The New Jersey State Bar Association has released a comprehensive guide on how to resolve legal issues for state residents who are unable to afford counsel or lack knowledge of the law.
The Access to Justice Guide, published this summer by the Association, provides a road map for litigants who find themselves in a legal predicament to navigate the complex justice system. The guide offers information on how to find and afford an attorney, participate in hearings, contact legal service organizations for help and more.
“As the voice of New Jersey attorneys, closing the justice gap for state residents without access to legal services – an issue that disproportionately impacts immigrant and historically-marginalized communities – is a key part of the Association’s mission. To help bridge the divide, the NJSBA compiled a list of legal aid services and easy-to-understand court procedure tips in one informational guide that residents in all corners of the state can use,” NJSBA President Timothy F. McGoughran said.
The guide, produced by more than a dozen esteemed attorneys in partnership with Seton Hall Law School, provides a list of legal assistance organizations that handle criminal, domestic violence and immigration matters, among other cases. New Jersey is home to several legal assistance programs that offer no-cost legal services to those in need or reduced fee programs to individuals who qualify based on their income, the guide states. Most legal services programs have special guidelines for eligibility, often based on where you live, the size of your family and income. Some legal services providers have staff lawyers, and others operate with volunteers. Through reduced-fee programs, qualified individuals are referred to an attorney who has agreed to charge a lower rate for agreed-upon legal representation.
The law is filled with terms and language that are not always familiar and have significant ramifications, often necessitating an attorney for legal representation, according to the guide. A lawyer may provide a consultation, which is a brief conversation about the case and possible ways to address your legal issues, whether in civil, criminal, family or municipal court. The guide provides recommendations on what to look for when choosing a lawyer and practical considerations to keep in mind – such as a lawyer’s specialty, certifications, fees and the length of time a case may take.
For those interested in representing themselves in court, the guide includes a section on general guidance for legal-related proceedings and instructions to submit forms for various court filings.