Common Questions

What is Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida?

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida (CLSMF) is the oldest and largest provider of free legal aid for low-to-moderate-income residents in Central Florida. Since 1966, we have been providing legal assistance and advocacy to help the people of Central Florida obtain the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, health care, safety and education.

How can I get a lawyer?

If you need legal assistance, please call our Helpline Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Our helpline specialists will walk you through a brief eligibility screening process. If you are eligible for our services, you will be scheduled to speak with an attorney who will discuss your issue with you. Cases needing more than telephone consultation are served at local offices according to our case acceptance criteria.

For faster service, you can apply for help online.

What kind of problems should I call about?

CLSMF can help you with a wide range of legal issues including:

  • Consumer issues such as debt collection, garnishment, repossession, contracts, debtor harassment and other consumer matters;
  • Children and Education issues which focus on providing legal representation to children with special needs throughout our 12 county region;
  • Domestic Violence where our lawyers and advocates can give legal advice and representation for victims of domestic violence;
  • Elder Abuse/Seniors issues where senior citizens’ ages 60 and older who are or have been a victim of a crime and/or may have concerns such as living wills, financial scams, health care, and durable powers of attorney;
  • Family Law issues including divorce, child custody and visitation issues;
  • Housing issues including evictions and rental problems for both private and subsidized housing,foreclosure and other home loan problem;
  • Public Benefits which includes a wide range of topics such as Medicaid, Medicare and private health insurance issues, food stamps, child care supplements, unemployment compensation and more;
  • Tax Controversy Assistance which helps low-income taxpayers with federal income tax controversies less than $50,000; and
  • Veteran’s issues including the filing of claims for disability compensation and/or pensions, defending inappropriate discharge, discharge characterization or disability rating, applying for dependent and survivor benefits and a wide range of other issues.

CLSMF can also help with probate matters including guardianship defense, wills, living wills, small estates and powers of attorney.

Does Community Legal Services handle criminal cases or traffic court cases?

No, call the local Public Defender or ask the Court to appoint an attorney for you.

What information will I need when I call or come to Community Legal Services?

To determine eligibility for our services, we will ask you questions about your household income. Please be prepared with all of the papers regarding your legal problem.

What do Community Legal Services Attorneys do?

Lawyers in a legal aid office provide the same legal services as any other attorneys. They can advise and represent you in most areas of civil law, although each program has priorities for the type of cases they will take.

Because the number of people demanding legal services exceeds the amount of staff and money available to handle cases, CLSMF cannot take every case.

Criminal cases are not handled because the state provides public defenders to represent persons accused of criminal actions who cannot afford private attorneys.

Also, the legal aid offices generally do not deal with cases where a person is seeking money as a settlement. In such cases a private attorney will usually represent a client without any initial charge, collecting a fee only if the client’s case is won. The attorney’s fee is a percentage of the client’s settlement. This is called a contingency fee.

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida complies with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Appropriate legal aid is provided to all eligible clients without regard to race, age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, status as a disabled Veteran and/or Veteran of the Vietnam Era, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

If you believe that you have been denied legal services or otherwise illegally discriminated against based on one of the protected characteristics stated above, you may contact any of the following to file a complaint: