legal help in France

How to Get Free Legal Help in France

Being in a foreign country and having some sort of civil or criminal issue and not knowing who to reach out to for help is truly overwhelming. Not being able to afford the help is even worse.

Luckily, France is a country that is highly conscious of the difficulties some people may encounter, whether they are French nationals or foreign residents.

There are many ways to get free legal help, whether specialized or on more generic and standard issues.

There is a higher focus on issues relating to “criminal” affairs, so whether you are a victim of a criminal offence or a foreigner having immigration related issues, you can turn to the service called “Avocats au service des victimes” with the Parisian Regional Council of Access to Law available for Monday to Friday until noon or by telephone at 01 44 32 49 95.

Criminal and immigration affairs are often linked together due to their sensitivity so many criminal lawyers also specialise in immigration law.

Secondly, if you live in Paris and for any issue requiring professional legal advice, you can turn for free to the following services:

1. Les Points d’accès au Droit de la Ville de Paris
These are places representing the city hall of Paris and organising permanent sessions all year.

There are five centres in Paris, located in the 13th, 15th, 18th, 19th and 20th district.

You can mainly go to these centres if you have issues in your daily life:

-work-related (work contracts, unlawful termination…)
-home-related (rent, owners condominium, expulsion, issues with your landlord…)
-family-related such as marriage, PACS, divorce, inheritance, child custody
-foreigners and immigration law and access to the French nationality or requests of titre de séjour renewals
-consumer contracts (bank, insurance and other contracts)
-social protection (retirement, disability, financial aids)
-violence towards women, discriminations, proceedings involving a French administration or organism

You can contact them on the official website of the city Hall via telephone and expose your issue. They will then accordingly propose a meeting with a specialised attorney.

2. PAD Jeunes
Located at QJ, 4 place du Louvre in the first district of Paris, this organization is open every day from Tuesday to. Friday from 2 PM to 5 Pm.

You will be received by an official delegate of the rights defender.

3. Houses of Justice and Law
Les Maisons de Justice et du Droit are handled directly by the Ministry of Justice allowing you to better understand your daily rights.

There are three located in Pars, in the 10th, 15th and 17th district.
The meetings with these organisms are free, anonymous and confidential.

There is a specific division handling with victims of criminal offences.

4. The Paris Bar Association
Lawyers of the Paris Bar Association, on a pro bono and entirely volunteer basis, make themselves available in the city halls of each district.

There are also available lawyers to answer specific questions directly in the Judiciary Tribunal of Paris from Monday to Friday 9h30 to 12h30.

You can present yourself to the general information reception and they will guide you to the more specific divisions of your issue: family law, criminal law, employment law, immigration law…

On the official website of the Paris Bar Association or the bar of any city, you can find a tab for free consultations.

Generally the free consultations are only about an hour which is enough for you to expose your issue and your worries and to receive response and guidance from the lawyers.

The Judiciary Tribunal of Paris is located at the subway station Porte de Clichy, accessible on lines 13 and 14.

5. Les Relais d’accès au Droit
Finally, these centres organise free, anonymous and confidential sessions for any legal issues you may encounter.

There are more than 60 of them in Paris alone.

You will be received by a lawyer or attorney and they will take the lead on your issue to guide you in the right direction.

They are established generally in institutional or associative social structures such as social centres.

You can find the official list on the website of the city hall of your city.

In all these five places, there many legal professionals that will receive you to hear your questions: lawyers, attorneys at law, notaries, human rights defenders, justice conciliators or mediators, justice commissary.

You can find testimonies from people that have consulted these free legal advice centres, available on the official website of the city hall of Paris.

While it may be easier to find legal advice for free in Paris, there are also many centres in the other cities.

Since COVID, the advantage is that you can live in another city and still contact Parisian legal advice centres by telephone or organise meetings via zoom or teams shall you be deprived of access to Paris

These free sessions are organised by professionals with many years of experience that are warm hearted individuals willing to dedicate time pro bono to any person encountering difficulties and that may be in need of legal help.

In any case, if you seek legal advice for free, there are many places you can turn to for help in France, to at least have an answer to your legal issue or guidance in your legal proceedings.

This is highly reassuring !

What is also reassuring is that the French bar associations never cease to evolve so there will be many other alternatives in the future to deal with such issues.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “How to Get Free Legal Help in France

  1. Hello I have a friend in need of an attorney. He’s been trying to get back to the states since March of 2020. He is 75 yr old and I’m concerned about his health being stressed out. He has no money there. I beg of you to help him get home. He’s at the Charles De Gaullist airport immigration. He’s losing hope of ever getting home.

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