How to apply for help

Step 1

Can I apply? Watch this video

Step 2

How we work Watch this video

Step 3

Complete the application form online

icon user check Before you apply, check if you are eligible.
icon online form Click here for the online application form. You will need to upload all your documents to it. If you need practical (not legal) support in filling out our application form, organising your documents and/or during a court hearing, please see whether Support Through Court can help you.
icon document info Click here for a guide on how to upload and organise your documents.
icon email documents If you prefer an offline form, download one and email it along with your documents to We can only accept non-urgent postal applications. The more information you can give us, the more likely we will be able to help. Unfortunately, we cannot give legal advice over the phone.

Check if you are eligible

We cannot provide legal help to:

  • People with a deadline less than three weeks away
  • People who qualify for legal aid (click here for more information)
  • Anyone who can afford the legal help they need
  • People who have legal expenses insurance covering the problem they need help with

Legal Aid is money that you can apply for from the Government to pay for a solicitor or a barrister to help you. Advocate is not connected to this. We are a charity that helps people who cannot get legal aid. We find barristers who give free advice or representation in court but although we do our best to help, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee assistance because all of our barristers are volunteers.

Please bear in mind that we will ask you to confirm that you do not have access to the above options. Once this has been confirmed, a means test will be carried out to check your ability to afford legal help. This is carried out on a case-by-case basis. If you think you are eligible, please complete our application form with all the financial and other information requested in it.

If you are not eligible for legal assistance from Advocate, you may be able to afford a barrister through the Direct Access Portal. Alternatively, please visit our signposting page for more information on how to find the right legal help from another organisation.

If you are looking to signpost an individual/case to Advocate in a specific area of law, please see our Signposting Guide with key information. 

Barristers can:

  • Represent you in any court/tribunal
  • Give legal advice in a meeting or over the phone
  • Give legal advice in writing
  • Draft documents such as skeleton arguments

Barristers cannot:

  • Prepare a case and paperwork for the court/tribunal
  • Lodge papers at the court/tribunal for you
  • Provide administrative support for you
  • Write letters on your behalf


How our service works

Advocate looks for free legal help from barristers for people who cannot get public funding (legal aid) and cannot afford to pay. Given that we rely on volunteers, we cannot always guarantee success, but if your case is eligible, we will try. We may be able to find you free legal help if:

  • You need a barrister to help you with your case.
  • Your case is based in England & Wales.
  • Your hearing or deadline is more than three weeks away after you submit a completed application along with all the documents we ask for.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to help with a case that has a hearing or deadline within three weeks if you are at imminent risk of:

  • Being imprisoned.
  • Losing contact with your children.
  • Losing your home.
  • Being deported.

The Advocate process

1. Applying to Advocate

Please choose one of the following:

It is really important that you tell us as much as you can on the form and give us all the documents and dates we ask for. The more information we have, the more likely it is that we will be able review your case and not have to keep asking you for more information.

  • Click here for a list of the documents you will need to include according to the area of law you need help with.
  • If not using the online form, email the completed application form with scanned documents to


2. Reviewing your case

Once a caseworker has received your application form, we will begin to get to grips with understanding your case. We might need to contact you directly and collect more documents. When we have everything we need, your case will be sent to one of our volunteer reviewers, who will decide whether we can look for help. They will assess your case on financial and legal merits. This process takes several weeks and we prioritise cases with upcoming hearing deadlines.

  • Your case will either be accepted or rejected and we will email you to let you know. Occasionally we may need more information to be able to decide.
  • The reviewer's decision is final and cases are assessed on a step-by-step basis. This means that we can only agree to help you find assistance with one piece of work at a time.
  • Please note that assistance is not yet guaranteed at this stage because we still need to find a barrister to be able to help and this process can take time.


3. Allocating a barrister

If your case is accepted by Advocate, we will attempt to match you with a barrister who can provide you with legal advice, drafting or representation in court/tribunal. 

  • Please note that help is not guaranteed at this stage because we rely on volunteers and it is not always possible to find an available barrister. If it is not possible, we will email you to let you know. This process can take several weeks.
  • If we find a barrister who can take on your case, you will be contacted by a member of Advocate who will put you in touch and you can now take your case forward directly with them.
  • If we cannot find you any help, we will let know at least one day before your hearing date so you can still represent yourself.
  • We never guarantee that we will be able to find someone to help, but we will do our best to try.