serious injuries
serious Attorneys
Zarzaur Law P.A.

How Do Low Income Residents Afford Lawyers for Non-Criminal Offenses?

Our Pensacola News Journal recently featured an Associated Press article addressing Florida’s consideration of a new law which would permit legal aid to persons in certain types of civil cases. 

Many people (including myself at one point) assumed that if you could not afford a lawyer and your rights were at stake then “one would be provided for you.”  Well, that’s accurate but only in criminal cases. 

So, if your child is at risk of being taken from you, you have been involuntarily committed for substance abuse or perhaps your home is being taken from you via a foreclosure action, you are pretty much on your own.  In fact, the article notes that about 80% of low-income people who are in civil legal trouble do not have representation. 

Thankfully, there are organizations like the Northwest Florida Legal Services (now known as Emerald Coast Legal Aid) who are in the business of providing legal services in civil (non-criminal cases) to those that can not afford an lawyer for such critical issues like child custody and foreclosure.  Many times this civil legal issues disproportionally affect women and children who are much more likely to not have sufficient funds to pay for a lawyer of their own.  However, these fantastic organizations like Emerald Coast Legal Aid are funded as non-profits and rely on donations and grants from government programs at both the state and federal levels.

It appears that finally the legislature in our state is considering some funding for these legal aid organizations to assist in compensating lawyers of indigent clients who are facing such critical issues as child custody and foreclosure.


“Yesterday, we had the pleasure of accepting a check from the gang at Zarzaur Law, P.A., from their Legal Graffiti donations during Downtown Pensacola Gallery Night. Thank you Pensacola. Your donation helps us continue our work providing high quality civil legal services to low-income residents, abused spouses or children and the elderly, residing in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Florida.”

In 2011 Zarzaur Law, P.A. of Pensacola, FL adopted Emerald Coast Legal Aid (then Northwest Florida Legal Services) as the permanent benefactor of the firm’s “Legal Graffiti” and have since raised and donated several thousand dollars to that worthy organization and its wonderful staff.  Since this new initiative is running the halls in Tallahassee we urge everyone in Florida to reach out and show your support for this new law. 

I would also be neglectful if I also did not mention the huge contribution that local and state bar associations do through their pro-bono programs that assist with this dilemma.  However, as you can see from the 80% figure of unrepresented litigants, we have a long way to go and these new laws should help.