Who is eligible for our representation?
We can handle civil matters including housing issues, education, consumer rights, benefits, and civil rights. Clients are eligible for our services if their income is between 125% and 400% of the federal poverty guidelines. We are not taking divorce, custody, or criminal cases at this time.
Cases are selected based on the income guidelines, whether legal representation is likely to benefit the client, and the public interest in pursuing their claims.
We generally only take cases in Charleston County, Dorchester County, Berkeley County, Lexington County, and Richland County for reasons of efficiency; the benefit to a client of our lower rate is lost if clients are paying for travel time. However, if you are able to travel to Charleston or Columbia for meetings with your attorney we may make exceptions to this rule.
You can qualify for a CLA lawyer if your household gross annual income is less than $47,080 (single person); $63,720 (two-person household); $80,360 (three-person); or $97,000 (four-person).
What will it cost?
We charge rates between $50 and $100 per hour, and initial retainer fees are between $500 and $1000 per case. Contact us for a specific rate quote based on your verified annual income.
What is the process?
When you contact CLA through the website or by calling, a volunteer attorney will contact you (normally within 24 hours, although it may take several days) for an initial screening conversation with you to assess whether you are eligible for our services (in other words, that you have a decent argument and we think our assistance will be effective, that you fit our income guidelines, and that there is a public interest in our representing you). After that call, CLA attorneys will discuss your case. If you are a good fit for our services, you will have the choice of consulting with a staff attorney over the phone for free or scheduling a $50, one-hour in person consultation with an attorney at our office. She will review your case with you, confirm the hourly rate you would pay for our services and your retainer fee, and propose a plan of action on your case. We do not charge for the screening and consultation calls, and you do not have to make a decision about hiring us the day you come in for an in-person consultation. We will never pressure you to hire us, and we will not be offended if you don't! Like seeing a doctor, it is smart to consult an attorney when you first become aware of a problem, rather than waiting until your situation is dire and you have no other choice. We encourage all our clients to stay engaged and active in their cases, and to be proactive in pursuing their rights.