Employees of the United States Bankruptcy Court are not permitted to recommend or refer you to a lawyer nor are they permitted to provide legal advice, including how to complete the bankruptcy forms or which forms may be required in your bankruptcy case. Debtors are encouraged to obtain the services of a competent lawyer [Spanish]. However, an individual debtor who is unable to afford an attorney may qualify for pro bono (free) or reduced fee legal representation.
Free Bankruptcy Clinics
Clinics for self-represented debtors are conducted regularly. See the Court's website for the date and location of a clinic near you.
Free or Low Cost Services
There are various legal aid services and local bar associations in Florida that may provide free or low cost legal help to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. While many legal aid offices only help people with very low income (poverty guidelines), some offices have more flexible income rules.
|Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida||The Florida Bar has a volunteer (pro bono) lawyer project that may offer free legal services. If you believe you may qualify for pro bono (free) or low bono (reduced fee) assistance from a lawyer, please complete the Pro Bono Referral Bankruptcy Intake Form and send it to the contact person listed for your county.|
|Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach, Inc.||The service has a volunteer (pro bono) lawyer project that may offer free legal services. If you believe you may qualify (poverty guidelines) for assistance from a lawyer you can call toll free at 1-800-403-9353 or 561-655-8944 to make an appointment.|
|Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc.||This non-profit law firm is dedicated to providing quality legal advice, representation and education for low income individuals and communities in various northern counties. You can also call or find a location near you to make an appointment.|
|Florida Law Help||The Bankruptcy Bar Pro Bono Resource provides various resources as it relates to bankruptcy and links to various legal assistance (including for members of the military, veterans and their families).|
|Free Legal Answers||A program of the American Bar Association allowing volunteer lawyers to answer simple legal questions in discrete civil legal areas. They also provide links to other resources.|
|Legal Aid Society of Dade County Bar Association||Services to eligible clients are provided through the Put Something Back volunteer attorney project. You can also call at (305) 579-5733. Clients must bring proof of income, current photo I.D. and other documentation.|
|Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.||The service will refer you to a lawyer who will not charge a fee to eligible clients or at a reduced fee for the meeting. You can also contact them or access their self-help section. A lawyer will assist you for 30 minutes about your legal issue.|
|Dade County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service||The service will refer you to a lawyer who is experienced in your legal issue. You can also call at (305) 371-2646. A lawyer will assist you for up to 30 minutes about your legal issue. You are only charged a reduced fee for the meeting.|
|Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Services||If there is no lawyer referral service in your city, the statewide referral service can locate a lawyer for you. You can also call toll free at (800) 342-8011. A lawyer will assist you for up to 30 minutes about your legal issue. You are only charged a reduced fee for the meeting.|
|Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc.||This organization various legal services and representation for Broward County residents. You can also call at (954) 765-8950. They also provide links to various self-help resources.|
|Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, Inc.||This organization various legal services and representation for Broward County residents and for elder residents through the Senior Citizen Law Project. You can also call at (954) 736-2400. They also provide links to various self-help resources.|
Friends or Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
The court often encounters debtors who cannot afford to pay a lawyer to help them prepare bankruptcy forms. Sometimes a debtor pays a "friend" to help file for bankruptcy and guide them through the process. Unfortunately, they may not be properly informed in the bankruptcy process resulting in your case being dismissed. Also beware of petition preparers who do not comply with all legal requirements. The role of nonattorney petition preparers is solely to type information on bankruptcy forms. Petition preparers are barred by law from providing legal advice. They cannot explain or answer legal questions or assist in bankruptcy court. Petition preparers must sign all documents they prepare; print their name, address, and social security number on such documents; and furnish copies to the debtor. They cannot sign a document on the debtor’s behalf or receive payment from the debtor for court fees.
Bankruptcy Petition preparers are required to provide you with the Official Bankruptcy Form 119, “Bankruptcy Petition Preparer’s Notice, Declaration and Signature”.