Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and are not intended to represent Williamson County policy nor intended as legal advice.
At JP4, my staff cannot give out legal advice. We can give you legal information which generally consists of where to go or who to contact for more information. We have several sites listed on our webpage where you can go to get legal information. For example, we have a packet of information available for you to use to prepare your suit. It contains all the forms needed to file. We can give you some information on how to fill out those forms but determining what the precise amount to sue for should be falls under legal advice.
So, where do you go for legal advice? The most obvious answer is a lawyer. However, in Justice Court, it may not a good return on investment to spend money on a lawyer. Suing in small claims? Yes. Fighting a traffic ticket with a maximum fine of $500? Maybe not.
The internet is your next stop. But which websites? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you need legal information about Texas laws then TexasLawHelp.org is a good bet. The Texas State Law Library (sll.texas.gov) has several listings for specific information on multiple websites – from consumer protection to divorce to real estate and more. Nolo.com is another resource with articles, forms, books, and software, some of which are free and some not.
Need more than just information? Try Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid at www.trla.org. They offer free legal services to low-income Texans and can help with Domestic and Family Violence, Housing, and more.
There are other websites, of course, that show up in a search for free legal advice. Which one you choose depends, again, on what you need. Avvo.com can help you find a lawyer locally and has a forum to ask questions. Their answers tend to be general but can point you in the right direction. Quora.com may be able to help with specific questions, just be aware of the need to get multiple answers to verify you’re getting the right advice. Justia.com, like Avvo.com, can help you find a lawyer and offers an “ask a lawyer” option for free advice. Like Avvo, it will be basic advice but you can specify your topic and state.
Last, the resource I use most often is the Texas Justice Court Training Center site (www.tjctc.org). The TJCTC provides training for Justices of the Peace and has free to the public forms and desk books regarding all the areas of law that a Justice Court handles.
Whether you choose to represent yourself in court or hire a lawyer, is up to you. Getting legal advice can be a challenge, especially for low-income Texans, but is usually worth the effort. Check out our website at www.wilco.org/jp4 for more forms and resources.