Online Legal Resources Training

           Outreach Coordinators:
           Erin Smith and Lori Williams
           Phone: 512.320.0099
State of the State ...............................................................................................3

Understanding the Justice System .....................................................................4

Structure of Civil Legal Aid ...............................................................................5

Beyond Legal Aid: Filling the Gap.....................................................................7

Texas Law ...........................................................................................8

Answers to Legal Questions .............................................................................9

Search for Legal Assistance .............................................................................15

Courts .............................................................................................................16

Other Assistance .............................................................................................16

Research Links .................................................................................................17

Tips for Getting Around: ..................................................................................18

Legal Resources ...............................................................................................19

Texas Legal Aid ...............................................................................................19

Texas Legal Aid Programs ............................................................................................ 19

Federal Constitution, Statutes, and Regulations ..............................................20

Texas Constitution, Statutes, and Regulations .................................................20

Federal Courts .................................................................................................20

Legal Research.................................................................................................21

Texas State Law Library ..................................................................................21

Law Journals and Law Reviews ......................................................................21

Legal Ethics ......................................................................................................21

Attorney Directories .........................................................................................22

Pro Bono Resources .........................................................................................22

National Support Programs .............................................................................23 Needs Your Help ...............................................................31
State of the State

In 2004, 3.7 million Texans were living in poverty. During their lives, many will encounter legal
problems that they cannot deal with on their own. According to the American Bar Association,
approximately 75 percent of low-income Texans with civil legal problems do not receive the
legal assistance they need due to limited resources. Unlike indigent individuals facing criminal
charges, poor Texans with civil legal problems are not guaranteed an attorney. Legal aid
organizations, with very limited resources, assisted 99,000 people last year, providing free advice
or representation to Texans living in poverty.

Legal aid attorneys help people who often have nowhere else to turn: families experiencing
domestic violence, elderly Texans facing eviction and workers facing unsafe working conditions are
just a few examples. Texas still ranks 40th in the nation in terms of funding for legal aid, however.
With resources severely limited, legal aid organizations must turn away three of every four
indigent Texans in need of meaningful access to our civil justice system.

Recognizing that many people could be served by greater access to legal information and
appropriate resources, legal aid organizations are focusing on the Internet as an innovative
method by which to serve more people. According to a survey conducted in 2000 by the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration, low-income people are the fastest-growing
population to use the Internet. While 30 percent of those earning under $30,000 were online
in 2000, 40 percent of those currently not online anticipated going online in the future. Perhaps
most important, people with low-incomes overwhelmingly used the Internet for self-betterment
(researching schools, jobs and job training programs) and locating practical information.

In an effort to capitalize on these important trends, the Texas legal aid community launched an
Internet-based strategy aimed at providing low-income people the information and resources
they need to tackle their civil legal problems productively— In
early 2005, the Partnership for Legal Access, composed of the Texas Equal Access to Justice
Foundation (TEAJF), the Travis County Law Library and the Texas Legal Services Center, was
awarded a $362,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency to enhance and promote this
free, comprehensive, one-stop Internet resource for civil legal information. As Betty Balli Torres,
executive director of TEAJF, explains, “With the need for legal assistance always outpacing the
resources available to meet that need, we must find innovative solutions to help more Texans
access the justice system. is just such a solution.”

About Training

As you read through this curriculum, there are a number of things you should keep in mind about First, is general legal information, not legal advice, which
comes from an attorney. You should be clear with your patrons and clients that you are not an
attorney either, and that you are just giving them information, not advice. If they need advice they
should contact a lawyer or the legal aid office.

Secondly, Web sites are living changing entities. As we strive to improve,
some things may change from what is listed here in this curriculum. Similarly, more content is
being added all the time. Often, this process involves sporadic kinks, so please do not become
discouraged if there is a broken link, etc. In fact, please feel free to let us know. Also, come early
2006, we hope to have begun translating many more documents into Spanish.

    Understanding the Justice System

    There are two main branches to the justice system in the United States: criminal courts, which are
    concerned about public order, and civil courts, which handle disputes between citizens, companies,
    and private parties.

    Three main factors divide the criminal and civil court system:

                  •   Criminal matters typically bear the risk of jail
                  •   Criminal matters are always prosecuted by the state on behalf of public order
                  •   Civil matters are arbitrated by the state, undertaken by private parties, and
                      typically do not involve jail time and civil legal aid organizations focus on helping individuals deal with their
    civil legal matters.

             •    Civil cases involve disputes over private, not criminal, matters: family law, contracts,
                  wills, and housing. They can also deal with public matters, like constitutional rights.
             •    Civil actions have a wide variety of outcomes: sometimes fines will be assessed,
                  victims of domestic violence can get a protective order, etc.
             •    Family law, including marriages and child custody, falls under the Civil Law category and other organizations dedicated to civil legal aid do not focus on criminal
    law or criminal legal assistance. Other means are available for indigent and low-income criminal
    defendants in need of counsel. Unlike most other states, there is not an official public defender’s
    office in every county. Some counties have public defender’s offices, and in others, the courts pay
    private attorneys to represent indigent defendants. In order to receive state-funded counsel, the
    defendant must address the issue with the court.

             •    The person seeking appointment must be indigent. At the first court appearance, the
                  judge will ask a defendant if he or she can afford legal counsel. The court will then
                  make an inquiry into the “indigency” of the defendant. People who are below 150%
                  of the poverty line, who are mentally-ill and in a facility, or who can demonstrate
                  that a defense will pose a significant hardship to themselves and their dependents
                  can be eligible. The rules for eligibility differ from county to county.
             •    Counsel is usually appointed during the accused's first appearance before a
                  magistrate. The Court Administrative Office maintains a rosters of attorneys eligible
                  for appointment and will typically assign one of these. In some counties, judges
                  make the appointments and can/will appoint whomever is available. Each county
                  defines their own system for making appointments.
             •    There are limited options when there is no court-appointed counsel. Defendants can
                  request legal assistance at the following places: Law School Legal Clinics, Private
                  Attorneys, some non-profits. Social workers at court can assist people in need with
                  finding criminal legal aid resources as well.

