Free Legal Advice: Where to Find a Free Lawyer in the Philippines

Last Updated Apr 30, 2021 @ 3:08 am

Knowing your rights and being able to fight for them is key, particularly in a world where a significant number of people and parties are alway slooking to get a leg up on everyone else.

While it may seem daunting (and expensive) to get legal advice, fortunately you have a number of options to try and get legal assistance for free. 

This article provides a rundown of those options. 

17 Free Legal Advice Organizations in the Philippines

1. Public Attorney’s Office

Website: http://www.pao.gov.ph/
Email: pao_executive@yahoo.com
Contact number(s):

  • (02) 892909436
  • (02) 84262075
  • (02) 84262801
  • (02) 84262450
  • (02) 84262987
  • (02) 84262683

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is an agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that provides free legal assistance to indigent litigants (essentially, poor people involved in lawsuits).

The PAO also provides indigent sectors access to legal counsel, and implements the constitutional guarantee of free access to courts, due process and able protection of the laws. 

So basically, if you were to be involved in criminal, civil, labor, administrative, and other quasi-judicial cases, the PAO may be called upon by proper government authorities to render legal representation, assistance, and counselling. 

However, there are a couple of tests you’ll need to pass to be qualified for legal assistance. 

The Merit Test

To make it simpler to understand, a case is deemed unmeritorius (without merit) if it appears that it has no chance of success, or is intended merely to harass, injure or wrong the opposite party. 

As such, because the accused enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty, if you’re involved in a criminal case, the cases are considered meritorious. 

The Indigency Test

There are a few main considerations for one to be considered “indigent” These include:

  • For residents of Metro Manila, net income does not exceed P14,000 a month. 
  • For residents of other cities, net income does not exceed P13,000
  • For residents of other places, net income does not exceed P12,000

Applicants for free legal assistance shall be required to execute an Affidavit of Indigency and submit any of the following:

  • Latest Income Tax Return, or pay slip, or other proofs of income. 
  • Certificate of Indigency from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (its local District Office or Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office)
  • Certificate of Indigency from the Barangay Chairman

Should you pass the two tests, there are a list of cases, which may be provisioanlly accepted by the PAO. You can find them here

These include instances such as:

  • When a warrant of arrest has been issued and assistance is needed to, for example, post bail bond.
  • When a person is arrested and/or detained and immediate legal action is necessary.
  • When a pleading has to be filed immediately.

2. IDEALS Inc.

Website: https://ideals.org.ph/
Contact number(s):

  • 0953 382 6935 (for Globe and TM subscribers)
  • 0951 077 4412 (for Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers)

The Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) is a non-stock, non-profit legal-focused institution designed to address the legal and technical needs of the marginalized, disempowered, and vulnerable groups.

The group has heightened focus on sectors like agrarian reform beneficiaries, farmer-traders, migrants, persons and communities affected by disasters, and victims of human rights violations. 

If you feel like you belong in these (or similar) sectors, or that your circumstance fits within these parameters, you may contact IDEALS through any of their contact information that you can find here.


Law School Programs

Alternatively, you can also approach the legal assistance programs of some of the top law school programs in the country.

3. Ateneo Legal Services Center

Website: http://www.ateneo.edu/aps/law/ateneo-law-center/ateneo-legal-services-center
Email: alsc.law@ ateneo.edu
Contact number(s):

  • +63 (02) 899-7691 to 96
  • +63 (02) 7729-2000 ext. 2304, 2306 to 2308

Similar to the PAO, the Ateneo Legal Services Center (ALSC) has criteria for accepting cases. While the Indigency Test is basically the same, they also consider:

  • Nature of the case – The ALSC will only accept cases that are consistent with a client’s claim of indigency. This means that cases involving matters like such as BP 22, sum of money, forfeiture, annulments, among others, will most likely not be accepted.  
  • Venue of action – As a general rule, the ALSC will only accept cases filed or pending in Makati or Mandaluyong. Although, there are exceptional instances when they accept cases outside of those two cities. 
  • Instructional value – As you might surmise, the ALSC accepts cases that have high potential for learning and academic discussion. 
  • Merits of the case – The ALSC provides assistance to cases that will be in aid of or in the furtherance of justice – as opposed to cases that are likely to lose or are intended to harass or injure the opposing party. 
  • Ethical consideration – Cases accepted should be in line with the vision of the Ateneo, which means that no case should compromise the established integrity of the Ateneo Law School. 
  • Caseload – Availability of volunteer lawyers

Below are the required documents:

  • Affidavit of Indigency
    • For residents of Metro Manila, net income does not exceed P14,000 a month. 
    • For residents of other cities, net income does not exceed P13,000
    • For residents of other places, net income does not exceed P12,000.
  • Proof of Income: Latest Income Tax Return (ITR) or pay slip.
  • Certificate of Indigency – from DSWD (and/or any of its local municipal/district offices) 

You can find their contact information here.


4. UP Office of Legal Aid

Website: https://law.upd.edu.ph/office-of-legal-aid/
Contact number(s): Phone: (+632) 8 920 5514 loc. 106

The University of the Philippines’ Office of Legal Aid provides free legal assistance to indigent litigants and takes on public interest cases.

Under the program, senior year law students are required to put in 126 hours of practicum handling cases. 


6. San Beda Legal Aid Bureau

Website: https://www.facebook.com/SBCLegalAidBureau/
Email: sbc.legalaid@gmail.com
Contact number(s): (02) 735-6011 local 6120

The San Beda Lega Aid Bureau is the clinical legal education program of San Beda University College of Law.

