You have the right to represent yourself in court. Many people represent themselves because they believe they can't afford an attorney, or because they think they can handle their case on their own. Even if you plan to represent yourself, it may be a good idea to talk to an attorney. This web page provides information about the ways you can find legal help and information. 

A person handling their own court case without an attorney is sometimes called a self-represented litigant or pro se litigant (pronounced pro say). 

Not finding what you're looking for? Email us: jud.selfhelp@vermont.gov.

Help Understanding Court Processes

Access and Resource Center

The Access and Resource Center is an office of the courts providing these free services:

  • Information about Vermont state court processes.
  • Help with Vermont state court forms.
  • Information about ways to get the help of an attorney.
  • Public computers for court-related use.
  • Workstation to attend remote hearings.

Free interpreter services are available. Staff do not provide legal advice.  

 

Contact

Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm (except state holidays)

 

Help from Attorneys

Talk to An Attorney

Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

Fill out the online form, or call 800-639-7036.
The service provides referrals to Vermont attorneys who provide an initial 30-minute consultation for no more than $25.

 

Vermont Association for Justice Lawyer Referral Service

The service allows you to specify an area of practice and proximity to a specific zip code. Unlike the Vermont Bar Association’s referral service, there is no set rate to speak to an attorney you find using the website. If you contact an attorney using this referral service, be sure to ask the attorney how much they will charge to talk to you.

 

Limited Representation (also known as "unbundled" or "discrete task" representation)

This is an agreement between a lawyer and client that the lawyer will provide specific services for an agreed-upon fee. You may be comfortable handling some parts of your case, but would like the help of a lawyer for other tasks. For example, you could hire the lawyer to provide one or more of these services:

  • give you legal advice
  • advise you about the strength of your case
  • draft documents
  • review documents you have drafted
  • get you ready for a negotiation
  • handle the discovery process
  • get you ready for a hearing or trial
  • represent you at a hearing or trial
  • interpret a court order

Not all lawyers practice law this way. When you contact a lawyer, ask them if they are open to this kind of service model. 

 

Vermont Free Legal Answers

A website where you can ask a volunteer attorney questions on a range of civil legal topics including:   

  • Family law, including divorce and custody
  • Housing law, including eviction and homelessness
  • Consumer rights, financial, work, employment and unemployment
  • Health
  • Disability
  • Civil Rights
  • Juvenile
  • Education

 

Legal Clinics

Legal clinics give general legal information and most offer brief legal advice. You can also get help with forms, and ask questions about the law. Most legal clinics handle civil law matters only. Going to a legal clinic can help you decide if you can handle the matter on your own, or if you should hire an attorney.

Caroline Fund Legal Clinic

Clinic covers all civil legal topics (such as debt collection, landlord-tenant, probate, and small claims), with an emphasis on family law. Held at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, 20 Allen Street, Burlington. Call 802-355-4968 to schedule an appointment.

 

Center for Justice Reform Clinic     

Offers humanitarian immigration legal services to those living anywhere in the state of Vermont, who can't afford an attorney, and for whom at least one of the following is true: 

  • People in removal proceedings, under immigration supervision, or who have been ordered removed, and who want to understand their immigration posture and options.  
  • People who have suffered serious harm in their country of origin; who want to seek asylum; or who fear returning to their country of origin. 
  • Survivors of harms or victims of crimes in the U.S. including, but not limited to, forced labor or sex, intimate partner or family violence, and other attempted or completed violent crime. 
  • Young people who have any questions about their immigration status or proof of their status or U.S. citizenship. 
  • Immigrants facing criminal charges who want immigration advice on how to safely resolve their criminal or immigration proceedings. 
  • Immigrants with criminal histories or other past legal troubles who have questions about pursuing or protecting their immigration status, including U.S. citizenship. 

Contact:  802-831-1552 | CRJClinic@vermontlaw.edu

 

Chittenden County Bar Small Claims Clinic

Educational clinic for people involved in small claims cases but who don't have an attorney. Provides an opportunity to speak with a lawyer about Small Claims Court generally, and to discuss your case. Topics include:

  • What to expect
  • How to conduct yourself in Small Claims Court
  • How to prepare for your case
  • An evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your case

The clinic is not open to those representing businesses in collection cases. The attorney does not provide legal advice or represent you in your case. Held the first Tuesday of each month, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. unless the Tuesday is a holiday. The clinic will be held by Zoom. Email Edward D. Fitzpatrick, Esq. at efitzpatrick@bpflegal.com to request a Zoom invitation. If you are new to Zoom, please mention that in your email and provide your phone number.

 

Environmental Division Pro Se Clinic

The free Environmental Division Pro Se Clinic is designed for those who are representing themselves in environmental cases.

When:  First Thursday of the month
Appointment Times:  12:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 pm
How:  Call the environmental division at 802-951-1740 to make an appointment. Appointments are held remotely via phone or Webex.