Structure of Civil Legal Aid

Legal aid consists of two main components:

         •   Legal Aid Staff Model--non-profit groups that employ staff attorneys and
             paralegals dedicated to providing civil legal assistance to the low-income
         •   Pro Bono Model--lawyers volunteer with local bar associations or independent
             programs within law firms to take individual cases on a volunteer basis

In Texas, there are two main granting entities for legal aid. The federal government provides funds
via the Legal Services Corporation, while the state provides money through The Texas Equal Access
to Justice Foundation (TEAJF), which is the largest granter of legal aid in Texas. TEAJF grants over
millions dollars to 35 to 40 organizations every year.

The biggest providers of legal aid in Texas are funded by the Legal Services Corporation, a
federal entity dedicated to providing civil representation for low-income persons. These three
programs, LoneStar Legal Aid in East Texas, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT), and Texas
Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA) in South and West Texas, share the following service parameters and

         •   Federally funded legal aid programs typically serve people either at or below
             125% of federal poverty levels. Services are also provided for individuals seeking
             public benefits or who have extenuating financial burdens and are at or below
             150% of the poverty level
         •   Domestic violence victims and the elderly, as priority populations, have more flexible
             income requirements
         •   Programs create priorities which they use for decision making

The three LSC-funded programs cover different geographic regions of the state.

         •   Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: West and South Texas, from Austin through the Rio
             Grande Valley to El Paso
         •   Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas: Northwest Texas, including the Dallas/Fort Woth
             region and the Panhandle
         •   Lonestar Legal Aid: East Texas and the Houston area

Many other organizations provide legal assistance to targeted populations or are dedicated
to providing services for certain areas of the law. These organizations are typically funded by
grants and donations.

         •   Varied parameters for providing assistance: some programs operate on a reduced
             fee/sliding scale basis.
         •   Examples of targeted populations: elderly, children, persons with HIV/AIDS, the
             disabled, persons dealing with family violence. Areas of law: housing, civil rights,
             consumer, immigration, etc.

    Pro Bono Programs often work on the same guidelines as federally funded programs (at or
    below 125% of federal poverty guidelines, but some exceptions exist, wherein attorneys will take
    cases for clients who can’t pay or offer to represent them at a reduced cost).

    It is important to take the following into consideration with regard to legal assistance:

             •    Resources for legal aid are extremely limited. Organizations must turn away many
                  serious legal needs in order to address the most critical situations.
             •    50 percent of legal aid cases are in the family law area. A few programs limit
                  family law services to victims of physical domestic violence.

Beyond Legal Aid: Filling the Gap

Because legal aid organizations cannot serve all the people in need of legal assistance with the
limited resources at hand, it is important to be aware of alternative options. While it is ALWAYS
preferable to have professional counsel for complicated legal matters, this is not always possible.
Here are a few other options litigants can pursue in lieu of having an attorney represent them.

Legal Information

         •   Persons confronting a legal matter can often begin by locating legal information on
             the Internet or via their county law library (which is often located near the county
             court house).
         •   Many legal aid organizations have resources available through their Web site or in
             their offices.
         • is a one-stop clearing house for legal information and resources in
             the state of Texas.

Pro Se Litigation: Self-representation

         •   Mostly due to financial necessity, and sometimes due to preference, individuals may
             decide to represent themselves.
         •   With diligence, some legal procedures can be handled without a lawyer. Some
             common examples of these are:
                    i. name changes
                    ii. divorces that do not involve child custody or a large amount of property
                    iii. drafting a living will
                    iv. transferring medical power of attorney
         •   People that choose to represent themselves must pay careful attention to
                    i. having the proper paperwork
                    ii. filling out the details on the court forms correctly
                    iii. the court’s waiting periods and deadlines for filing
         •   In more complex matters, pro se representation can prove to be a significant
             challenge. In those situations, pro se litigants can consult with a lawyer in a limited
             capacity in a process called “unbundling” which is discussed below.

Lawyer Referral Services:

         •   State Bar of Texas operates a lawyer referral hotline for the entire state: 1-800-
             252-9690 or 1-877-9TEXBAR (toll free)
         •   Urban Areas have their own hotlines, which you can find through the above number
         •   Clients will receive a 30-minute consultation for $20, then negotiate additional
             services and fees with the individual lawyer. Visit the state bar web site
             for tips on how to work with a lawyer:
         •   Unbundled services: some lawyers are willing to provide limited services for reduced
             costs. In this situation, clients consult with a lawyer on some parts of the case, such as
             reviewing forms, etc. but are responsible for filing deadlines, etc. on their own.

    Texas Law provides free, reliable, easy-to-understand legal information, specifically
    tailored to the needs of low- income Texans.

               Launched in May of 2003 with funding from the Legal Services Corporation,
      is the result of a collaboration between Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas,
               the Texas Legal Services Center, and, a national organization that has spear-
               headed the creation and maintenance of Web sites in twenty-eight states. In
               February of 2005, the Partnership for Legal Access, composed of the Texas Equal Access
               to Justice Foundation (TEAJF), the Travis County Law Library and the Texas Legal Services
               Center, was awarded a grant from the Texas Education Agency to enhance and promote
      Through the funds available from this grant, staff
               will travel throughout Texas raising awareness of the Web site and educating librarians
               and community advocates about this and other online legal resources, as well as assisting
               organizations in increasing their own Internet presence.

    Role of Librarians & Advocates: You are the front lines!!!

               •   Directing patrons and clients to Many people in need of legal
                   assistance go to public libraries or other assistance organizations for help. In order
                   to effectively reach people who most need legal information and resources, it is
                   imperative that advocates at these libraries and assistance organizations direct their
                   patrons and clients to the
               •   Helping patrons and clients use While is easy
                   to use, we want to ensure that people can find the information they are looking for.
                   Ideally, librarians and advocates would guide their clients and patrons through the
                   search process and explain to them the different types of information available on
                   the site.
               •   Providing Feedback: In order to improve the Web site, and prove its usefulness
                   as a tool for helping low-income persons. As part of our grant requirements,
          needs librarians and advocates to provide feedback on how
                   many people they directed to the site and how many people they helped use the

    How do I use How do I help my patrons and clients use it? is designed to be easy to use and easy to understand. Even people with very
    little experience with computers and the Internet can work through the site with a little guidance.
    While there is no need to memorize all the aspects of the Web site, knowing the different
    functions, and where to find certain types of information can help your clients find the information
    they need with ease. is divided into three main functions: legal information, locating legal aid offices
    locally, and locating other assistance organizations. Visitors can also find information about the
    court system, and contact information for a variety of state agencies. In the following section, you
    will learn how to navigate the various sections.

Answers to Legal Questions:
The main meat of is a database of more than 400 resource documents, ranging
from Frequently Asked Questions about a topic, such as “child custody” for example, to step-by-
step explanations of some legal processes.

Home Page: All of’s information and resources are organized into different
buckets. Understanding what type of information exists in the buckets is important for directing
clients and patrons to the correct resource. You will find icons for the buckets on the landing page

            Family Law and
            Domestic Violence

         This section covers divorce, child custody, child support, protective orders, paternity, the
         Family and Medical Leave Act, family violence, and juvenile justice. The Family Law
         section of is the most heavily viewed bucket.

         In March, a Protective Order Kit was added to the site in order to better serve victims of
         domestic violence. While it is preferable that people living in violent situations seek legal
         assistance to escape abusive situations, the Protective Order Kit enables victims to get
         protection on their own, for themselves if necessary.

         Examples of situations wherein you should direct people to the Family Law Section of
               “My wife and I separated and we want a divorce.”
               “What do I do if my ex-husband isn’t giving me any money to support our child?”
               “My sister’s boyfriend is abusive and I’d like to help her.”
               “What are my rights as a father?”


         This section covers a wide swath of consumer and finance related issues. Topics covered
         here include: automobiles (what to look for when purchasing one; what to do after an
         accident; insurance; and car repair), bankruptcy and debt collection, consumer fraud, and
         small claims court.

         Examples of common questions:
         “I got into an automobile accident…what do I need to do?”
         “I bought a car two weeks ago, and now it’s not working.”
         “Creditors keep calling my house and threatening me. What are my options?”
         “I think I might have been tricked by a telemarketer…”

        Wills & Estates

     Accessible information about wills and medical power of attorney is in demand. In the
     Wills and Estates section of the site, visitors can find information about creating different
     types of wills, what needs to happen with a will after someone dies, and similar issues
     of importance to elderly or ill individuals and their families, as well as those who lose a
     loved one unexpectedly.

     Under the subtopic of “Powers of attorney/advance directives/living wills,” there are
     forms which allow people to outline their provisions for medical treatment and transfer
     decision-making responsibility for their health care to another individual.

     Many of the subtopics listed here are also listed in the Elder Law section.

     Common questions pertaining to this area include:
     “My father is sick and he wants to insure that his property is divided equally.”
     “My mother passed away and did not leave a will; what should we do?”


     Immigration is a complex federal matter. contains links to the proper
     forms for applying for refuge status and VISAS, as well as frequently asked questions
     about the process. Similarly, this topic includes information on the process of becoming a
     U.S. citizen.

     Also included are documents that address the dangers of hiring smugglers/traders for
     illegal border crossings, and warning recent immigrants about fraudulent “notarios”
     (people who pose as immigration attorneys).

     Questions that may lead you to suggest this section are as follows:
     “My mother is in Nicaragua and I’d like to find out how I can move her here.”
     “My work VISA is about to run out, but I want to stay here in my job.”
     “I’m applying for citizenship and have no idea where to start.”


     Persons with disabilities can find many documents discussing a range of pertinent issues.
     This section provides information on the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
     and employers’ obligations under the law. This section also has information for applying
     for medicare benefits, how to cover out-of-pocket medicare expenses, and guardianship
     for persons with disabilities and mental illness, among others.

Some questions that may lead you to suggest this section are:
“I’m confused about my medicare benefit…”
“Getting around the office in my wheel chair is really difficult for me and my employer
tells me to just deal with it…do I have any options besides quitting my job?”
“My adult son has a mental disability…how can we work out his medical treatment?”

   Civil Rights

Currently, features three main areas regarding civil rights:
discrimination, first amendment protections, and denial of due process (the proper
application of the law). Currently, has a number of resources outlining
different types of discrimination (age, race, sex, national origin, disability, religion) and
the legal recourse individuals have when they suspect discrimination.

 Common questions for this area:
“My employer won’t let me observe a holy day that is important in my faith…”
“I was fired after I told my boss I was pregnant.”
“Even though we’ve been rated the same on job performance and have spent more time
at my company than many of my colleagues, I keep getting passed up for raises.”


The Housing section covers renting, home-ownership, mobile homes and public housing.
One can find information about fair rental practices, landlord-tenant rights and
responsibilities, and even a “Renter’s Kit” with tips for renters about public vs. private
housing, security deposits, dealing with a landlord, eviction, etc.

Similarly, this section also covers home ownership and mobile home ownership.
Explanations of home equity loans, tips on buying and selling a home, and common
questions for first time homebuyers are all included here.

