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How Do I Find a Lawyer & Legal Services?

First ask yourself, Do I need a lawyer?

The answer is probably YES if:

  • The case is contested and the other side has a lawyer
  • You do not have an address for the other side
  • You cannot locate the other side to serve him or her with your papers
  • This is a divorce case and either side has a house, a pension, or a large amount of property or income. Even if it is a friendly divorce, you SHOULD talk to a lawyer before you sign any settlement papers or file anything in court.
  • You and your spouse do not agree on who should have custody of the children
  • You think the court will need information that you cannot get
  • You are seeking an annulment

You may also need a lawyer if after reading these instructions you feel you need help to file your case.

You can talk to or get a lawyer at any time during the course of a case, BUT getting a lawyer at the last minute usually will not be grounds for a postponement, and many lawyers will not take a case at the last minute.

More information and general instructions on family cases are available from the Maryland Judiciary.

Assistance if you decide to represent yourself

If you begin a case as the plaintiff, or are brought into a case as a defendant, and you do not have a lawyer representing you, then you are "pro se," that is, you are representing yourself, and you are responsible for navigating the court system, following its rules and time deadlines, and learning what you need to do to reach your goals. Without a lawyer, no one is going to do this for you.

Self-represented litigants in family-related cases (e.g., divorce, child custody) are welcome to visit the Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Law Self-Help Center, located on the 1st Floor of the South Tower, Rm 1500. The Self-Help Center is a FREE walk-in clinic, staffed by attorneys, which provides either general legal information or limited legal advice in family law disputes involving divorce, custody, visitation, guardianship, and child support. The Self-Help Center can help determine which family law forms are the most appropriate, help with the completion of the forms, provide information on how to navigate the system, and explain the law in general.

Please note that whether you receive advice, help with forms, or general information that applies to everyone, will depend first on your income eligibility using established state-wide income guidelines, and second, on the complexity of your case. You will still be responsible for paying all fees and costs associated with your case.

The Bar Association of Montgomery County’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) operates out of the South Tower, Rm 2540. The program offers:

  • Free Half-Hour Consultations in Family Law Cases: Two lawyers are available every day, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, to consult with those needing to hire a lawyer, whether at a reduced fee, full fee, or for a limited appearance in a case. Lawyers will be prepared to offer a free half-hour initial consultation in family law cases only, not all kinds of cases. Beyond the initial consultation, their advice is not free, but would be available at a reduced fee, or full fee, or for a limited appearance.
  • Eligibility Screenings: The LRS will provide initial screenings for those who may qualify for pro bono representation or reduced fee representation beyond the initial free consultation above. Eligibility screenings are available for all kinds of cases. Those who appear to qualify for pro bono or reduced fee representation will be given a packet of instructions on how to follow up for a final eligibility determination.
  • Family Division Services: Those who are ordered to appear at Family Division Services after their Scheduling Hearings must do so first and then proceed to the Lawyer Referral Service afterward if they wish to do so.
  • Other Cases: Those seeking representation in cases other than family law, such as auto negligence, other personal injury, debt collection, and other contract disputes, will be referred out to other lawyers not on site.

Litigants may also contact the Lawyer Referral Service via phone (301-279-9100) or via an online form

The Maryland Office of the Public Defender provides representation in District Courts, Juvenile Courts, Circuit Courts, judicial bail reviews and related collateral hearings, Children in Need of Assistance (CINA) and termination of parental rights (TPR) cases.

Download the Law Library's quick reference guide to finding and working with a lawyer  (PDF)

The following is a list of these and other organizations that provide legal services or offer additional options for finding a lawyer:

Agency Hours Phone
Archdiocesan Legal Network (Client Intake Hotline) Monday-Friday: 9:30 am-noon & 2:00-4:00 pm and Wednesday-Thursday: 4:30-7:00 pm 202-350-4305 or 202-772-4325 (en Español)
Disability Rights Maryland 410-727-6352 Ext 0 or toll-free 800-233-7201
FindLaw: Legal self help and attorney services
Finding Montgomery County Brochure (Information on the Maryland court system, free legal help resources, and finding an attorney) - Print version  (PDF)
Finding Montgomery County Brochure (Information on the Maryland court system, free legal help resources, and finding an attorney) - Web version  (PDF)
Getting Legal Help in Maryland: What is it, and what does it cost? (People’s Law Library of Maryland)
Law Library handout on finding & working with a lawyer  (PDF)
Maryland Judiciary's Finding Legal Help
Maryland Judiciary's Forms in Spanish, French, Russian, Korean, and Chinese
Maryland Legal Aid Monday-Friday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm (walk-in and telephone intakes)
Domestic Law: Wednesdays: 2:00-4:00 pm
240-314-0373 or toll-free 855-880-9487
Maryland Legal Aid Spanish Brochure (PDF)
Maryland State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Services
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Montgomery County (District 6) Public Defender (Rockville Office) Monday-Friday: 8:00 am-4:30 pm 301-563-8900
Montgomery County Bar Association - Find a Lawyer
Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (Online Form)
Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (Telephone intakes) Monday-Friday: 9:00 am-1:00 pm 301-279-9100
Montgomery County Bar Association -Legal Assistance Network - Search for free and low-cost legal services by category
Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Law Self-Help Center Monday-Friday: 8:30 am-4:00 pm with evening hours: Tuesdays: 4:00-8:00 pm 240-777-9079
People's Law Library of Maryland Legal Forms Helpline 800-818-9888
People’s Law Library of Maryland - Getting Legal Help in Maryland: What is it, and what does it cost?
People’s Law Library of Maryland’s translated pages
People's Law Library of Maryland Legal Clinic Calendar - Find out when free legal clinics are offered near you
Pro Bono Legal Assistance - Initial eligibility screening Monday-Thursday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm 301-424-7651
Women’s Law Center of Maryland - Family Law Hotline Monday-Friday: 9:30 am-4:30 pm 800-845-8550
Maryland Courts Self-Help Centers

Free legal help with your Civil or Family matter

Logo for Maryland Courts Self-Help Centers

410-260-1392

8:30 am-8:00 pm, Monday-Friday

Lawyers will answer questions on a full range of civil case types handled by both Circuit and District Courts. Legal issues include:

  • Landlord and Tenant Matters
  • Family Law Matters (divorce, custody, child support, and guardianship)
  • Small ($5,000 or less) and Large (over $5,000) Claims
  • Expungement and Shielding of Records
  • Consumer matters like car repossessions, debt collection, and credit card cases
  • Return of property (replevin and detinue) cases
  • Domestic Violence/Peace Orders
  • Foreclosure

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