Legal Aid Society of Orange County

FAQs

Unsure of what we do or how we operate? Browse our Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I contact LASOC/CLS?

You can contact us via telephone at 714-571-5200 or 800-834-5001.  You may also find more specific information on our individual offices here. (Back To Top)

What is your eligibility criteria?

While our eligibility criteria varies dependent on the type of services needed, our criteria looks at several main factors.  Please understand that there are often exceptions to these rules, so please call for an official eligibility screening -even if you have doubts about qualifying.  Our Eligibility Screeners are trained to help determine what programs you may qualify for, and can often provide referrals for those who do not qualify.  The main basic eligibility criteria is as follows:

Income:  Generally, LASOC’s income guideline is 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline.  In the event that an appointment is set, income must be proven at the time of your appointment.

Assets:  For those persons between 125% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, an asset ceiling is imposed.   Assets such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, trust deeds, etc. hold a ceiling of $4,000 for a family unit of 1 (one) person and $6,000 for a family unit of 2 (two) or more.  There are many assets exempt to this rule.  Please call for an Eligibility Screening regarding questions on certain specific assets.

Area of Residence:  Orange County and the following cities of Southeast Los Angeles County:  Artesia, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Carson (some areas), Cerritos, Compton, Cudahy, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, Hollydale, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Maywood, Norwalk, Paramount, South Gate, Walnut Park and Willowbrook.

Citizenship/Immigration Status:  Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident (with some exceptions).  Permanent Legal Residents must show official residence card at the time of an appointment (unfortunately, photocopies are not accepted). (Back To Top)

What areas do you serve?

LASOC serves all of Orange County.  CLS serves the following cities of Southeast Los Angeles County:  Artesia, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, parts of Carson, Cerritos, Compton, Cudahy, Downey, Hollydale, Huntington Park, parts of Los Angeles, Lynwood, Maywood, Norwalk, Paramount, Rancho Dominguez, South Gate, Walnut Park, and Willowbrook Park.

Please note that some programs, for example our Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, do not restrict services outside of our normal service area.  Please call our Hotline for a complete eligibility screening. (Back To Top)

What type of services do you offer?

Our services can be summarized as follows:

    • Advocacy
    • Legal counseling
    • Self-help services (clinics/workshops; online court forms)
    • In-depth legal representation
    • Community education

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What type of law does LASOC/CLS practice?

LASOC/CLS practice many types of civil matters.  Our case selection priorities include support for family; preserving the home; maintaining economic stability; safety, stability, and health; populations with special vulnerabilities.  Therefore, examples of cases that we have taken include Unlawful Detainer defense, housing voucher issues, bankruptcy or consumer rights issues, welfare or disability income issues, family law, and the like.  We do not guarantee acceptance of any case.  These case types also do not preclude acceptance of cases outside of these parameters.   Cases we do not assist with include:  criminal, business, or immigration.  Exceptions may be made for immigration matters relating to domestic violence, human trafficking, or other U-Visa or VAWA issues. (Back To Top)

I am a Senior citizen.  Is there special help for me?

Yes.  Senior citizens in Orange County ages 60 and over may qualify for assistance through the Orange County Senior Citizens Legal Advocacy Program.  Normal income and asset guidelines are waived for seniors in Orange County meeting LASOC/CLS’s other eligibility criteria. (Back To Top)

Can I make an appointment for the same day?

No.  Due to limited resources, we typically do not take same-day appointments.  Emergencies, however (subject to approval by a Supervising Attorney and appointment availability) may be permissible in rare circumstances. (Back To Top)

Do you take walk-in appointments?

No.  All those seeking services must call our Intake Hotline for a complete eligibility screening.  On the Hotline, cases are evaluated and initial legal advice is given to eligible callers.  One of the Hotline’s Duty Attorneys will decide whether the case should be scheduled an appointment for possible further services or referred to another agency.  Appointments are set anywhere between one day and four weeks out, depending on availability and case type.

A phone is available in the lobby of our Santa Ana office for those who have limited access to a telephone.  Please note that this phone is only semi-private.

The Legal Resolutions Center is available for limited walk-in forms assistance.  Call (714) 571-5455 to see if Legal Resolutions can help with your legal issue.  The Orange County Small Claims Advisory Program, located within the Legal Resolutions Center, offers free walk-in assistance with Orange County Small Claims matter only, in addition to holding weekly workshops. (Back To Top)

I need help other than legal help.  Who can I call for possible assistance?

We recognize that many of our callers’ needs do not end with legal services.  Our staff is trained to issue-spot and refer our clients to other agencies when necessary.  Also, we have compiled a Community Help database for our online users to find local resources for various issues. (Back To Top)

Is Legal Aid the same as the Public Defender?

No.  The Public Defender practices specifically criminal law.  Legal Aid does not practice criminal law.  However, here is information on the Public Defenders in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Orange County:

Deputy public defenders are attorneys appointed by the court.  All deputy public defenders are lawyers licensed to practice law by the California State Bar. Orange County Deputy Public Defenders are widely recognized as among the best criminal defense lawyers.  If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, ask the court to appoint a public defender at your first appearance before a judge. You may be asked to submit a financial declaration to determine eligibility.  For more information, or if you have questions about whether you need a public defender or qualify for one, visit the Orange County Public Defender’s website. (Back To Top)

Los Angeles County:

If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, you can request that the court appoint a public defender at your first appearance before the judge.   All Deputy Public Defenders are full-fledged attorneys who are members of the State Bar and have been licensed to practice law in the State of California.  In order to become a Deputy Public Defender, any individual who has already passed the State Bar examination must also go through a rigorous interview and oral examination to ascertain whether he or she has the intellectual ability, the legal knowledge, and the commitment to practice criminal defense law.

At your first hearing, the County of Los Angeles may require that you complete a financial statement regarding your assets to determine whether you can afford a private attorney.  Even if you do qualify for a Public Defender the county will request that you pay a $25.00 registration fee for the services of the Public Defender’s office.  However, no person will ever be denied the assistance of the Public Defender because of inability to pay the registrations for or any other cost of appointed counsel.  For more information, or if you have questions about whether you need a public defender or qualify for one, visit the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s website. (Back To Top)

English is not my first language.  Can LASOC/CLS provide an interpreter?

During the intake phase on the Hotline, a caller may request an interpreter during the interview.  LASOC/CLS contracts with Ethnic Bridge for telephonic interpretation services in many languages.  If an appointment is given, however, the client will be responsible for bringing his or her own interpreter to the appointment. (Back To Top)

How can I help make a difference?

You can help us make a difference by volunteering, making a donation, or becoming a partner.  Click here to learn more. (Back To Top)

Can you refer me to an attorney if I do not qualify for services?

Yes. We can refer you to the Lawyer Referral Service if you do not qualify for services or if you simply want to hire a private attorney. You can make your own referral online or call LRS at 714-571-5204 or 888-LRS-4ALL. (Back To Top)