Bay Area Legal Services is a nonprofit public interest law firm. It provides the highest quality legal counsel. It offers this service regionally to individuals and non-profit groups whose circumstances limit their access to legal assistance. It assists clients in the prevention and resolution of civil legal problems while preserving their dignity and self-respect so they will be able to live in a self-sufficient manner that preserves dignity and restores hope.
The staff at Bay Area Legal Services provides free counseling and representation to eligible clients for civil legal problems including the following areas:
Family Law: Divorce, custody, and protection of families from domestic violence.
Senior Advocacy: Attorneys and paralegals are advocates for the legal rights of the elderly. They consult, advise, and assist senior citizens in areas of civil law. In addition, the Senior Advocacy Unit provides education to client groups on a variety of topics.
Volunteer Lawyers: Bay Area’s Volunteer Lawyer Program (BAVLP) organizes and administers the volunteer efforts of hundreds of private and public sector attorneys in Hillsborough County.
Housing: Preservation of housing by resolving legal problems related to housing. Fair Housing Program
Income Maintenance: Representation to appeal the denial or termination of Social Security, Medicaid, SSI disability, and food stamps.
Consumer Law: Representation for the poor and the elderly who are susceptible to credit problems, consumer fraud, loss of a home, or foreclosure of a mortgage or construction lien.
Who is Eligible for Services?
You must be living in one of the five BALS counties: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, or Sarasota or a referral by another legal services program.
Have a civil legal issue of the type handled by BALS and no conflict with a current or prior client represented by BALS. This means your case would not be accepted if it would create a conflict of interests for BALS. For Example: BALS would not advise both a husband and wife in a divorce situation.
Have an income level at or below 125 percent of the poverty level as established by the federal government. Be prepared to provide monthly statements and listing of assets such as bank account balances.
There are significant exceptions to these income guide lines. Specific grants have different eligibility guidelines which may apply for persons 60 or older, HIV+, victims of spouse abuse, and other special programs. You will be screened for eligibility when you call for an appointment. The legal helpline is 1-800-625-2257.