See the Free Legal Clinic section of the Environmental Division web page for more information. 

 

Free Family Law Clinic

Legal Services Vermont is hosting a free Family Law Clinic for low-income Vermonters on Tuesday, February 27, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. It is by appointment only and space is limited. You can ask for an appointment by phone, video conference or in-person in Burlington.

Lawyers can answer your questions about divorce, parentage, custody, visitation, child support and more.

To make an appointment, call 1-800-889-2047. Leave a message with your name and contact number. Please be sure to mention the Family Law Clinic. A Legal Services Vermont advocate will call you back to screen for eligibility and schedule your appointment.

 

Free legal clinics for Vermont seniors 60+

Vermont Legal Aid is hosting virtual legal advice clinics by phone. Vermont seniors - age 60 or more - can ask legal questions about COVID-19, health care, social security, consumer debt, housing, unemployment and more. 

 

Justice for Victims Legal Clinic

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Use their legal referral intake form, or call 802-223-1302 ext. 1118, or email legalclinic@vtnetwork.org. Focuses on matters arising out of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sex trafficking. Attorneys answer questions, give advice and provide representation related to:

  • relief from abuse/protection orders
  • sexual assault or stalking orders
  • divorce
  • child custody/child support
  • Title IX cases
  • criminal matters if you are the victim participating in a case against a perpetrator
  • accessing restorative justice services

 

Orleans County Restorative Justice Center Legal Clinic

Provides free and low cost 30 minute consultations with local attorneys in the areas of housing, divorce, custody, debt collection and more. Held the first Monday of each month, 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Appointment required. Call 802-487-9327 to make an appointment.

 

Rent Escrow Clinics

Legal Services Vermont hosts clinics in Addison, Chittenden, Rutland and Washington counties to help tenants on the day of their rent escrow hearing. Clinics are held in person, by phone, or by WebEx, depending on court operations.

  • Addison County, 7 Mahady Court, Middlebury. First Thursday afternoons with one exception: November 2 and December 21. 
  • Chittenden County, 175 Main Street, Burlington. Typically Thursday mornings with some exceptions: November 9 and 30, December 28.
  • Rutland County, 83 Center Street, Rutland. Wednesday mornings: November 1, 15, and 29.
  • Washington County, 65 State Street, Montpelier. Monday mornings: November 13 and 27, December 11.

 

South Royalton Legal Clinic   

Law students supervised by staff attorneys consult with and represent those who can’t afford an attorney, in the following areas:

  • Veteran-specific issues dealing with VA disability, discharge upgrades, etc. Services available statewide.
  • Other civil matters for Veterans, including bankruptcy, housing, landlord/tenant, Social Security disability, and wills. For residents of Orange and Windsor counties only.  
  • Divorces, parentage/custody issues, help for survivors of domestic violence, and help for other victims of crime.  For residents of Orange and Windsor counties only. 
  • Court-appointed representation of children in Family and Probate Courts in Orange, Washington and Windsor counties only. 

Contact:  802-831-1500 | srlc@vermontlaw.edu

South Royalton Legal Clinic
PO Box 117
South Royalton, VT 05068

 

Steps to End Domestic Violence

Virtual legal advice clinics for victims of domestic violence in Chittenden County. Clinics are held by phone or Zoom each Monday, 5:30 - 7:30 pm and every other Wednesday, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Call 802-658-1996 to schedule an appointment.

 

Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont

Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont help low-income, disabled, and elderly Vermonters. They give information, advice, and referrals to free or low-cost legal resources. To ask for help, call 800-889-2047, or fill out the online Legal Help Request Form.

    VTLawHelp.org

    Provides general civil (non-criminal) legal information with links to free and low-cost civil legal aid, help and services in Vermont. The website includes:

    • Legal Help Tool that guides people to legal and health care information and to a form to ask for advice when appropriate
    • information and resources about legal rights, the law and the courts
    • help for health care and health insurance issues
    • links to state and community resources
    • legal forms and guides to prepare for a court appearance
    • sample letters to help solve a problem — for example, with a landlord or bill collector

     

    Common Legal and Benefits Issues After a Disaster Like Flooding web page

    A listing common problems that can come up after a flooding disaster in Vermont and links to information.

     

    COVID-19 Coronavirus: Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters

    Information on a range of topics including:

    • Housing & Utilities
    • Work & Pay
    • Money & Food
    • Health Care & Long-Term Care
    • Other topics
    Help with Court Forms

    Need help with Vermont state court forms?
    Don't have access to or aren't comfortable using a computer?
    Do you have a disability?
    Do you speak a language other than English?

    Help is available.

     

    Forms helpers can

    • Find forms on the Vermont Judiciary’s website.
    • Define terms and explain the purpose of a Vermont state court form.
    • Act as scribes, writing exactly what you say on a Vermont state court form.
    • Explain basic steps in a Vermont state court case.
    • Provide information about ways to find legal help.