This section also has links to federal housing programs and public housing authorities in
Texas, as well as information on subsidized housing.

Common Questions:
“My landlord threatened to put all my possessions on the street tomorrow if I don’t pay
my rent…”
“I’m a first-time home buyer, where do I start.”
“I bought a new mobile home, but the roof already leaks. The salesman is saying that
there’s nothing he can do about it…”

        Public Benefits

     With the state’s Health and Human Services Commission closing walk-in offices and
     employing a call center model, more people may be coming to libraries and other
     advocacy organizations for information and help understanding what public benefits they
     are eligible for and how to apply for them.

     This section covers cash assistance (Temporary Aid for Needy Families, or TANF), food
     stamps, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WICs), and children’s
     Medicaid and health programs. It also covers other public benefits such as Social
     Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Worker’s Compensation.

     Cue questions might be:
     “I don’t understand the new CHIP requirements…what do I need to do so my kids can visit
     a doctor?”
     “I’m not receiving my social security check anymore…where do I go?”
     “I just lost my job and need to get food for my family.”


     Like some of the sections listed above, the Health bucket has resources for persons
     seeking information and resources related to Medicaid/Medicare, children’s health
     insurance, mental health, powers of attorney, and worker’s compensation. In addition, it
     has resources on prescription drug benefits, nursing homes, insurance, and AIDS/HIV.

     Cue questions could be:
     “I don’t understand the new prescription drug options under Medicaid.”
     “I’m trying to find hospice services for my friend who has AIDS.”
     “I want to know about long-term care insurance…”

        Elder Law

     This section combines a number of documents and resources addressing the medical and
     financial aspects of growing older. In addition to benefits like Medicaid, Medicare, and
     Social Security, this section highlights nursing homes, guardianship, powers of attorney,
     and living wills.

     Potential questions that would lead you to direct a client include:
     “How should I go about selecting a nursing home for my mother…”
     “How do I write a living will…”
     “How do I apply for Medicaid benefits?”

   Work (Employment)

Many workers are not aware of their rights as employees. This section reviews a
number of those rights, specifically in regards to disabilities, fair labor standards, on-
the-job safety, and wrongful termination. It also includes resources on benefits, pensions,
health care, and the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act. One can also find
explanations of unemployment insurance and links to job-finding tips and resources.

Inquiries that would lead you to suggest this bucket:
“Is my employer obligated to pay me overtime?”
“My father is ill and I need to take care of him…is there anyway I can do that and still
keep my job?”

   Migrant Workers

Because of their non-resident status, migrant workers can be easy targets for unscrupulous
employers. This section contains information about fair labor standards and the
Agricultural Worker Protection Act, which was created distinctly to ensure the safe
housing and fair treatment of migrant workers. There is also information on safe working

People concerned about these issues might be hesitant to share their immigration status
with you. It might be best to approach this issue along the line of “these are common
problems of workers/agricultural workers/day laborers.”

Some cue questions could be:
“I wasn’t paid what I was promised after a week’s worth of work.”
“My boss said that I have to buy food from the company store.”

   Disaster Relief

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have created an unprecendented need for disaster relief
resources. With information on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) benefits,
insurance claims, unemployment insurance, child support payments, and much more, this
bucket is designed as a clearinghouse for legal matters arising from these disasters.
Created in the wake of the hurricanes, resources are being added to the bucket as they
become available.

Common questions might be:
“I have settled here because I no longer have a job in New Orleans. How do I apply for
unemployment benefits?”
“I had Medicare benefits in Lousiana. How do I make sure that those continue here in
     Types of Resources:

     •   Information:
              Most sub-topics have documents that explain the basics of a given situation, for example
              “Common Questions About Divorce” or “Visitation: Is there a Standard Schedule?” These
              documents are designed to give people background and make them aware of their

     •   Self-Help Kits and Forms:

              In some sections, especially in the Family Law bucket and the Wills and Testaments bucket,
              there are kits and forms which will guide people through simple court procedures.
              Important things to keep in mind about the forms:

                           •   These forms are in PDF format. Over the length of the project some forms
                               will be transformed into forms that individuals can fill out online and print
                               out with their information filled in.
                           •   The forms have step-by-step instructions designed to guide individuals
                               through the document
                           •   They are designed to be accepted throughout the state of Texas. When
                               this is not the case, it has been noted in the description of the form.

     Problem Solving: What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?

         •    Try looking in another bucket that is related. For example, with elderly concerns,
              you may want to direct people to Elder Issues, Health, Public Benefits, and Wills and
              Testaments. While a number of resources are cross-listed, some are only contained in one
              bucket. Don’t give up on the first try.
         •    Try the Search tool, discussed in Tips for Getting Around

Search for Legal Assistance

The Search for Legal Assistance function is designed to put people in touch with legal aid resources
right in their own community or region.

People can search for Legal Assistance two ways:

     •     From the Buckets:
           1. Choose a bucketChoose a subtopic
           2. From the resource listings page, click on the Find Legal Assistance

           3.   At that point you will be prompted to type in your zip code, city, or county. Click Go.

     •     From the Home page:
           1. Click on Advanced Search for Help on the top, blue navigation bar.

           2.   This page prompts you for three pieces of information
                     a) Location: county or zip code
                     b) Type of legal problem: Choose a general category (mirrors buckets) then a
                         specific concern (mirrors subtopics)
                     c) Client information: if the client falls into any of the categories listed, they
                         may be eligible for assistance targeting specific groups (elderly, domestic
                         violence survivor, AIDS patient, etc.)


     •     Listing of local legal aid organizations that provide assistance for topic/subtopic you
           were searching under.
     •     Contact information, type of assistance and eligibility requirements for each


     This function assists visitors in understanding what court will handle their case, and what different
     courts do.

     You must access Courts from the topic buckets:
                  1. Choose a bucketChoose a subtopic
                  2. From the resource listings page, click on Courts

         • The information found under the Courts tab is the same throughout the site, regardless of
              topic. It contains 12 resources explaining the different courts one may encounter in Texas.

     Other Assistance

     The Other Assistance function is designed to help visitors in meeting their non-legal needs. Often,
     a legal problem is just one of many issues facing low-income individuals and families.

     You must access Other Assistance from the topic buckets.

                    1.   Choose a bucketChoose a subtopic
                    2.   From the resource listings page, click on Other Assistance

          •     The list of resources found in Other Assistance is not comprehensive. In every case,
                however, there is a link to “Finding Help in Texas” which displays the phone number and
                Web site link for all of the regional United Way Foundations in Texas. United Way
                operates the most comprehensive directory of local assistance organizations in the state
                through their 211 hotline number, which is accessible for all Texans, free of charge.

Research Links

The Research Links function allows visitors to access full text laws, government agencies, law
libraries and county Web sites. The items in Research Links are not tailored to each topic,
however, so visitors may have to scroll through to find the entity or organization they are looking

You must access Research Links from the topic buckets.

             1.   Choose a bucketChoose a subtopic
             2.   From the resource listings page, click on Research Links
    • As stated above, visitors can access various useful sites via the Research Links. For those
         who would like to access more information about a legal problem, the links to county law
         libraries can be especially helpful. Similarly, if a visitor has a public benefits question
         related to a specific government agency, he or she can access that agency’s Web site
         through this page. This function serves as a convenient pathway for accessing related
         information from other sources.

     Tips for Getting Around:

     Search Function:

         •    Boolean search: responds to queries using
              operators like and, or, not etc. When you
              type in child custody it will search for the exact
              phrase; for a broader search, type in child and
         •    Search indices include all of the major fields associated with each piece of content
              including the body of file attachments in most common file formats, including Word,
              WordPerfect, Excel, HTML and most PDF files.
         •    Results: The results page shows the first three resources in each category (Legal
              Information, Find Legal Assistance, Other Assistance, and News). Click at the bottom
              of that section or on the right navigation tool to see full listings of the resources in any
              one category.

     Right-side Navigation Tool:

         •    From the Buckets: Once you clicked through a
              bucket and choose a subtopic, you can switch
              to any of the other subtopics by locating them
              on the right-side navigation tool. You can also
              choose to view all the resources under the main
              bucket by clicking the “View All Subtopics”
         •    From Search: Once your search query returns
              results, you can move between the different
              categories (Legal Information, Find Legal
              Assistance, Other Assistance, and News) by
              clicking on their links in the right side navigation
              tool. When you do this, you will be able to
              view all the resources in that category.

     Resources in Other Languages
         • In the right-side navigation bar, you will find
             a link that says Espanol; clicking this link will
             provide a full listing of all the Spanish resources
             on the site, divided by bucket.
         • only has resources in English
             and Spanish currently. If and when we acquire
             resources in other foreign languages, they will be listed as options in the same area on
             the right-side navigation bar.
         • Search Tool: You can use the search tool to search for Spanish-language resources as
             well. The explanations of the items, however, are in English. Clicking on the “Espanol” link
             will take you to the Spanish version of the document.

Legal Resources

Texas Legal Aid
Legal Services Corporation Providers ( Private, non-profit corporation established
by Congress to seek to ensure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans by providing
civil legal assistance to those who otherwise would be unable to afford it. The organizations listed
below are the largest LSC-funded providers of legal aid in Texas and the only offices funded by
LSC. In many communities however, there are smaller legal aid providers working on specific issues
or assisting certain populations. Visit for a complete listing of providers
available in your community.

    •    Lone Star Legal Aid: serving all the areas surrounding Houston, Galveston, and Beaumont
         and all the counties in East Texas
              • 1-800-733-8394
    •    Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas: serving all the counties in North and Northwest Texas,
         beginning at the Dallas area and covering counties in North Central Texas and the
         Panhandle region
              • 1-888-529-5277
    •    Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: serving counties in Central, West, and South Texas, including
         Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, the entire Rio Grande Valley and the entire
         Texas-Mexico border
              • 1-888-988-9996

Texas Legal Aid Programs and the services they provide

    •    AIDS Legal Resource Project Legal Line,,1-800-828-6417
             • advice and referrals for people with HIV or AIDS
    •    Advocacy, Inc.,, 1-800-315-3876
             • representation concerning disability-related issues, including access and
    •    American Civil Liberties Union of Texas,
             • representation concerning civil rights and civil liberties
    •    Legal Hotline for Texans,, 1-800-622-2520
             • advice and referrals for Texans looking for legal assistance
    •    Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund,,
             • representation concerning civil rights, racial discrimination, and voting rights
    •    Texas Civil Rights Project,
             • representation concerning civil rights
    •    Texas Legal Services Center,
             • support center and information clearinghouse for Texas legal services
    •    Texas Tenant's Advisor,
             • provides information about the rights of low-income renters, but DOES NOT
                 PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE
    •    Women's Advocacy Project, Inc.,, 1-800-777-3247
             • advice and referrals for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence
     Federal Constitution, Statutes, and Regulations

         •   U.S. Constitution:
         •   Bill of Rights: experience/charters/bill_of_
         •   United States Code:
         •   U.S. Code Classification Tables:
                  •     listing of U.S.C. sections amended by recent laws
         •   U.S. Code Table of Popular Names:
                  • listing of common names for legislative acts linked to the relevant sections of the
         •   Code of Federal Regulations:

     Texas Constitution, Statutes, and Regulations

         •   Constitution:
         •   Texas Statutes:
         •   Texas Administrative Code:

     Federal Courts
         •   Federal Judiciary Homepage:
                  • clearinghouse for information for and about the Judicial Branch
         •   Federal Judicial Center :
                  • research and education agency of the federal judicial system
         •   Supreme Court :
         •   U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit:
         •   U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:
         •   U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas:
         •   U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas:
         •   U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas:
         •   U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas:
         •   Federal Courts Finder:
                  • searchable guide to federal courts. Courtesy of the Emory Law Library
         •   Federal Civil Trials Database:
                  • covering federal district-court cases terminated over the last 17 years
     Texas Courts

         •   Texas Judiciary Online:

Legal Research

    •   American Law Sources On-Line (ALSO!):
             •    provides links to free sources of on-line legal research for the U.S., Mexico, and
    •   Cornell Legal Information Institute:
             • provides access to full-text laws, court decisions, and much more
    •   FindLaw:
             • portal to information about all aspects of law and legal practice
    •   LawCrawler:
             • allows you to search the entire web for legal information
    •   Hieros Gamos:
             • legal research center covering U.S. and international law
    •   Internet Law Library Hosted by
             • access point to federal and state laws and regulations, originally built and
                 maintained by the U.S. House of Representatives
             •    internet directory with links covering all aspects of law
    •   Internet Legal Resource Guide:
             • categorized index of thousands of law-related websites
             • provides legal advice and information on over 100 legal topics
    •   Nolo Self-Help Law Center:
             • provides easy-to-understand information concerning all aspects of law and the
                 legal system

Texas State Law Library

    •   Texas State Law Library:

Law Journals and Law Reviews

    •   Directory of Law Reviews and Legal Journals:
            • courtesy of the University of Southern California Law School

Legal Ethics

    •   American Legal Ethics Library:
            • gateway to legal ethics resources on the internet
    •   Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism:
    •   Texas Ethics Commission:
    •   Texas Ethics Reporter:
            • courtesy of the University of Houston Law Center

     Attorney Directories

         •   FindLaw West Legal Directory:
         •   Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Directory:
         •   Directory of Prosecuting Attorneys, District Attorneys, Attorneys General, and U.S.
                 • national directory maintained by the Eaton County, Michigan Prosecuting Attorney
         •   Attorney and Firm Directory Search:
                 • a listing/directory of attorneys in Texas and court staff

     Pro Bono Resources

         •   ABA National Directory of Pro Bono Programs:
                 • network of public interest lawyers and pro bono attorneys

National Support Programs
These national programs have resources available for individuals and organizations that want to
learn more about an issue or want to get more involved in a particular cause. They have resources
that range from the personally practical (tips for veterans benefits, how migrant workers can
acquire driver’s licenses, etc.) to the community-focused (how to organize for better schools in your
community). Please be aware that some of these resources cost money if you direct people to
these sites.

American Bar Association
740 15th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 2005-1019
Phone: 202-662-1000
Public Resources:
Practical Law Resources:
Spanish Language Resources:

The ABA’s public resources site offers
    • downloadable, comprehensive Fact Books on the American Judicial System, Children and
        the Law, Women and the Law, Law and the Elderly, and Privacy and Cyberspace
    • collections of resources covering the following topics: Client Protection Directories,
        Consumer Legal Issues, Domestic Violence, Estate Planning, Wills, Probate and Trusts,
        Family Law, Homelessness and Poverty, Human Rights, Immigration, Intellectual Property
        Law Pro Bono Resources in the U.S, Mental and Physical Disability Law, Protection for
        Online Shopping, State Programs for Older Persons, Tax Tips

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
1101 15th Street, NW, Ste 1212
Washington, D.C. 20005-5002
Phone: 202-467-5730
Fax:    202-223-0409
TDD:    202-467-4232

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a national legal advocate for people with mental
disabilities. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Web site has
    • links to state organizations dedicated to assisting with Mental Health issues
    • resources for individuals with mental and developmental disabilities and their families
    • directory of lawyers practicing disability law

     Center for Law and Education (CLE)
     1875 Connecticut, NW, Ste 510
     Washington, D.C. 20009
     Phone: 202-986-3000
     Fax:     202-986-6648

     The Center for Law Education focuses on the right of all students to quality public educations. They
     work for school policy reform, with a special emphasis on improving educational outcomes for
     low-income students. They offer expertise about the legal rights and responsibilities of students
     and school personnel, as well as about federal requirements and initiatives. Some of the resources
     available through their Web site cover the following:
          • Educational rights for students with disabilities
          • School reform through community involvement (relates to Title I federal program)
          • Improving vocational training options within high schools

     Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
     1015 15th Street, NW, Ste 400
     Washington, D.C. 20005
     Phone: 202-906-8000
     Fax:     202-842-2885

     The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national nonprofit that works to improve the
     lives of low-income people. CLASP’s mission is to improve the economic security, educational and
     workforce prospects, and family stability of low-income parents, children, and youth. Online
     resources include:
          • Comprehensive reports and policy briefs on family policy and equal justice issues.
          • Regular tracking of federal and state family and social policy and equal justice
                developments affecting low-income families.
          • Training opportunities and technical assistance to officials and advocates in states and

     Child Care Law Center
     221 Pine Street, 3rd Floor
     San Francisco, CA 94104
     Phone: 415-394-7144
     Fax:    415-394-7140

     The Child Care Law Center (CCLC) is a national nonprofit legal services organization that focuses
     on using legal tools to make high quality, affordable child care available to children and families
     in all communities. Resources and Services offered include:
          • Legal information hotline: Anyone with a question about legal issues relating to child
               care may call the Service Line at (415) 394-7144 between 12 and 3 p.m. Pacific Time
               on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays to speak with a staff attorney or a law student
               working under the supervision of an attorney.
          • Free publications detailing the rights of disabled children and their parents seeking child
          • Rights and responsibilities of persons practicing in-home family child care

