Civil Legal Services in New Mexico
The civil legal services system in New Mexico is an informal network of non-profit organizations, agencies, law-firms, and individuals who seek to ensure that low-income New Mexicans have access to justice. Civil legal services are legal and law-related services designed to help low-income individuals, families, and communities solve civil (non-criminal) legal problems that they experience. The civil legal services system helps low-income people defend and assert important legal rights that often involve the most fundamental aspects of life–personal and family safety, homeownership and shelter protection, healthcare, and economic security.
Where can I get help?
- Law Access New Mexico serves as the gateway to the non-profit civil legal services providers. If you are looking for free legal services, the first step is to place a call to Law Access New Mexico. Law Access employees will listen to your situation, determine whether you are eligible for help and, if appropriate, refer you to a source of legal services. They may be able to help you directly themselves as well, because they also serve as a statewide telephone helpline to provide free legal advice and brief services for low-income New Mexicans across the state. 1-800-340-9771
- New Mexico Legal Aid helps low-income New Mexicans and their families maintain fundamental legal rights, protecting their livelihoods while ensuring health, safety, and security. Their legal services are intended to help clients at and below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines and victims of domestic violence, regardless of income. Services are available regardless of language, age, gender, education, and physical/mental limitations.
Specialty Civil Legal Services
- Advocacy, Inc. provides assistance in uncontested legal guardianship services to low-income caregivers raising children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. It offers four programs designed to fill the legal needs of children in Bernalillo County: a) guardianship legal services; b) adoption legal services; c) Guardian ad Litem services; and d) information, referral, and training. 1-866-257-5320
- Catholic Charities provides free legal immigration services and representation to eligible immigrants to help them apply for legal status for themselves and their children under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The project provides intake and assessment of the domestic violence and the overall situation, then prepares all the necessary documents to take the case to the Immigration and Naturalization Services or the Executive Office for Immigration Review. 505-247-0442
- Disability Rights New Mexico provides legal assistance to people with disabilities and mental illness. It provides both direct services to individuals and systemic services that impact groups of New Mexicans with disabilities. The DNA Protection and Advocacy program serves people with disabilities on the Navajo reservation. 1-800-432-4682
- DNA People’s Legal Services works to protect civil rights, promote tribal sovereignty, and provide general legal services to low-income people, primarily in San Juan County and on the Navajo and Jicarilla reservations. DNA has four offices in New Mexico. DNA Protection and Advocacy System serves people with disabilities on the Navajo reservation: 1-800-862-7271
- NM Immigrant Law Center provides legal advice, representation, and advocacy to immigrants and aspiring citizens living in New Mexico. 505 247-1023
- Pegasus Legal Services for Children provides comprehensive legal services to children, youth, and their caregivers, including direct representation, community legal education, and policy advocacy. The issues that they help with include children’s right to appropriate public education (including education needs of children with disabilities and children in foster care), kinship guardianship, family law for young parents, access to physical and mental health care, transition from foster care to young adulthood, and child abuse and neglect. 1-800-980-1165
- United South Broadway Corporation works to address affordable housing opportunities, commercial revitalization, crime prevention, and youth development. The organization is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency with experienced bilingual staff and has a statewide foreclosure defense project. Their Fair Lending Center provides in-house legal services and direct legal representation for homeowners at risk of losing their homes. 505-764-8867
- Senior Citizens’ Law Office provides free civil legal services to Bernalillo County residents more than 60 years of age, especially concerning the following issues: income maintenance, guardianship/conservatorship, power of attorney and other advance directives, issues of financial exploitation, landlord-tenant and public housing problems, consumer issues, health-related issues, and long-term care issues. Most of the clients served are low-income individuals. The Senior Citizens’ Law Office also provides systemic advocacy on a wide variety of elder law issues. 505-265-2300
- Southwest Women’s Law Center provides legal advocacy to address gender-related poverty issues and to improve opportunities for low-income women. In general, SWLC does not provide individual representation. 800-244-0542
- State Bar of New Mexico Lawyer Referral for the Elderly is a free, statewide helpline for New Mexico residents age 55 and older. Attorneys provide legal assistance and referrals to seniors around New Mexico, particularly outside of Bernalillo County. 800-876-6657
- State Bar General Referral Program is the general referral and assistance program of the State Bar of New Mexico. For low-income people, referrals may be pro bono or reduced fee. The program accepts some of the overflow cases that New Mexico Legal Aid is unable to take.
- State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of New Mexico sponsors two Homeless Legal Clinics. Volunteers provide pro bono legal services and pro bono referrals to homeless persons at the Health Care for the Homeless location in downtown Albuquerque and at the Mesilla Valley of Hope in Doña Ana County. Many services are brief services. Others require more extensive work and are referred to volunteers who have agreed to accept referrals from the Clinic.
- UNM Law School Clinical Law Program provides services to faculty, students, and income eligible clients under the supervision of faculty members. Students represent low-income clients in a range of legal matters, including: landlord-tenant, consumer, family law, zoning, environmental, and wills. Additionally, the program operates a Southwest Indian Law Clinic serving American Indian communities and individuals.
- Keep Your Home New Mexico Program is a cooperative effort of several non-profit New Mexico organizations including United South Broadway Corporation, New Mexico Legal Aid, Senior Citizens’ Law Office, DNA Peoples’ Legal Services, Independent Living Resource Center and others. The program provides direct foreclosure prevention services to New Mexico homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage or facing foreclosure. This website is also duplicated in its entirety in Spanish.
- Domestic Violence Legal Hotline: 505-243-4300
- HIV/AIDS Legal Helpline: 1-800-982-2021