loss or denial of medical or nursing home care; loss or denial of medical benefits (Medicaid, Medicare).
  • Needs-based government assistance: Loss or denial of SSI, GA, TANF, VA, food stamps.
  • Other income benefits where alternative representation is unavailable: Loss or denial of unemployment insurance, Social Security Disability benefits.

Other cases we might be able to handle

  • Family Law: Child support, custody, guardianship, visitation, parental rights, divorces for non-domestic violence victims.
  • Housing: Rent issues; security deposits; unit size; discrimination.
  • Education: admission, expulsion, special education & related services.
  • Health care and people with disabilities: powers of attorney and other health care documents; discrimination and reasonable accommodations.
  • Income or benefits: overpayments of government assistance; health insurance matters; employment issues.
  • Consumer Law: Bankruptcy or other debt relief; consumer fraud; protection of exempt income and assets; unfair debt collection practices; repossession; contract defenses.


View current federal poverty levels

Private Attorney Referrals


Lake County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
7 N. County St. Waukegan, IL 60085| View map
Phone: 847-244-3143
Languages: English
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The LCBA online "Find A Lawyer" tool provides a way to locate a Lake County attorney in the particular areas of law in which they concentrate. If you do not find an area or attorney that fits your need you might want to call the Lawyer Referral Service, which assists people in need of a Lake County, Illinois attorney.


Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Lawyer Referral Service
321 South Plymouth Court Chicago, IL 60604| View map
Phone: 312-554-2045
Languages: English, Spanish
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Our 24-hour answering service provides referrals to private English/Spanish-speaking attorneys with experience in every area of the law.  Please call 312-554-2045.

Illinois State Bar Association
424 South Second Street Springfield, IL 62701| View map
Phone: 217-525-5297 (LAWS)
Toll-free: 800-922-8757
Languages: English
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Illinois Lawyer Finder is the Illinois State Bar Association's lawyer directory. This online referral service is designed to serve everyone who can afford the services of a lawyer. If you prefer a telephone referral please call Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. We charge no referral fee, and our operators can put you in touch with a lawyer in your area who has agreed to provide an initial consultation for no more than $25 for the first half-hour.