Until as late as 1974, access to legal counsel was based on financial ability. In 1974, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was established to help fund access to legal help. Even with the advent of the LSC there are lot of people without affordable legal aid. This group consists predominantly of people of the lower income group, especially those people whose vocation puts them in risk of litigation.
One example would be the case of professional drivers, whose occupation depends on their commercial driver’s license (cdl), like truckers. These people in evidence of their low income cannot afford legal services in the event of a ticket. This has lead to the mushrooming of business lawyers related to trucking and the term cdl lawyer or truck attorney comes to mind.
Fortunately, with the development of the Internet, instant and free legal advice has become much more easier to obtain. Interactive websites of law firms provide online legal advice, thereby making the process hassle free as well.
One more example would be of people suffering from major trauma due to external agencies. These people having to spend fortunes on their medical bills can hardly even begin to think about legal service. In such cases the pro bono work done by some of the bigger law firms has to be mentioned. Of course in the present scenario there has been a leap in the growth of the so called “personal injury” attorneys who specialize in these sort of cases and most such lawyers charge only on successful litigation.
The other offices of professional legal aid are legal clinics and public defenders. Public defenders are state offered counsel in the event of criminal procedure brought against any person who cannot afford it otherwise. Legal clinics are organizations which provide hands-on experience to law students and thereby giving access to free legal advice to the public.
Even with so many organizations and law firms in legal aid, the scenario in the U.S leaves much to desire and one can only hope that the new ground broken in the health insurance sector would lead to similar growth in the legal sector. health insurance sector would lead to similar growth in the legal sector.