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.

A person handling their own court case without an attorney is sometimes called a "self-represented litigant" or "pro se litigant" (pronounced pro say). Pro se is Latin for "in one's own behalf." 

Even if you plan to represent yourself, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney. This web page provides information about the ways you can find legal help and information. 

Vermont Bar Association

Many people think they can't afford to hire a lawyer. The Vermont Bar Association offers some free and low-cost ways to get legal help.

 

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

 

Lawyer Referral Service

The service provides referrals to Vermont attorneys who provide an initial 30-minute consultation for no more than $25.

 

Limited or "Unbundled" Representation

This is an agreement between a lawyer and client that the lawyer will provide specific services for a predetermined fee. For example, the lawyer and client could agree that the lawyer:

  • will only advise the client about the strength of the case, or
  • help draft a document, or
  • review a document the client has drafted, or
  • coach the client for a negotiation, or
  • help with the discovery process, or
  • coach the client for a hearing, or
  • appear in court on behalf of the client for one hearing only, or
  • any combination of these kinds of services
Legal Clinics

Legal clinics give general legal information and 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.

 

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 Free Legal Clinic

Held the second Thursday afternoon of each month. Call 802-951-1740 to schedule a one-hour 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. Thursday afternoons.

•    Chittenden County, 175 Main Street, Burlington. Tuesday mornings.

•    Rutland County, 83 Center Street, Rutland. Wednesday mornings.

•    Washington County, 65 State Street, Montpelier. Monday mornings.

 

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:

  • Immigration cases including asylum; visas for survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes; Special Immigrant Juvenile status cases; removal defense cases; and other humanitarian-based immigration relief – statewide
  • Veteran-specific issues dealing with VA disability, discharge upgrades, etc. - statewide
  • Other civil matters for Veterans, including bankruptcy, housing, landlord/tenant, Social Security disability, and wills. For these types of matters, services are for residents of Orange and Windsor counties.  
  • Divorces, parentage/custody issues and assistance to survivors of domestic violence and other victims of crime.  Services are for residents of Windsor/Orange counties. 
  • Representation of children in Family and Probate Courts in Orange, Windsor, and Washington counties. 

Contact:

802-831-1500 | smee@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.

 

Windsor County Family Law Information Sessions

South Royalton Legal Clinic staff answer questions related to family law including divorce, parentage, custody, child support and other family law topics. 

Held at Windsor County Superior Court, 82 Railroad Row, White River Junction, on the fourth Friday of each month, 1:00-4:00 p.m., except:

  • The November session will be held November 18 instead of the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Sessions will not be held December 2022, May 2023, or August 2023. 

Appointment required. Call 802-295-8865 to make 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.

 

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

 

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

 

To ask for help, call 800-889-2047, or fill out the online Legal Help Request Form.

Other Resources

Community Legal Information Center

Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, Vermont Law 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, email clic@vermontlaw.edu, or visit in person.

 

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.  

 

Vermont Civil Legal Resources by County

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

 

Consumer Assistance Program at the University of Vermont 

Provides help with problems with purchased goods or services they purchased and provide information and consumer rights and responsibilities.

 

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 Immigrant Assistance Project

Immigration law help provided including asylum, VAWA, U and T Visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and deferred action cases.

 

Vermont Veterans Legal Assistance Project

Helps veterans with appeals from the denial of VA benefits and discharge upgrades. Helps veterans in Windsor and Orange counties with civil legal problems in areas such as bankruptcy, fam

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.