Free assistance available for low-income individuals grappling with civil legal problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
Published 11:53 am Saturday, April 4, 2020
AUSTIN — As the coronavirus pandemic shakes the lives of Texans, causing uncertainty about their healthcare and economic futures, the state’s legal service and access-to-justice providers are joining together in a partnership to assist in this time of crisis.
A toll-free legal assistance hotline is available to low-income individuals and families across Texas who are confronted with civil legal problems as a result of the pandemic. People may call 800-504-7030 toll-free to be connected with legal service providers in their area.
Areas of legal assistance or guidance include:
- Bankruptcy and debt-collection matters;
- Employment issues, unemployment applications and appeals;
- Child custody, visitation, and support issues;
- Life, medical, and property insurance claims;
- Mortgage or foreclosure problems;
- Public benefits issues (e.g., Medicaid, SNAP/food stamps, Social Security);
- Healthcare directives and powers of attorney;
- Consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and scams;
- Landlord-tenant problems;
- Disability discrimination; and
- Family and domestic violence concerns
Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who can provide free legal help. Callers should be aware there are some limitations on the legal services available. This service is a partnership among the State Bar of Texas, the state’s legal aid agencies, volunteer organizations, and access-to-justice organizations. See below for a full list of partners.
Texas Legal Services Center has created a webpage of COVID-19 resources on the website — texaslawhelp.org — including information on eviction and tenants rights, forced quarantines, unemployment benefits, and others. The website also has a LiveChat feature to assist low-income individuals with their legal questions.
A Texas directory of legal aid providers listed by county can be found at texasbar.com/referraldirectory.
Barratry or improper solicitation
The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that in many cases it is a crime in Texas for a lawyer or someone representing a lawyer to contact a person for purposes of legal representation if the person has not first requested the call or personal visit. The contact is not illegal if the attorney is not seeking payment or has a preexisting professional-client or family relationship with the person being contacted.
If you witness something you believe to be an improper solicitation or barratry, please get the name and phone number of the person making contact and report it to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office toll-free at 866-224-5999.