Getting Legal Help in Maryland: What is it, and what does it cost?

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Free Help logo
Free help
Reduced Fee logo
Reduced-fee help
Normal Fee logo
Fee-based help

Types of Help

Legal information
Legal Information
Legal advice
Legal Advice
Full representation logo
Full Representation

limited scope

"Limited Scope"

Other Options


How much does legal help cost?

Unlike criminal cases, the Constitution does not guarantee legal help in all civil cases. Legal help, like all help from professionals, can be expensive.  But you have several options.

Getting help from a professional can make a major problem or question much easier. 


Free Help logo Free Help

Some sources of free legal help include:

Read more: Do I Qualify for Free or Low Cost Legal Help?


Normal Fee logo Reduced-fee help

  • Even if your income is higher than the cut-off for certain free programs, it can be hard to afford legal fees. Some lawyers offer reduced-fee services, based on your individual circumstances.
  • Reduced-Fee Service Providers
  • "Limited Scope" representation: It’s always good to have more help, rather than less.  However, in some situations, a lawyer may be willing to help you with part of a problem or case instead of the entire process. 

Read more: Do I Qualify for Free or Low Cost Legal Help?


Reduced Fee logo Fee-based help

Fees for service are negotiated between the attorney and client.

Some ways to find a private lawyer:

Things to consider:


How much help will I get?

There are three kinds of legal help that people often get: legal information, legal advice, and full representation. Legal information and advice can help a great deal, even if you will represent yourself in court, or don't have to go to court.

You generally have the right to represent yourself in court.  However, in some cases, it is important to have a lawyer's help.


Legal information logo Legal Information

What it is:

  • Explaining what the law says, what it means, and how the legal system works.
  • Providing lists of the legal options for people in common situations.
  • Providing step-by-step instructions for how to get things done in court.
  • Providing forms that help you explain your situation.
  • Providing referrals to connect you with more help.

Who provides it: Legal information can come from lawyers, librarians, government employees, and published resources.


Legal advice logo Legal Advice

What it is:

  • Giving predictions about what will happen if you make certain choices.
  • Giving opinions about what choices you should make.
  • Writing legal documents for you to use in court or out of court.

Who provides it: Legal advice comes from lawyers, and is based on listening to you and understanding your specific situation.


Legal representation logo Full Representation

What it is:

  • Speaking for you and represent your interests to another person or in court.
  • Writing legal documents for you, filing documents with the court, and appearing on your behalf before the court.

Who provides it: Representation usually comes from lawyers, who must speak and act in a way that fits with your goals.


limited scope "Limited scope" representation

Between legal advice and full representation, there is a range of options. At the low end, brief legal advice involves a short conversation with a lawyer. This can take place in person, by phone, or on the internet.

In Maryland, you and your lawyer can agree to share the legal tasks. This is called "limited scope" representation.

You can even agree for the lawyer to appear in court for just part of your case.  This is called a “limited appearance.” This can be one more way of getting some help, even if you cannot afford to pay for full representation.


handshake Other options


Mediation is a process in which a trained neutral person, a “mediator,” helps people communicate with one another and reach agreements that satisfy everyone’s needs. Mediation can be a lower cost solution to resolving a dispute in many situations.

Non-Legal Assistance

2-1-1 Maryland, Inc.
2-1-1 is an easy to remember, toll free telephone number that provides comprehensive information about community services, crisis intervention, referrals to programs, and volunteerism. Callers can dial 2-1-1 on their phones 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 2-1-1 can link people to resources in 150+ languages. If you call 2-1-1, you will speak with trained specialists who listen as you  explain your situation, work with you to assess your problems and needs, and help you find answers to your questions.

Telephone: 211; Online chat

Maryland Access Point
The Maryland Access Point (MAP) centers were established as the single entry point for individuals seeking long term support services.  Maryland's 20 local MAP sites provide individual, person centered counseling to consumers seeking information, referral, and program support for long term services. 


Dave Pantzer, Esq., Maryland State Law Library; updated by PLL Contributors
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2021.”