     

    Forms helpers can’t

    • Give legal advice.
    • Choose what words to write.
    • Recommend arguments or defenses.
    • Speculate about the strength of your case.
    • File documents for you.
    • Serve documents for you.
    • Notarize documents.

     

    Case types include:

    • Divorce
    • Eviction
    • Expungement
    • Guardianship
    • Name change
    • Parentage
    • Small claims
    • Stalking
    • Traffic cases
    • Other issues 

     

    Chittenden County

    Forms help provided in person at the Vermont Judiciary Access and Resource Center. Forms help is also provided by phone, or by video using Teams, Webex, or Zoom. Free interpreter services are available. Staff do not provide legal advice. 

    Contact

    Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm (except state holidays)

    Visit  

    Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm.
    Costello Courthouse, Ground Floor
    32 Cherry Street, Burlington

     

    Orleans County

    Forms help provided in person at the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center in Newport.

    Drop-in hours: Wednesdays, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

    79 Coventry Street, Suite 5, Newport.

    Staff do not provide legal advice. 

    Limited free interpreter services available: French, Spanish, and Ukrainian.

     

    All Other Counties

    Forms help provided by phone, or by video using Teams, Webex, or Zoom. Contact the Access and Resource Center to schedule an appointment. Staff will respond within one business day.

    For information about ways to get immediate help with a request for a Relief from Abuse order, please call:

    • Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-228-7395
    • Sexual Violence Hotline: 800-489-7273

    Staff do not provide legal advice. 

    Free interpreter services available.

    Legal Research Resources

    Community Legal Information Center

    Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, Vermont Law and Graduate School, South Royalton.

    Provides public access to legal research databases, Vermont legal materials and self-help books. Call the Ask a Librarian Line at 802-831-1313 and leave your number and a detailed message, or email clic@vermontlaw.edu, or visit in person.

     

    Vermont Laws 

    From the Vermont General Assembly website

     

    Vermont Court Rules

    From Lexis-Nexis

    • Rules of Civil Procedure
    • Rules for Family Proceedings
    • Rules for Environmental Court Proceedings
    • Rules of Small Claims Procedure
    • Rules of Criminal Procedure
    • Rules of Evidence
    • Rules of Probate Procedure
    • Rules of Appellate Procedure
    • Rules for Electronic Filing
    • Supreme Court Administrative Orders and Rules

     

    Vermont Supreme Court Decisions

     

    Vermont Legal Resources for Civil Matters

    Guide to resources created by the staff of Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, Vermont Law and Graduate School.

    Other Resources

    Court Staff

    Court staff can answer general questions about court procedures and refer you to resources on the Vermont Judiciary's website, including court forms and information about court processes. Court staff cannot give you legal advice or tell you whether you should or shouldn't do something.  

     

    Consumer Assistance Program 

    The Attorney General's Office and University of Vermont students provide help with consumer problems and scams.

     

    Vermont Attorney General 

    The Attorney General's office provides information in a variety of areas including:

    • Employment
    • Money and Credit
    • Products and Services
    • Health and Product Safety
    • Patent Trolling
    • Privacy and Data Security
    • Heating Fuel Service
    • Charities and Paid Fundraisers
    • Criminal Justice
    • Environmental Protection

     

    Vermont Public Libraries

    Public libraries provide internet access and printers, and may have books about the law.

     

    Vermont State Agencies

    State agencies provide services to Vermont children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, domestic violence victims and others.

     

    Vermont 2-1-1

    Provides referrals to social service agencies and programs to help with food, housing, clothing, utilities, health care, senior issues, and other needs.

     

    ACLU of Vermont

    Works to advance the civil rights and civil liberties of all Vermonters. Efforts are focused on broad range of issues impacting Vermonters' constitutional rights, including racial justice, criminal justice reform, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, voting rights, immigrants' rights, freedom of speech, religious liberty, reproductive freedom, privacy, and more. 

     

    Association of Africans Living in Vermont 

    Provides free help and representation in immigration issues including:

    • Adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence
    • Asylum
    • Citizenship
    • Family Reunification
    • Temporary Protected Status
    • Victims' Visas
    • Violence Against Women Act Petitions
    • Work and Travel Authorization

     

    Community Justice Centers

    Restorative justice addresses a criminal act in the context of the people harmed and the community affected. People who offend harm victims, community, and themselves, so restorative justice facilitates the mending of these relationships and helps prevent further offending.

     

    Disability Rights Vermont

    Works to address problems, questions and complaints from Vermonters with disabilities. Provides information, referral and advocacy services, including legal representation.

     

    Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services

    Helps people who have suffered physical, financial, or emotional harm because they were the victim of a crime. 

     

    Vermont Human Rights Commission

    Protects people from unlawful discrimination in housing, state government employment, and public accommodations.

     

    Vermont Judiciary Website

    The Vermont Judiciary website provides information and court forms on common legal issues including Relief from Abuse, Divorce, Eviction and Small Claims cases.