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How Legal Aid Works

Intake and Eligibility

When a person applies for help with a case or attends a Brief Advice Clinic, the first step is for Legal Aid to complete an intake interview and determine financial eligibility. 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. Applicants may also be asked to deliver any relevant papers to Legal Aid to help the attorney evaluate a case. Sometimes Legal Aid sends a Release of Information form to the applicant to sign and return. Applicants must complete all of these steps to help Legal Aid decide if an attorney 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.


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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