Sometimes hiring a lawyer just is not the right choice for you. While I encourage everyone reading this website to schedule an appointment with me to sit down for a free one-hour consultation to discuss whether an affordable solution to your legal problems is available, below is a list of resources you can use to help yourself.
Free or low-cost legal assistance
- Prairie State Legal Services, 5320 W Elm St, McHenry, IL 60050, (815) 344-9113. Prairie State offers free legal services to low-income and elderly individuals with family law (divorce, adoption, child support), consumer law (credit card lawsuits), and housing law (foreclosures and evictions) issues. They do not provide assistance for criminal or traffic matters.
- McHenry County Public Defender. The public defender is available if you are charged with a crime that involves the risk of jail time (most traffic tickets do not apply) and if you have limited resources available to pay for an attorney. At your initial court appearance if you seem like you may qualify for a public defender, the judge will have you fill out an Affidavit of Assets & Liabilities (these are available in the courtroom) and determine whether you qualify for free legal assistance.
- McHenry County Law Library, located on the third floor of the McHenry County Courthouse, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, IL 60098. The McHenry County Law Library is a tremendous resource containing numerous printed volumes of law, legal treaties, and self-help guides. In addition, the law library has several public-access computers with access to Westlaw, the leading online legal research tool. The librarian is prohibited from providing legal advice.
- Illinois Legal Aid Online. A free website published by Illinois Legal Aid that provides easy to understand explanations of common legal issues. This is the first resource you should consult if you cannot find an attorney to handle your case.
- U.S. Courts’ Bankruptcy Basics handbook. The Bankruptcy Judges Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts publishes a free handbook describing the basics of bankruptcy. The 76 pages of this handbook provides a great overview for the process of filing bankruptcy. I encourage all of my bankruptcy clients to read this handbook before I file a bankruptcy petition on their behalf.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This is the bankruptcy court for residents of McHenry County and most of the Chicago area. The bankruptcy court’s website provides information related to the fees required to file bankruptcy, forms to file with the court, and calendars for the judges. This court has Local Rules that you must be familiar with before appearing in this court.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Title 11 of the United States Code, 11 U.S.C. § 101, et seq., is the primary source of bankruptcy laws in the United States.
- Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (commonly abbreviated as FRBP) are rules promulgated by the U.S. Supreme Court that direct procedure in the federal bankruptcy courts. These rules are often superseded by the Local Rules of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.