Farmer’s Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG)
360 North Robert Street, Ste 500
St. Paul, MN 55101-1109
Phone: 651-223-5400
1-877-860-4349 (MN Only)
Fax: 651-223-5335

Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) is a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal
services to family farmers and their rural communities in order to help keep family farmers on the
     • Consolidated list of links for disaster/emergency relief for farmers suffering severe
          storms or drought
     • Farmer’s Guide to Disaster Assistance and other publications focused on family farms

Farmworkers’ Justice Fund
1010 Vermont Ave., NW. Suite 915,
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 783-2628
Fax (202) 783-2561

The Farmworkers’ Justice Fund, Inc. (“FJF”) works to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to
improve their wages and working conditions, labor and immigration policy, health and safety, and
access to justice.
    • For Immigrant Farmworkers/Guestworkers: “Basics About Guestworker Programs” and a
         policy brief on current agricultural immigration legislation
    • Work-place safety requirements and information

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Ste 540
Washington, D.C. 20009
Phone: 202-986-2200
Fax:    202-986-2525

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is a national organization working to improve public
policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. FRAC offers the following on
their Web site:
     • Information on and analysis of federal food assistance programs, including state-by-state
     • Information on how to become involved in the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, a
          FRAC initiative that engages local community organizations and assist them in finding and
          utilizing federal food assistance programs for children

     Migrant Legal Action Program (MLAP)
     1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Ste 915
     Washington, D.C. 20036
     Phone: 202-775-7780
     Fax:    202-775-7784
     The Migrant Legal Action Program (MLAP) works to enforce rights and to improve public policies
     affecting farmworkers’ working and housing conditions, education, health, nutrition, and general
         •    Explanation of issues confronting migrant agricultural workers, in Spanish and English
         •    State and local enforcement of immigration laws: including, but not limited to information
              regarding reduced cost meals for migrant children and how to apply for an immigrant
              driver’s license.

     National Center for Youth Law
     405 14th Street, 15th Floor
     Oakland, CA 94612-2701
     Phone: 510-835-8098
     Fax:    510-835-8099
     Founded in 1970, the National Center for Youth Law is a nonprofit organization that uses the law
     to improve the lives of poor children. NCYL works to ensure these children have the resources,
     support, and opportunities they need for a healthy and productive future. Online resources include
     the following:
         •    Library of articles discussing child/youth issues, such as mental health care, juvenile justice,
              child welfare, foster care, adoption, health, and public benefits.
         •    Youth Law News Journal, which explains and provides commentary on the latest
              developments regarding child and youth legal protections.

     (The Sargent Shriver) National Center on Poverty Law
     50 East Washington, Ste 500
     Chicago, IL 60602
     Phone: 312-263-3830
     Fax:     312-263-3846

     The National Center on Poverty Law serves as a resource to poverty law advocates across the
     nation. While it has a very large library of poverty law cases, accessing the library requires
     paying a subscription fee. Through their Practice Areas-- Attorneys/Legal Services, Civil Rights,
     Consumer, Disability, Education, Employment, Family Law, Food Programs, Health, Housing,
     Juveniles, Social Security/SSI, Welfare--visitors can find:
          • Recent case reviews and articles
          • Brief explanations of important federal laws (Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.) and
               relevant case law

National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)
77 Summer Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: 617-542-8010
Fax:     617-542-8028

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) is a national consumer law organization helping
consumers, their advocates, and public policy makers use consumer laws on behalf of low-income
and vulnerable Americans seeking economic justice. They focus on consumer protections, with a
special emphasis on vulnerable populations, such as the poor, disabled, and elderly. Resources
     • Explanations of a variety of consumer issues and NCLC’s initiatives surrounding them
     • Practical information on dealing with debt collectors, applying for loans, credit
         counseling, utilities, and more

National Economic Development & Law Center
2201 Broadway, Ste 815
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-251-2600
Fax:    510-251-0600

The National Economic Development and Law Center (NEDLC) is a 35-year old research and
consulting nonprofit organization that uses community and economic development strategies to
improve the economic and social status of low-income people. Resources include:
    • Links to local and statewide Car Ownership projects

National Employment Law Project (NELP)
55 John Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Phone: 212-285-3025
Fax:    212-285-3044

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) focuses on educating workers about their rights
under the law. They have initiatives focusing on immigrant workers, non-standard (temporary,
independent contractor, or part time) workers, the unemployed, low-wage workers, and family and
work. Public resources include:
    • Fact sheets and case studies of important cases influencing labor organization and
         individual worker’s rights
    • Explanations of workplace rights as related to the Family and Medical Leave Act
    • Advocacy campaign tool-kits and strategies for local organizing

     National Health Law Program (NHELP)
     2639 South La Cienega Blvd.
     Los Angeles, CA 90034
     Phone: 310-204-6010
     Fax:    310-204-0891

     The National Health Law Program is a national public interest law firm that seeks to improve
     health care for America’s working and unemployed poor, minorities, the elderly and people with
     disabilities. NHELP serves legal services programs, community-based organizations, the private
     bar, providers and individuals who work to preserve a health care safety net for the millions of
     uninsured or underinsured low-income people. Resources include:
          • Library of materials organized by category (children’s health, AIDS/HIV, managed care,
               disabilities, Medicare, prescription drugs, etc.)

