Friday, December 31, 2010

44 Places Where Writers (and Other Creative People) Can Obtain Free or Low-Cost Legal Help

Lawyers for the Creative Arts ("LCA") in Chicago maintains this list of 36 other organizations  throughout the United States (and one in Canada) that provide legal information to writers and artists and, in some instances, free or low-cost legal representation to individuals and organizations that meet their qualifying criteria.  I know the good work that Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York has done (it's on LCA's list) and have worked with them from time to time.  I am not by any means familiar with all of the organizations on the LCA list, but they are likely worth exploring.

Harvard University's Berkman Center has launched an Online Media Legal Network, described as "a network of law firms, law school clinics, and individual lawyers across the United States who are interested in assisting online journalism ventures and other digital media creators address their legal needs."  Some may provide free or reduced fee assistance.

Membership organizations such as The American Society of Journalists and AuthorsThe Author's Guild, and the National Writers Union offer some useful legal information to website visitors and many more benefits, including various legal services, to those who become members.  There are some eligibility requirements for membership.

A more specialized resource is the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press aimed, as the name would suggest, at journalists.  The RCFP maintains a legal defense hotline for professional reporters and media lawyers dealing with legal emergencies at 800-336-4243.  (Their services are not directed toward literary writers.)

Two other organizations that do much good work for writers are Poets & Writers, Inc. and PEN American Center, albeit I frankly do not know whether they provide referrals for volunteer legal services.

If you know of other organizations that belong on this list, please post a comment to let me know.


  1. What about defamations by a reviewer, whom would be the right person to speak to?

  2. Where would a group of authors with no money left because they never received royalties from their "Vanity" publishing company who seems to have used them for their own purposes, along with numerous breaches of contract, need to turn?

  3. Good to see some one collate information and publish like this.
    Lawyer phone number

  4. Mark, can I mention the name of a police operation/bust in a memoir along with memories of events?

  5. HI Mark, I have a dog called CocoPops and I am planning on writing a children's book called 'A Crazy Pup called CocoPops' - do you see any issues with this - should I trademark my name?