General Legal Questions and Legal Self-Help
Where can I get general information about the law?
The State Bar of California publishes numerous pamphlets for the public. They also publish online guides as "pdfs" which can be viewed with any internet browser or downloaded to your computer for later reading, including A Guide to Legal Literacy- an overview of the entire legal system.
Can I get legal help without hiring an attorney?
Family Law Pro Per Clinic
The Family Law Court, a branch of the Superior Court, holds a Family Law Pro Per Clinicat the Family Law Courthouse at 540 E. Main Street in Stockton. They can help you represent yourself in a family law matter. You can visit them during regular business hours.
Family Law Service Center
If you have a Family Law matter, you can contact the Family Law Service Center for reduced rate family law services. You can reach them at (209) 948-1171.
Family Law Clinic
Laurence Drivon School of Law at Humphreys College at 6650 Inglewood, in Stockton, California offers a Family Law Clinic on the third Thursday evening of each month. Call the school for more information: (209) 478-0800. You must register starting at 6:30 p.m. on that night, first come, first served. Bring all your information and documents with you.
Small Claims Clinic
Laurence Drivon School of Law at Humphreys College at 6650 Inglewood, in Stockton, California offers a Small Claims Clinic on the first Thursday evening of each month. Call the school for more information: (209) 478-0800. You must register starting at 6:30 p.m. on that night, first come, first served. Bring all your information and documents with you.
Where do I find a free ("pro-bono") attorney?
While not affiliated with the San Joaquin County Bar Association or the Lawyer Referral Service, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.(CRLA) serves as a legal aid society for the county. You can reach them at (209) 946-0605. CRLA does not handle any family law cases (divorce, child custody or visitation, or related).
Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
Do I need any special MCLE to participate in the LRS panels?
Each of our Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) panels and our Court Assigned Counsel panels require certain amounts of experience to qualify. Because of court requirements, certain panels, such as the Special Circumstance and Delinquency Panels, also require specialized MCLE training for admittance to the panel. See the panel applications for the specific requirements for the panels in which you are interested.
Do you offer criminal MCLE?
We maintain a small library of criminal MCLE programs that can be borrowed for free from our CAC staff. We charge $15 per hour for MCLE credit, should you need the credit hours.
Do you offer juvenile delinquency MCLE?
While the local court does require juvenile delinquency MCLE, we do not yet offer it.
Do you offer MCLE for substance abuse?
We usually offer MCLE for the substance abuse MCLE requirement during our January Master Series. Additionally, often one of our special interest sections will offer a Substance Abuse MCLE during the year. Watch the Across the Barand/or the SJCBA In Briefe-mail newsletter for announcements.
Do you offer MCLE for ethics?
We usually offer MCLE for the ethics MCLE requirement during our January Master Series, either as part of another program or as a stand-alone program. Additionally, often one of our special interest sections will offer an ethics MCLE during the year. Watch the Across the Barand/or the SJCBA In Briefe-mail newsletter for announcements.
Do you offer MCLE for bias?
We usually offer MCLE for the bias MCLE requirement during our January Master Series. Additionally, often one of our special interest sections will offer a bias MCLE during the year. Watch the Across the Barand/or the SJCBA In Briefe-mail newsletter for announcements.
I'm running out of time - how can I get quick MCLE credits?
For quick non-participatory MCLE credit, we maintain prior MCLE Self-study programs that were published in the Across the Bar. You can find the links on the MCLE page here on our website. You can also borrow cd-roms or other recorded criminal MCLE and get credit for $15 per hour from Linda Mussat: (209) 948-0125.
Lawyer Referral Service
Why do I have to pay you (LRS)?
LRS is a service of the San Joaquin County Bar Association. As such, we screen the public so that a bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t get a referral for an adoption; likewise, we screen the attorneys so that you don’t get a foreclosure attorney for your child support issue. The $30 we charge for this covers some of the costs of keeping the office open and operating. Attorneys donate the one-half hour consultation to LRS, so that they can get the clients they want to serve. Otherwise, you would be paying the attorney twice the $30 or more to see the attorney. Everyone wins, no?
Are the LRS people who answer the phone attorneys?
No. None of our LRS staff are attorneys. They are trained to understand the basics of what kind of lawyer you need, but not more. They are here to refer you to the right attorney for your legal issue.
Can we pick the gender, race or religion of the attorney to whom we're referred?
Sorry, no. We cannot screen attorneys for any religious, gender or race requirements.
Can you give me a list of attorneys?
Sorry, no. If you need a list of attorneys, telephone books list most attorneys who are in private practice. If you’re looking for a government attorney, you can contact government agencies directly.
Can I get a lawyer for any kind of case?
For most types of cases arising in San Joaquin County, LRS has an attorney to help. If you have an esoteric problem – a deposition in a case in Montreal or you want to go public on Wall Street – it’s unlikely that we can help. In those situations we might refer you to a referral service in those locations.
Can I get a free attorney? (or "pro bono")LRS is not a free legal service. We charge a $30 fee that pays for our operation and in return you get one-half hour with an experienced attorney who practices the kind of law you need. If you hire the attorney, then you and the attorney will discuss the fees he or she will charge in addition to the $30 referral fee. You can also check out legal self-help.
Can I get an attorney with no up-front fee?
Yes. LRS provides attorneys for personal injury, including car accidents, employment discrimination, wrongful termination, Social Security Disability, and Workers' Compensation without an up-front fee.
Can I get an attorney on a contingent fee?
LRS refers clients to attorneys that charge contingency fees in specific types of cases, usually accidents and or malpractice.
What if I don't speak English?
If you don’t speak English, please have a family member or someone who does speak English call us for your referral, and have them go to your appointment with the attorney, as well.
I called your office and no one spoke my language. How can I find an attorney?
Have a family member or friend call us for a referral. Make sure they go to your appointment as well to translate for the attorney.
Why don't you have any foreign language speaking attorneys?
Legal terminology is specialized, so many attorneys who speak another language cannot discuss legal issues in that language.
Can you fill out my legal forms?
Sorry, no. LRS is a referral service and our staff are neither trained nor permitted to prepare documents for you. Most attorneys will do this for a fee, and we can probably refer you to an attorney that will do that. Our normal $30 fee will be charged. We cannot refer anyone to non-attorneys.
Can you refer me to a paralegal?
Sorry, no. We can only refer clients to licensed, experienced attorneys who practice law in the field that you need.
Can you refer me to a law firm?
Sorry, no. Attorneys have to apply, meet the qualifications, be insured, and be screened by a peer review panel to join LRS. Law Firms may have many attorneys, paralegals, notaries, secretaries and other employees that cannot receive referrals.
Can you refer me to an attorney out of the county?
Sorry, no. We are licensed by the State Bar of California as a referral service for San Joaquin County. However, we can refer you to a referral service in another county if you need an attorney elsewhere.
Can you refer me to an attorney out of the state?
Sorry, no. We are licensed by the State Bar of California as a referral service for San Joaquin County. However, we can refer you to a referral service in another state if you need an attorney elsewhere.