     National Housing Law Project (NHLP)
     614 Grand Avenue, Ste 320
     Oakland, CA 94610
     Phone: 510-251-9400
     Fax:    510-451-2300

     The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) is a national housing law and advocacy center. The goal
     of NHLP is to advance housing justice for the poor by increasing and preserving the supply of
     decent affordable housing, by improving existing housing conditions, including physical conditions
     and management practices, by expanding and enforcing low-income tenants’ and homeowners’
     rights, and by increasing opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities. Online, visitors can find:
          • Detailed practical information about various housing programs, including Public Housing,
               HUD Rental Housing, Fair Housing, and Rural Housing Services

     National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
     3435 Wilshire Blvd., Ste 2850
     Los Angeles, CA 90010
     Phone: 213-639-3900
     Fax:     213-639-3911

     The National Immigration Law Center is a national support center whose mission is to protect and
     promote the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members. NILC
     staff specialize in immigration law, and the employment and public benefits rights of immigrants.
     Resources include:
          • Updates and articles on immigrants’ rights as related to immigration, public benefits,
              employment, as well as fact sheets on these issues
          • Information on immigrant driver’s licenses and current legislation surrounding the issue

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP)
1411 K Street NW, Ste 1400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-638-2535
Fax:    202-628-2737

The mission of the Law Center is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of
the nationwide movement to end homelessness. To achieve its mission, the Law Center pursues three
main strategies: impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. The center focuses on
four main issues: housing, income, education, and civil rights, with resources falling into one of those

National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA)
1140 Connecticut Avenue NW, Ste 900
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202-452-0620
Fax:    202-872-1031

NLADA is a national advocate for front-line attorneys and other equal justice professionals who
work to make a difference in the lives of low-income clients and their families and communities.
While the majority of their resources are geared towards lawyers, they have the following
resources available for the public
    • NLADA publications on various civil legal aid and criminal defense decisions
    • The Right to Counsel Kit, which discusses every defendant’s right to capable, credible

National Senior Citizens Law Center
1101 14th Street NW, Ste 400
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 202-289-6976
Fax:    202-209-7224

The National Senior Citizens Law Center advocates nationwide to promote the independence and
well-being of low-income elderly individuals and persons with disabilities. They focus on health
issues, including Medicaid and long-term care; retirement income/social security issues; and social
justice issues. Online, you can
      • Learn more about the issues affecting the elderly and disabled
      • Sign-up for news and updates about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security

     National Veterans Legal Services Program
     2001 S Street, NW, Ste 610
     Washington, D.C. 20009
     Phone: 202-265-8305
     Fax:    202-328-0063

     The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans
     service organization that has been assisting veterans and their advocates for more than 25
     years. NVLSP achieves its mission through education, advocacy, litigation, training advocates who
     represent veterans, and publications. Online, visitors can find
          • Self-help Guides for filing VA Claims, Agent Orange side-effects, and the Gulf War
          • Links to other Veteran’s organizations

     Native American Rights Fund
     1506 Broadway
     Boulder, CO 80302
     Phone: 303-447-8760
     Fax:     303-443-7776

     Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is the oldest and largest nonprofit law
     firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals
     nationwide. NARF’s practice is concentrated in five key areas: the preservation of tribal existence;
     the protection of tribal natural resources; the promotion of human rights; the accountability of
     governments; and the development of Indian law. Find the following online:
          • NARF Legal Review: published biannually and provides updates on NARF's cases and
              information on other timely Indian law topics
          • NARF Supreme Court Tribal Project, which reviews and monitors relevant cases before the
              Supreme Court

     Welfare Law Center
     275 Seventh Avenue, Ste 1205
     New York, NY 10001-6708
     Phone: 212-633-6967
     Fax:    212-633-6371

     Established in 1965, the Welfare Law Center has used impact litigation, related legal advocacy,
     and support for grassroots organizing in order to promote justice, fairness and opportunity. They
     work to advance the cause of economic justice for low-income families, individuals and communities
     across the country. On their site, visitors can find:
         • Resources on childcare and welfare; tips on selecting childcare providers; childcare fact
         • Resources on disabilities and welfare reform, including a manual on practical applications
              of the Disabilities Act
         • Articles and information addressing Food Stamp Access and Medicaid Access
         • Discrimination Resources

30 Needs Your Help

As librarians and community advocates, you are often the first place that many people turn when
they are in need of help. is designed specifically for people who are facing
legal problems or want to learn more about their rights and responsibilities. There are a number
of things you can do to promote to your clients and patrons that need this
     • Tell clients about when they have legal questions. If time permits, take
          a moment to walk them through their question, directing them to the appropriate topic.
          bucket. Also, explain that they can find legal help right in their own community by using
          the Search for Legal Assistance.
     • Make a home page on one of your public computers and put a link to
          it on your organization’s Web site.
     • Display promotional materials. Feel free to contact
          staff when you need more.


The success of depends on advocates like you: in order to improve and expand in the future, we need your feedback on how useful it is to you and your clients
and patrons. Throughout the grant period, we must keep track of how many people librarians and
community advocates send to, and what problems and/or solutions you noticed
upon doing so. In other words, in order to improve and justify its continuation in
the future, we need your help and participation in gathering these numbers for the next ten months.

We request that you keep a tally of how many people you send to and send
it to us weekly or bi-weekly, at your convenience. Also, if you would like to do this online, we have
set up a Referral Reporting survey at which you can take and
submit to us directly. We realize that your time is valuable so we have streamlined this process to
be simple, quick and easy. Most importantly, we thank you for your help in insuring the future of


We have both brochures and posters available for you to distribute to your clients and patrons.
Please feel free to email us if you would like more promotional materials once you run out. We
will try to fulfill these requests as our budget allows. We will also have posters and brochures
available on our Web site for you to print out yourself at

Newsletter and Updates:

Our monthly newsletter will keep you informed of significant changes to
and highlight certain features on the site. It is also a forum for librarians and other community
advocates to tell their stories of how and other online resources have helped
their clients find the legal assistance they needed.

Contact Us: staff is here for you. Please feel free to contact us with questions, requests for
materials, etc. at any time. We are available at or 512.320.0099,
ext. 101 or 107.

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