Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for free legal services through Wisconsin Judicare?  
A: You may be eligible for free legal help through Wisconsin Judicare if you:  
      •    Live in one of the 33 northern counties of Wisconsin or are an enrolled member of a Native American tribe;
    •    Meet limits on the value of your property;
    •    Are a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully residing in the United States; and
    •    Have low income, as defined as a percentage of the federal poverty guidelines.
  Every legal issue is considered on a case-by-case basis and is contingent on available funds.  
 Q: For what types of cases does Wisconsin Judicare provide assistance?  
 A: Wisconsin Judicare frequently provides assistance in the following areas:  

    •    Bankruptcy
    •    Family Law
    •    Health
    •    Housing
    •    Income Maintenance
    •    Indian Law issues will be reviewed for approval or denial on an individual basis.
    •    Social Security Disability and SSI
    •    Tax
    •    Wills 

  Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, and other types of legal issues are considered.  
Is Wisconsin Judicare prohibited from assisting with certain types of cases?  
A: Wisconsin Judicare cannot pay or provide legal services for the following types of cases:  

    •    Class Action Lawsuits
    •    Redistricting Activities or Litigation
    •    Representation in Civil Litigation on behalf of an incarcerated person
    •    Representation in Administrative Proceedings on behalf of an incarcerated person challenging the conditions of incarceration
    •    Representation in eviction cases where the client was charged with or convicted of sale, possession, and/or distributing a controlled substance
    •    Participating in efforts to reform a Federal or State welfare system.
    •    Criminal Cases
    •    Juvenile Matters
    •    Fee-Generating Case
    •    Patents
    •    Traffic Matters
    •    Ordinance Violations
    •    Participating in support for suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing
    •    Abortion Cases
    •    Violations of the Military Selective Service Act or desertion from the military
    •    Other restricted types of cases

If my PAI (volunteer) attorney doesn't charge for his/her services, will I have to pay for any expenses?

The lawyer will not charge you for his or her legal services, but he/she may ask you to pay out-of-pocket expenses that cannot be waived by the court.

Can I ask my lawyer for help with other legal problems?

The PAI attorney assigned to your case has agreed to assist you with this specific legal problem.  Do not expect the lawyer to help you with other legal problems.  If you need help with another legal problem, please contact the Wisconsin Judicare to request assistance.  Remember also that your lawyer is not trained as a social worker or therapist.  If he or she cannot refer you to other service providers, Judicare staff may be able to help.

Is there any way the attorney working on my case might receive attorney fees?

In certain types of cases, there are specific laws that allow the court to order the losing party to pay the attorney fees of the winning party.  PAI attorneys are allowed to request and receive attorney fees ONLY in cases where the court specifically orders the other party to pay attorney fees and that amount is over and above the amount the court awards the client for damages and costs of litigation.  Judicare will inform you when your case is one of those that may result in an award of attorney fees.

What should I do if I don’t understand what my lawyer is doing or saying?

Respectfully tell the lawyer you do not understand and ask for more explanation.  Most lawyers rely on clients to ask questions and tell them when they don’t understand something.

What should I do when my case is completed?

When your case is over, please thank your attorney for the work done on your case.  The attorneys who contribute their time to you and Judicare are more likely to help other people in your situation if they know their work is appreciated.

Q: What is a conflict of interest?  
A: According to Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 20:1.7, a conflict of interest is when the representation of one client will be harmful to another client; or there is a big risk that the representation of one or more clients will be greatly limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, former client, or personal interest of the lawyer.

In a nutshell, a conflict of interest means that Wisconsin Judicare either has knowledge of or has represented a party, past or present, connected to you or your case which may result in an unfair advantage or disadvantage to either you or another client.

Due to Wisconsin’s Rules of Professional Conduct, we as attorneys are bound by confidentiality and are not allowed to disclose to you the specifics of the conflict.  Wisconsin Judicare simply has a conflict of interest that cannot be waived. 
Q: Why was I denied eligibility?  
A: There are many reasons why eligibility may be denied.   
      •    Your income may be too high;
    •    Your total assets may be too high;
    •    You may be outside of our service area;
    •    There may be a conflict of interest;
    •    The case does not meet case coverage criteria based on available funds; or
    •    Your particular case may be of a kind that is excluded by Legal Services Corporation (LSC) rules.
Q: How do I appeal my denial of services or eligibility?  
A: If you feel you have been wrongly denied legal assistance by Wisconsin Judicare, contact the Program Director by letter or telephone.  Upon receipt of such a complaint, the person shall have a reasonable opportunity to confer with the Director or his/her designee and, if possible, with a Board member.  The matter will be reviewed and, if appropriate, a waiver granted.