Who is Eligible?
Residents of Lake, Porter, Jasper or Newton Counties of Indiana whose gross household income meets applicable federal poverty level guidelines. (If you do not reside in these counties but have a legal case in a court in one of our counties you must apply through the legal aid or pro bono organization that serves the county where you reside.)
- Not-for-profit charitable organizations that primarily serve low-income persons and are officed in one of our counties.
Not eligible: persons who are incarcerated.
What Legal Problems are eligible for possible assistance from one of our volunteer attorneys?
- Family: divorce, support, parenting time, paternity, guardianships, custody.
- Housing: tenant/landlord disputes, foreclosures, title to property, habitability.
- Consumer: fair debt collection, bankruptcy (NOTE: to apply for bankruptcy help you must first be screened through Indiana Legal Services: 219-738-6040).
- Probate: adult guardianships, POA, HealthCare POA, small estates.
- Public Benefits: TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, township poor relief, veterans' benefits.
- Not-for-profit charitable organizations corporate matters.
What is NWI Volunteer Lawyers, Inc?
- An Indiana non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 2001 under the Indiana Supreme Court's pro bono initiative, Rule 6.5 of Indiana's Rules of Professional Conduct.
- Funded by the Indiana Bar Foundation, from Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Funds, and by donations from attorneys, local bar associations, charitable foundations, and other generous folks who treasure our constitutional judicial system.
- Governed by a Board of Directors comprised of Northwest Indiana judges, lawyers, and representatives of social services and the low-income community, currently chaired by the Hon. Magistrate Michael Pagano.
Who are our volunteers?
Attorneys from all four of the counties that we serve sign up to assist low-income folks who have urgent civil legal problems without charging a fee for their services. We currently have over 400 volunteers. and over 200 active cases.
How long does it take to be referred to a pro bono lawyer?
We do not guarantee that we will have an available volunteer to help you....but we try very hard!
Family law representation is our most frequent request and has our longest waiting time...often several weeks, depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of a volunteer. We prioritize domestic violence situations. We also refer eligible applicants to pro se clinics to at least get initial cases filed where appropriate. A link to downloadable court forms that you might use to initiate your court matter while you are waiting can be found on our Resources page.
*Other types of legal matters can often be referred much more quickly.