I Can’t Afford an Attorney: What Are My Options? Featured Image

I Can’t Afford an Attorney: What Are My Options?

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If you are the target of online harassment and do not have the funds to engage an attorney, it can be hard to know where to turn. Victims of internet defamation, sextortion, and other internet privacy attacks deserve peace of mind no matter their financial status.

If you cannot afford an attorney but need help fighting back against online attacks, here are a few free or low-cost resources to consider:

  • Minc Law’s Legal Resource Center;
  • The websites of other reputable internet law firms in your area;
  • Digital Media Law Project;
  • Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE);
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press;
  • Revenge porn and sextortion-specific resources like Thorn, TheHotline.org, the Cyber Civil Rights Hotline, and Google’s revenge porn portal; and
  • Local legal aid chapters and your local bar association.

While it is always best to have an experienced legal team on your side, we at Minc Law understand that not everyone has the resources to retain an attorney. Even if we cannot enter into a legal representation agreement with you, we want you to have the resources you need to fight back against online harassment.

In this article, we provide actionable tips for finding free and affordable information for victims dealing with internet-related legal matters.

What We Can Help You With For Free

One of the best ways to start tackling your issue is by becoming informed. And there are many authoritative, knowledgeable resources—like Minc Law’s Legal Resource Center—that you can access for free. Our Legal Resource Center offers content on various issues such as defamation lawsuits, sextortion relief, and simple content removal guides.

We write all of our content in-house. Minc Law’s website is filled with excellent articles and videos that have been created by our paralegals, attorneys, and administrative team. That content is then put through a fact-checking and review process by other attorneys on our team to ensure substantive accuracy and readability. Seeking out relevant content is a great way to understand how to navigate the issues you may be facing.

It is critical for victims of defamation, harassment, and extortion to know what they are facing and how to handle their unique situations. With this in mind, we at Minc Law try to provide as much actionable information and advice as possible with the content we publish.

Exploratory Calls With Our Client Intake & Paralegal Team

Our intake team offers free exploratory calls for potential clients who have questions about legal representation and who are unsure if they can afford an attorney or not. Our intake team are not attorneys and are not in a position to provide legal advice or just chat. Further, if you do call and speak to them, much of what will be communicated is from one of our free comprehensive articles.

However, we do make exceptions for sextortion victims who are minors. If you are a teen who has found yourself in this incredibly stressful and scary situation, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Additionally, our intake team can direct people to other resources and firms that can provide supplemental assistance.

Our firm handles a specific range of matters, including:

  • Social media defamation,
  • Blog defamation,
  • News article removals,
  • Porn removal,
  • Court record removal, and
  • Online review removals.

If you find that your matter falls into one of these categories, our intake team can provide you with a price range for the firm’s service. If the price is manageable for you, our intake team can then schedule you for a free consultation with an attorney to discuss the matter in greater detail and delve into a strategy to resolve the problem.

The quickest way to reach a member of our intake team is by calling us at (216) 373-7706 during our office hours (Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM ET). If an intake member does not answer, our answering service will gather your information and forward it to our team. Our intake team always strives to call you back within the same day.

If the price is outside of your budget or you would like to first explore free resources and options to resolve your matter, please keep reading!

Internet Defamation lawyer Checklist

Where Can I Find Free Resources on Internet Defamation, Revenge Porn, Sextortion, & Online Harassment?

If an online sextortionist or defamer is targeting you, it is always best to have the advice and support of an experienced internet attorney. But if you do not have the funds to retain legal help, there are plenty of free resources online that can prepare you to deal with the harasser on your own.

Other Law Firms’ Websites

If you cannot find the information you are looking for in Minc Law’s Resource Center, there are other excellent law firms that regularly publish informative blog posts and other pieces of content on these issues that may be helpful.

These firms have similar areas of practice and may also offer different types of fee arrangements. Meaning if Minc Law is not a good fit for you, these firms may be worth checking out.

Start with a quick Google search to find law firms specializing in your issue. And since defamation and extortion laws vary by state, it is a good idea to search for law firms in your area. For example, you might search for “invasion of privacy attorney Cleveland.”

Then, look at their website to see if they have content on your situation. Here are a few reputable law firms around the country that we recommend that specialize in Internet matters:

C.A. Goldberg

C.A. Goldberg is a New York City-based victims’ rights law firm. Head lawyer Carrie Goldberg and her team specialize in areas like revenge porn, online and offline stalking and harassment, internet privacy, and extortion.

The firm’s website contains in-depth free resources about sextortion, blackmail, and internet safety.

The Social Media Law Firm

The Social Media Law Firm is based in Miami, Florida, and provides expert assistance in all aspects of social media law. This firm can assist with matters such as copyright abuse, terms and conditions issues, influencer marketing, and social media compliance for businesses.

The Cyber Law Firm

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, CyberLaw has become a leading legal team in data privacy and cyber harassment. This law firm can assist with matters such as hacking, cyber stalking or harassment, computer fraud, and doxxing.

Non-Law Organizations That Provide Legal Resources

Law firms are a clear first course when researching legal issues and questions. However, there are other organizations that are qualified and can assist with issues such as child pornography, online journalistic rights, and digital media responsibilities.

Digital Media Law Project

The Digital Media Law Project (DMLP) was started in 2007 as an initiative to provide legal aid and resources to online journalists and digital media organizations.

The DMLP supplies insight into the rights of journalists, online business responsibilities, and the risks of online publication. While the site ceased operations as a standalone project in 2014, there is still a large body of useful resources and articles addressing issues in the digital landscape.

Foundation for Individual Rights & Expression

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is another excellent resource for individuals struggling with censorship or retaliation for their speech. FIRE’s website provides users with a resource library, guides to free speech rights, and a database of relevant case law. You can also submit a case directly on their website.

Reporter’s Rights

Another excellent resource is the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. This site not only offers excellent information on the rights of reporters but also legal assistance to those in need.

Reporters Rights submits amicus briefs for claims that align with their mission and, under some circumstances, provides pro bono representation.

Revenge Porn & Sextortion-Specific Resources

Revenge porn and sextortion have grown in prevalence in recent years. According to the FBI, over 3000 minors were reported to be victims of sextortion in 2022, with that number increasing when factoring in adults. The National Association of Attorneys General reported that by 2017, over 10 million people had been victims of nonconsensual porn.

Child pornography, in particular, is a huge issue. Child porn is illegal and, therefore can be reported to any site and will likely be taken down quickly.

Adult nonconsensual porn, on the other hand, can be more difficult to remove. Before taking legal action against the perpetrator, it is important to be familiar with your state’s revenge porn laws. As a starting point, simply Googling “revenge porn laws in [your state]” can link you to the relevant state statutes.

Several online resources can also help with revenge porn and sextortion, including:

Thorn

Thorn is a non-profit organization dedicated to stopping child sex trafficking, abuse, and sextortion. Their site provides several helpful resources as well as an excellent page with tips for parents whose children may be facing these issues.

Google Revenge Porn Portal

Google itself has come to recognize the issue of revenge porn. To prevent the spread of nonconsensual porn, Google allows you to submit a removal request if you find this type of content in search results. The process is simple, and Google is generally quick to respond.

TheHotline.org

The Hotline is a national project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you are experiencing domestic abuse or threats, The Hotline can help. Through their site the Hotline offers safety plans, educational articles, and immediate call, text, and chat options on their website.

Cyber Civil Rights Hotline

The Cyber Civil Rights Hotline is also a great place to call if you have questions about these issues or need emergency assistance. They can be reached at (844) 878-2274.

We also recommend reading our comprehensive guide by attorney Dorrian Horsey explaining what to do if you are a minor and the target of teen sextortion.

What Are My Options if I Want to File a Lawsuit?

Depending on your matter, you may qualify for free or reduced-price legal assistance. In this section, we list three of the most common options to consider.

Civil Right to Counsel

Unlike in criminal matters, the U.S. does not guarantee a right to an attorney in civil matters. This has become increasingly problematic given the need for legal assistance in matters such as housing cases, bankruptcies, and divorce.

While there is no universal right to counsel for civil matters, some states and cities have enacted legislation that mandates the right to counsel for low-income individuals facing certain issues like eviction.

Most right-to-counsel laws only impact a small group. For example, in Cleveland, individuals living below the poverty line with at least one child can receive free counsel on eviction matters.

Legal Aid & Local Bar Association

Legal aid chapters are non-profit law firms that serve low-income individuals facing legal matters. Local legal aid chapters can be found in almost every city. To begin your search, simply Google “legal aid + [your city].”

Most legal aid chapters assist with civil matters, but a select few may be able to advise on criminal issues. Much legal aid work focuses on evictions, bankruptcies, medical-legal issues, and interactions with government agencies.

You can also turn to your local bar association for help finding affordable representation. Local bar associations are local chapters of the American Bar Association. They are not law firms, but they may be able to refer you to an attorney near you who specializes in the aid you need.

However, local bars do not limit their referrals to attorneys that work with low-income clients, so make sure to clarify your cost expectations before speaking with any lawyer.

The benefit of contacting your local bar is that they have access to the contact information for most of the practicing attorneys in your area. They can likely point you to a representative that specializes in your matter.

Pro Se

A pro se litigant is an individual who represents themselves during the litigation process.

While pro se litigants are often granted some leeway by judges, there are still many things a pro se litigant needs to know before starting the process. Many courts have legal experts who can answer preliminary questions and explain the process; however, they cannot necessarily tell you what to do.

If you are considering filing a lawsuit without an attorney, examine the court’s website to read pro se instructions and familiarize yourself with procedures and deadlines for your matter.

For example, Cleveland Municipal Court’s website has a page with information and resources for local pro se litigants. It is also a good idea to access public law libraries and pro se resources from legal aid groups.

What Are My Self-Help Options If I Need Content Removed From the Internet?

Some content is simpler to remove than others. When it comes to news articles, copyrighted material, and revenge porn, we first recommend hiring an experienced attorney to guide you through the removal process. If you cannot afford an attorney, however, you still have options.

Report the Content or Account to the Platform

It can be tricky to remove social media defamation. However, a great place to start is by simply reporting the problematic post or account to the platform. The more accounts that report a post, the more likely the platform will be to remove the content. This option is most effective when you understand a platform’s terms of service.

If the content in question was published on a news site, sending a publication removal request may be a good place to start when attempting to have a news article taken down. Many news publications have contact information on their site.

To learn more, see our article: “How to Remove News Articles From the Internet.”

Send a DMCA Takedown Notice

If you have copyrighted material that someone else has posted without your permission, you may want to consider sending a DMCA takedown request.

These requests stem from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and can be very effective in removing your copyrighted content from the internet.

To learn more about sending an effective DMCA takedown request, check out this article: “How to Send a DMCA Takedown Notice.”

Opt-Out of Data Broker Sites

Websites that display personal information, like phone numbers and addresses, are generally called data broker sites. Many people do not know they can “opt out” from having their information displayed on these websites.

If you read the terms and conditions page of these sites, you will likely see an opt-out button that you can use to remove your information. For more information on this process, see our article: Data Broker Websites: How Do They Work & How Can I Remove Myself?

Get Started With Your Internet Defamation or Online Harassment Matter

We know just how overwhelming and confusing it can be to find the right legal representation for your internet-related issue.

If you believe we are a good fit for your internet defamation or online harassment matter or would like further clarification on whether we can help resolve your issue, please contact us by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.

After assessing your unique matter, our intake specialists will be able to provide you with more detailed information about your options moving forward.

★★★★★

“Absolutely phenomenal. Michael took care of every single issue of defamation. I was concerned about wording because of the public nature of all parties involved, but Michael had open communication and approval from me all along the way. I will suggest him to absolutely anyone.”

KD
June, 2022

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