How Long Does It Take for Legal Aid to Be Approved?

Anyone who is eligible for legal aid can apply and wait for two or three weeks for the application to be processed. It is not a guarantee to get legal aid, it depends on a number of factors that we are going to discuss. 

There are exceptions for emergency situations that need immediate legal attention. When that situation arises, you can seek the help of your solicitor to file an emergency application that may take 2 to 3 days to be considered. 

Your application could be for free legal help or for low-cost legal help. In the United States, The Legal Service Corporation is the largest funder of all the legal aid programs. It is a federally funded organization that is concerned with funding legal representation for people with low income. 

There are other organizations that offer legal aid help to low-income earners who are battling cases in court. That includes organizations such as Stateside Legal that offer legal help to military members and their families and other organizations. 

Understanding legal aid 

Legal aid comes in different forms. It can come in the form of grants to help you pay for your legal aid provider or a lawyer who handles your case. The payments could be for a lawyer to give you some form of legal advice, prepare legal documents on your behalf, or speak for you in the courtroom. 

When your application is approved, a legal aid certificate is issued to your lawyer. A lawyer may not represent you until when he or she received a legal aid certificate. 

It is also important to note that different countries or states may categorize legal aid into different forms. In that case, legal aid may be broken down into:

Criminal legal aid 

This caters to cases of criminal nature and where the applicant is unable to meet the costs of representation in court. It takes a few days, about 2 to 3 weeks to get a response on your criminal aid application just like in other cases. 

Civil legal aid 

Civil legal aid covers cases that involve contracts or torts, mental health cases, parole hearings, workers’ compensation, and damage claims. If you are unable to meet the costs of paying your lawyer due to low income, then you can apply for this legal aid. 

Children’s legal aid 

This is an aid that covers the costs of paying for children’s representation or legal fees. It is mostly for juvenile cases where the child is not in a position to pay for legal representation by a lawyer. 

When to apply for legal aid 

You can apply for legal aid if you are in genuine need of assistance. This can happen if you have no money left to pay for your lawyer, or you are earning some low income that may not be able to cater for your needs, and also pay for legal fees. 

If you aren’t sure of your ability to meet the costs, perhaps the case may be contested, you may still apply and attach all the relevant documents that show your need for help. 

This can happen mostly in child custody cases where one party may contest, hence depleting you of the resources to continue paying your lawyer and court fees. 

How long does it take to be approved?

As we have noted, once the application is submitted, the legal aid provider will examine the application together with the documents that show the financial need. If the evidence is sufficient, the application is considered and approved. 

The legal aid provider would then issue a legal aid certificate to be served the lawyer of choice, whether government regulated or private.

 This process takes about 2 to 3 weeks, but on rare occasions, it may take slightly longer. 

The nature of the case would also dictate the time that your application can take to be approved. If it is an emergency case that needs urgent legal attention, you or your solicitor can file for an emergency application that can take less time to be approved. 

In most cases, emergency applications can take about 2 or 3 days to be considered, or even slightly longer depending on the legal aid provider. 

What is considered before legal aid is approved?

Before your legal aid is approved, the legal aid provider will consider several factors and supporting documents that you provided with your application. Of great importance is the bank statement details that show your financial position and income. 

If the legal aid provider finds out that you are in actual need of legal aid, then your application is considered. 

Some other factors that the legal aid provider would consider may include the nature of your case, the likelihood of success, and the benefit that you may gain compared to the cost of the aid that you will get. 

The likelihood for success 

The legal aid provider would assess the nature of the case and the likelihood of its success. Typically if there are high chances of success, then there are higher chances of legal aid application being approved than when there are minimal chances of winning. 

The benefit of the case 

If winning the case would grant you more benefits than what the legal aid provider spends on your case, then there are high chances of getting approved when the benefits are less than what the legal aid provider would have spent. 

The nature of your case 

The legal aid provider would also consider the nature of your case. This is especially the case with cases of criminal nature. It will also consider whether the application falls within what they cater for. 


In a nutshell, it takes 2 to 3 weeks for normal legal aid applications to be approved or rejected. It is not always about approval since sometimes the applications are rejected if there is no sufficient evidence that proves the need for that particular aid. For emergency legal aid, it can take 2 to 3 days to be considered, approved, or denied.