Similar to the two organizations above, they provide legal assistance to indigent clients under the Student Practice Rule. The program utilizes select fourth year law student-interns to assist those who are less privileged. 

You can find more information and contact them via their Facebook page here


7. University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law – CJ Roberto Concepcion Legal Aid

Website: http://www.ustcivillaw.com/cj-roberto-concepcion-legal-aid
Contact Number(s):

  • (02) 8731-4027
  • (02) 3406-1611 loc. 8225

The CJRC-LAC is an outreach program extending free legal assistance to indigents and those in the marginalized sector.

As is the case with all of the institutions on this list, it’s part of their endeavor to provide legal work experience to their graduating students. 


8. San Sebastian Office of Legal Aid (SOLA)

Website: https://sscrmnl.edu.ph/administration/law-center/
Contact Number(s): 734-8931 local 313

Likewise, SOLA was created as an outreach venue for legal services provided to indigents and other deserving parties who cannot afford the services of a lawyer.

As of this writing, they employ 55 law interns. 


9. Xavier University Center for Legal Assistance (XUCLA)

Website: https://www.xu.edu.ph/xavier-university-center-for-legal-assistance
Email: xucla@xu.edu.ph
Contact Number(s): (088) 853-9800 Local 9176 / 9177 / 9180 / 9181

XUCLA is based at Xavier University – College of Law in Mindanao.

Like most of the organizations on this list, their intent on serving the poor and marginalized sectors that include women, children, laborers, farmers, peasants, indigineous peoples and communities, and fisher folk, among others. 


Free Online Legal Consultation & Advice

If for whatever reason, you don’t meet the qualifications of the above institutions or if you simply need quick insights or advice on legal matters, you could also check out the following for online assistance. 

10. Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)

Web: https://www.facebook.com/FLAGMetroManila/
Email: flag.metromanila@gmail.com

FLAG boasts of being the oldest human rights lawyers network in the country. It was formed in 1974 by former Senators Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo M. Tañada, and Joker P. Arroyo.

To this day, it continues to advocate for the promotion and defense of human rights both here and abroad. 


11. Tisya Hustisya

Web: https://www.facebook.com/tisyahustisya/
Email: thustisya.ideals@gmail.com
Contact Number(s):

  • 0953 382 6935 (for Globe and TM subscribers)
  • 0951 077 4412 (for Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers)

Tisya Hustisya is perhaps the most convenient way to get legal advice. By simply using your phone and finding them on Facebook (you can also call or text their hotline), you get instant insights on whatever legal matter you need assistance with – be it a labor dispute, election registration, or child custody. 


12. Legal Aid Society of the Philippines

Web: https://www.facebook.com/legalaidsocph/

Similarly, Legal Aid Society of the Philippines is accessible via Facebook, promising to provide legal assistance to qualified accused/defendants in pending criminal cases. 


13. Digest PH

Website: https://www.digest.ph/ 

DigestPH has a Find me a lawyer feature on their website, which allows you to match your specific concern with the right lawyer.

Basically, you just need to describe your concern and your story.

You’ll be provided with free legal consultation, and should you wish to proceed, be given options to hire or get proposals from lawyers. 

You can even track the progress of your lawyer from your dashboard, ensuring that your concerns are addressed in a timely manner. And if you’re not pleased with the services, you can even cancel at any time.  


14. Path Legal

Website: https://ph.pathlegal.com/ 

Path Legal is another online portal for legal advice. While lacking in web design aesthetics, the service is pretty straightforward.

Basically, you just ask your question (make sure your clear in describing your concern). Their pool of lawyers will answer your queries, and you get a chat feature available as a lawyer answers your questions. 


Government & Non-Profit Organizations

15. Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 

Website: https://www.dole.gov.ph/news/poea-intensifies-online-legal-assistance/legalassistance.poea.gov.ph 
Email: legalassistance.poea@gmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/airbranch 

DOLE, through its administrative arm the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), has an online legal assistance program focused on its anti-illegal recruitment campaign.

Due to the pandemic, the department shifted its services online to continuously provide services related to contract violations, non-payment of wages and benefits, and other forms of abuse. 

Additionally, DOLE has its Assist WELL program that provides assistance and other services to repatriated workers.

The legal assistance covers matters such as legal advice, conciliation proceedings, assistance in preparation and filing of complaints, and conseling during preliminary investigations and hearings of criminal cases for illegal recruitment. 


16. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

Website: https://www.dswd.gov.ph/ 
Email: foncr@dswd.gov.ph 
Contact number(s): +632 873300010

The DSWD and the PAO have had an existing agreement to provide free legal assistance to the former’s clients.

Under the agreement, the PAO shall provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, children in conflict with the law, and those involved in adoption cases. 


17. Saligan (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal)

Website: https://saligan.org/ 
Email: aligan@saligan.org
Contact number(s):

  • Manila: +63 2 84266001 ext 4859-4860
  • Bicol: +63 9568758660
  • Mindanao: +63 82 2984161

Saligan is a legal resource non-government organization offering developmental legal work for marginalized, disadvantaged, and exploited sectors in the Philippines since 1987.

These groups include workers, children, and even handles gender-related issues.   

Saligan operates across the country, maintaining offices in Metro Manila, the Bicol region, and Mindanao.


About TJ Ibay

TJ is the lead editor of Grit PH.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. says

    Many countries have lawyers willing to help under-privileged populations for no cost at all, such as this lawyer from South Africa who not only operates pro bono but also offers a sliding-scale fee system for those less well off.

  2. Rosela Langbid Dagatan says

    Thanks for this information. Nakakatulong na katulad sa akin na wlang kakayahan na maklgbayad ng attorney fee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *