Submit a Complaint
There are many legal aid programs that do not get money from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). We can only take complaints that involve an LSC grantee.
File a Grievance with the Grantee First
Filing a grievance with the grantee directly is required by regulations. If you file a complaint with LSC without going through the grantee’s grievance process, we will likely ask you to complete this process first, because:
- It is the quickest step to address the problem.
- It helps the supervising attorney, director, and/or board members understand what is happening at the grantee.
- It allows you to make a personal appeal for your concerns.
The advocates at the grantee will work hard to understand your concerns and to address them in a professional manner.
Every year, LSC grantees represent hundreds of thousands of clients. In addition, hundreds of thousands of individuals contact them for help. Sometimes, a client or an applicant is not satisfied but there is nothing further the grantee can do.
Should I File a Complaint?
If you think that an LSC grantee, or someone employed by an LSC grantee, has violated the LSC Act or related rules and regulations, you may file a complaint with LSC. If you think that an LSC grantee may have committed waste, fraud, or abuse, you should file a complaint directly with LSC’s Office of Inspector General.
If you have a disability, and you think that the grantee did not accommodate your disability you should file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, or with your state's human rights agency.
Each legal aid organization that receives LSC funds is an independent, non-profit corporation. Please know that there is no entitlement or other right to legal assistance and LSC cannot force its grantees to take a specific case or action.
Filing a complaint is a serious step and any false accusations may result in a civil action being filed by a person who believes he or she has been wrongly accused.
Here are some things to do before contacting LSC:
- Try contacting the grantee about the problem. You can call or write to the staff person involved or to the management at the grantee.
- Each LSC grantee has a process for complaints or grievances, as required by Part 1621 of the LSC regulations. You can ask anyone at the grantee for information about their grievance process.
- If the grantee told you that it could not help you, and you think they made a mistake, you should first file a grievance directly with that grantee.
- If you are a client of an LSC grantee, and you think they did not do a good job, you should first tell them by filing a grievance directly with the grantee.
What Will LSC Do with a Complaint?
- LSC will review your complaint.
- If we cannot take action on your complaint, we will close the complaint and let you know in writing.
- If we can take action, then:
- We will contact you if we need more information.
- We may ask you to sign documentation allowing LSC to speak with the grantee about your private issues.
- We will contact the grantee to investigate the situation.
- If we find that the grantee violated the LSC Act or regulations, we will take appropriate action.
- We will notify you in writing of our decision and the outcome of your complaint. Depending on the situation, it might take anywhere from two months to more than a year.
What LSC CANNOT Do?
- Make an LSC grantee take your case. LSC cannot force a grantee to take any particular case. LSC grantees decide which cases to take and which clients to represent.
- Represent you directly or find a lawyer who will represent you for no charge.
- If you are looking for help with a civil legal problem, please click on Find Legal Aid.
- If you have a criminal case and cannot afford a lawyer, you should contact the court to request a court-appointed lawyer.
- Recover money damages. LSC has no power to award damages to a complainant, even if LSC finds that a grantee violated the LSC Act or regulations.
- Make a lawyer take action you wish him or her to take. Your attorney is a professional and has the responsibility to act in the best possible manner, considering the local law.
- Resolve complaints about rude behavior. If you believe that someone at an LSC grantee acted in an unprofessional manner, please let that person's supervisor know. If the person who behaved improperly is the director of the grantee, you may contact a board member of the grantee and share your concerns.
- Investigate and discipline an attorney at an LSC grantee (or any other attorney) that has acted in an unethical manner. You may file a complaint with the licensing authority for attorneys in your state or area. Usually that is the state court system or the official state bar association.
- Investigate and take action against an LSC grantee if they discriminated against someone in hiring, firing or employment, including discrimination based on disabilities. You may contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your state's human rights agency.
How Do I File a Complaint?
If you decide to file a complaint with LSC, your complaint must be in writing. LSC does not take complaints over the telephone. You may write a letter explaining the situation that you think indicates a violation of the LSC Act or regulations. You can send LSC your letter in the mail, by email, or using the form on this page.
Your letter should contain the following:
- Your full name, address, email address, and telephone number(s);
- The program name and address. In addition, please indicate the name of the staff person(s) involved and the specific office;
- A brief, but complete, description of the facts explaining your situation; and
- Your signature.
- Sending an email with your letter in the message or attached will create a legally binding signature.
- Submitting the web form below also creates a legally binding signature.
- Please send your letter either:
- by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
- by regular mail to:
Office of Compliance and Enforcement
Legal Services Corporation
3333 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Or you may complete and submit the form below. Filing a complaint is a serious step and any false accusations may result in a civil action being filed by a person who believes he or she has been wrongly accused. Submitting this form will create a legally binding signature.
Can I File a Confidential Complaint?
LSC is governed by the Freedom of Information Act, which means that your complaint, and possibly your identity, may be made public. You may ask for confidentiality; however, we cannot guarantee that your identity may never be discovered. We will often ask a complainant to sign a Grant of Authority to give us permission to disclose his/her identity to the grantee as the complainant. If you are a client or an applicant of the grantee, the Grant of Authority requires your permission for the program to release to LSC all information it has regarding your application or case.