Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham helps low-income people get assistance with civil, family, and domestic legal problems. Our case priorities are focused on four areas: Safe Housing, Safe Finances, Safe Families, and Serving Veterans.
Please ensure you meet all eligibility requirements before visiting one of our legal Help Desks listed here. All cases will be reviewed by executive staff prior to being accepted by VLB.
Does my income qualify?
Our services are for low-income families with limited assets — approximately $15,000 annual income for an individual or $31,000 for a household of four. Click here for income eligibility guidelines based on the federal poverty guidelines.
To receive free legal services, please bring at least one of the following as proof of income:
- Pay stub
- Disability, unemployment, Social Security, or other benefits letter
- Copy of employer-provided tax document (W-2 or 1099)
Can you help with my legal issue?
- Eviction Defense: We help clients challenge unlawful evictions in private housing and eviction/ejectment cases. The eviction process moves fast. If you have received a Notice to Cure or an Unlawful Detainer from your landlord, you should come to a Civil Help Desk as soon as possible. We can provide the best help if you act quickly. Clients needing help with evictions from Public Housing and Subsidized Housing can contact Legal Services Alabama at 1-866-456-4995. WE DO NOT HELP PARTIES WANTING TO EVICT TENANTS. Landlords can contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006 for more information or to get a referral.
- Unsafe Housing: We help tenants whose apartments and other rental homes are uninhabitable or unsafe due to conditions left unaddressed by landlords such as excessive mold, electrical problems, pests, water leaks, and other issues.
- Foreclosure: We help clients facing foreclosure.
- Clients Experiencing Homelessness: We help clients resolve a variety of legal issues, including municipal fines/fees and warrants. If your case is in the City of Birmingham, you may be eligible for a special court for homeless clients. Some examples of cases that usually qualify for the “Turning Point” court are traffic tickets, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication. These are only examples; other cases might qualify as well. No domestic violence, gun charges, and drug paraphernalia charges.
- Domestic Violence: We help victims of domestic abuse needing a divorce, child custody, or with other legal issues. At the Domestic Relations Help Desk, you will have access to a YWCA counselor who can provide other domestic violence services. If you in a dangerous domestic abuse situation, you can contact the YWCA of Central Alabama at ywcabham.org or call their emergency help line at (205) 322-4878 or 1-800-650-6522.
- Uncontested Divorces: We help clients obtain a divorce if they agree on all issues, including child custody, visitation, and division of assets and debt. Both parties must come to the Domestic Relations Help Desk with proof of income eligibility.
- Adoptions: We help with adoptions if the child has been living in the household of the prospective adoptive parent(s) for at least one year. Both the birth mother and legal father must undergo our intake process in person and sign documentation showing their consent to the adoption. Any potential adoptive parents must verify that they have never been cited for abuse by the Department of Human Resources. For potential relative adoptions (example: grandparent adoptions but not step-parent adoptions) the birth/legal parent cannot be part of the adoptive parents’ household.
- Child Support Enforcement: The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) will assist unmarried parties with establishment of paternity and child support obligations and enforce collection of previously ordered child support payments, including divorce court orders and cases where one of the parties resides outside of Alabama. We help custodial parents calculate child support and enforce child support obligations. Click here for contact information for DHR.
- Other Domestic Relations Issues: We help clients file a complaint for divorce, answer a divorce complaint, or assist with filing missing documents. We also provide counsel and advice on custody and visitation issues. We do not assist with child support arrearage cases or child support interest rebates.
- No Cases Involving Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or Alimony: Please contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006 for more information or to get a referral to a private attorney who you can pay to help you.
- Debt Cases and Garnishments: We help clients challenge unlawful debt collections and help file exemptions for low-income clients whose income is protected from wage garnishments. We focus on predatory lending problems, defective car debt, unlawful repossession, and debt repayment.
- Bankruptcies: We help clients file Chapter 7 bankruptcies when no better options exist, especially in cases involving overwhelming medical debt and the threat of foreclosure. If you want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006 for more information or to get a referral.
- Wills and End-of-Life Planning: We help clients create wills, living wills, and powers of attorney*. If your case involves a contested will, please contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006. We cannot assist clients with opening and closing estates.
- Collecting Judgments: We help clients who are owed money through a judgment, but have been unable to collect. These judgments can be against landlords or employers who have assets but no intention of paying as ordered. We help clients get the money to which they are entitled.
- General Civil Issues: We help clients with filing small claims and other civil lawsuits in District and Circuit Court.
- Patents: We help low-income inventors achieve financial stability by protecting their inventions through filing patent applications with the United States Patent Office. Click here to see all requirements and to get an application.
*According to the COVID protocols we have maintained for the safety of our clients and lawyers throughout the pandemic, the creation of wills, living wills, and powers of attorney are temporarily suspended.
What legal issues do not qualify?
No criminal cases
If you are dealing with a criminal matter, you can contact the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office at jeffcodefender.org.
No fee-generating cases
If you have a case where an attorney would be paid at the conclusion, such as personal injury lawsuits, worker’s compensation claims, establishing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, you can contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006 for more information or to get a referral.
We do not accept appeals. You can contact the Birmingham Bar Association Lawyer Referral at (205) 251-8006 for more information or to get a referral to an attorney who can take your appeal for a fee.
Limited help outside Jefferson County
VLB concentrates our services to specific legal issues that can be resolved in the federal and state courts in Jefferson County. There are other organizations that provide civil legal help throughout Alabama. To find legal help near you, go to the Alabama Access to Justice website at alabamaatj.org.
Where do I go?
You can find our list of Help Desks here.