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How Legal Aid Works

Legal Aid represents clients (individuals and groups) in transactions, negotiation, litigation, and administrative settings. Legal Aid also provides assistance to pro se individuals and advises individuals, so they are equipped to make decisions based on professional guidance.

Legal Aid provides people with the information and resources to solve issues on their own and seek assistance when needed. Legal Aid also works with clients and client communities and in partnership with groups and organizations to elevate the impact of our services and ensure sustainability of our outcomes.

Legal Aid works towards long-lasting, systemic solutions through impact litigation, amicus, comments on administrative rules, court rules, education of decision-makers, and other advocacy opportunities.

When you have a case for Legal Aid to consider, here is what to expect:

Step 1: Apply for Legal Aid help.

Click here to learn more and apply for Legal Aid assistance.

Step 2: Complete intake interview.

The interview helps Legal Aid determine eligibility for services and if you have a legal case or not.

Legal Aid serves clients whose household income is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or below. Applicants may self-report income and asset information about their household, but do not need to provide other documentation when completing intake.

The intake interview also helps Legal Aid understand a person’s problem and whether or not it is the type of issue Legal Aid may handle. Intake specialists will ask several questions to get specific information attorneys need to evaluate a case. In addition to inquiring about income, we prioritize cases where people face significant risk and Legal Aid attorneys can make a positive difference. Legal Aid has limited resources and cannot help everyone. All requests and referrals for Legal Aid services are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Step 3: Provide extra information.

You may also be asked to deliver any relevant papers to Legal Aid to help us evaluate a case. Sometimes Legal Aid sends a Release of Information form to sign and return. You must complete all of these steps to help Legal Aid decide if we can help with the case. The amount of time required between completing an intake and finding out if Legal Aid will help depends on the type of case.

Step 4: Get legal information, advice, or representation.

If you have an issue Legal Aid can help with, you will be provided with legal information, advice, or be assigned an attorney.

Legal Aid recognizes people can face many problems and issues – but not all issues may have a legal resolution. If your cases is not a legal problem, Legal Aid staff will try their best to provide you with information or a referral to another service provider.

Other important information to note:


Language: Applicants and clients who speak languages other than English will be provided with an interpreter by Legal Aid and important documents will be translated for them. People who speak the following languages can call specific intake phone numbers to apply for help with a new case:

Spanish dial: 216-586-3190
Arabic dial: 216-586-3191
Mandarin dial: 216-586-3192
French dial: 216-586-3193
Vietnamese dial: 216-586-3194
Russian dial: 216-586-3195
Swahili dial: 216-586-3196
Any other language dial: 888-817-3777

Disability: Applicants and clients in need of accommodations for a disability may make a request to any Legal Aid staff member, or ask to speak with a supervisor.

Hearing impairment: Applicants and clients with hearing impairments may call 711 from any phone.

Visual impairment: Applicants and clients with visual impairment should discuss their preferred communication methods with any Legal Aid staff, or ask to speak with a supervisor.

Other problems: After Legal Aid accepts a case, clients who struggle with other problems, such as unreliable transportation, lack of telephone, trauma symptoms, depression and anxiety, substance use, limited literacy and others, may also be offered social work support to help address issues getting in the way of their legal case. Legal Aid’s social workers collaborate with clients and attorneys as part of the legal team.


Legal Aid does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), language, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to: hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services to clients and partners. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors.


Grievance process

  • Legal Aid is committed to providing high-quality legal services and holds itself accountable to those we seek to serve. Any person who feels they were unfairly denied legal assistance or who is unhappy with the assistance provided by Legal Aid may complain by submitting a grievance.
  • You may make a complaint by speaking with or writing to a Managing Attorney or to the Deputy Director for Advocacy.
  • You may send an email with your complaint to
  • You may call the Deputy Director at 216-861-5329.
  • Or, file a copy of the Grievance Form and send a completed form to the Managing Attorney for the practice group assisting you or to the Deputy Director at 1223 West Sixth Street, Cleveland, OH 44113.

The Managing Attorney and Deputy Director will investigate your complaint and will let you know the outcome.

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