Problems solved

There can be a legal aspect to many different problems people face in life. Helping people access fair solutions is powerful. Here are some examples. (The list is not exhaustive.)

Victims of crime

Because victims of crime are not guaranteed attorneys (unlike those convicted of crimes), many go unrepresented, unheard, and often don’t get the justice they deserve.
  • Victims of domestic violence often need legal assistance to keep themselves, and their families, safe. Civil legal aid providers help victims secure restraining orders, appropriate child custody arrangements, and control of their own finances.
  • Victims of elder abuse may need legal help protecting their safety or finances.
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities may need legal assistance to halt an infringement on their independence, safety, or other rights.
Pie graph in which the largest slice takes approximately 1/3 of the circle and is labeled with the category of Health; a slice occupying approximately 1/5 of the circle is labeled with the category of Housing; and six smaller slices are associated with the following categories, in order from largest to smallest: Immigration, Other, Family, Income maintenance, Consumer/finance, and Employment

Cases closed by area in 2022 using grants from our most flexible program, Direct Legal Services.


People looking for jobs sometimes face legal barriers to employment for which there are common-sense solutions available, but the required processes are so complex, people need professional assistance. These barriers include:
  • inaccuracies on a person's criminal background record, 
  • crimes that were the result of coercion by a human trafficker,
  • single, long-ago misdemeanor on a person's record committed when the person was much younger, or
  • a drivers' license suspended because of componded unpaid fees, which had the unintended "no-win" effect of making it difficult for the person to get a job and pay the fees.

Unjust financial practices

  • When a hospital system and insurance company make an error or have a disagreement, they sometimes pass along medical expenses to a patient who doesn't actually owe these fees, and who can't pay them. The medical, insurance, and legal systems are so complex, few could resolve this issue without a lawyer, but losing a court battle could mean financial repercussions with lifelong consequences.
  • Predatory lending and price discrimination often take advantage of the historical segregation of communities to target low income communities of color. This can lead to civil legal issues that, left unresolved, can plunge families further into poverty.

More examples

  • Veterans sometimes need civil legal assistance to access all the benefits to which they are entitled.
  • Tenants facing wrongful eviction may not realize they have a legal defense. That lack of legal knowledge can leave a family without a home. 
  • Landlords and tenants in other situations often both benefit from an attorney's ability to negotiate mutually beneficial solutions, like a legally binding move-out date and payment plan that gets a landlord paid and helps a family avoid homelessness.
  • Refugees seeking a safe place to live often need legal help navigating the complexities of applying for immigrant status in our country.

Staff listing |
811 East Washington Ave., Suite 400
Madison, WI 53703
608.257.6845 or 877.749.5045 (toll-free)

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