AGAINST THE CHILL:
A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR SLAPP VICTIMS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Generally, a "SLAPP" is a (1) civil complaint
or counterclaim; (2) filed against individuals or organizations;
(3) arising from their communications to government or
speech on an issue of public interest or concern. SLAPPs
are often brought by corporations, real estate developers,
government officials and others against individuals and
community groups who oppose them on issues of public concern.
SLAPP filers frequently use lawsuits based on ordinary
civil claims such as defamation, conspiracy, malicious
prosecution, nuisance, interference with contract and/or
economic advantage, as a means of transforming public
debate into lawsuits.
Most SLAPPs are ultimately legally
unsuccessful. While most SLAPPs lose in court, they
"succeed" in the public arena. This is because defending
a SLAPP, even when the legal defense is strong, requires
a substantial investment of money, time, and resources.
The resulting effect is a "chill" on public participation
in, and open debate on, important public issues. This
"chilling" effect is not limited to the SLAPP target(s):
fearful of being the target of future litigation, others
refrain from speaking on, or participating in, issues
of public concern.
The filing of a SLAPP also impedes resolution
of the public matter at issue, by removing the parties
from the public decision-making forum, where the both
cause and resolution of the dispute can be determined,
and placing them before a court, where only the alleged
"effects" of the public controversy may be determined.
For example, imagine a company asks for a zoning variance
to place an incinerator in a residential area. When
local residents object to the city council, the company
sues them for "interference with contract." The judge
hearing the suit cannot decide the real issues -- the
location of the incinerator -- but will have to spend
considerable judicial resources to decide the side issues
of the alleged "damages" or other consequences of the
public debate on the real issues.
Every year, thousands
of people are sued for participating in government or
for speaking out on public issues. SLAPP targets have
been sued for engaging in a wide variety of protected
speech and protected expression activities, including:
writing a letter to
calling a public official
reporting police misconduct
erecting a sign or
displaying a banner on their property
complaining to school
officials about teacher misconduct or unsafe conditions
in the school
speaking at a public
testifying before Congress
or state legislatures
speaking as an officer
of an active public interest group
filing a public interest
In California, a new law to protect
people from SLAPPs, Code
of Civil Procedure section 425.16, took effect in
1993. The law allows a judge to decide at the outset
of the suit whether the SLAPP has a "probability" of
winning. If the judge finds that it does not, the SLAPP
must be dismissed, and the SLAPP target wins his or
her legal defense costs and attorneys' fees.
The expressive activity which is protected
under the new California law is broad. Code
of Civil Procedure section 425.16 states that activity
which is protected under the law includes:
any written or oral
statement or writing made before a legislative, executive,
or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding
authorized by law;
any written or oral
statement or writing made in connection with an issue
under consideration or review by a legislative, executive,
or judicial body, or any other official proceeding
authorized by law; or
any written or oral
statement or writing made in a place open to the public
or a public forum in connection with an issue of public
Other states have similar protections against SLAPPs.
Washington and New York have "anti-SLAPP" statutes:
Washington Revised Code sections 4.24.500 - 520; New
York Civil Practice Law, Rule 3211(g) and Rule 3212(h),
and New York Civil Rights Law sections 70-a and 76-a.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that citizens of
that state are protected from SLAPPs. Protect Our Mountain
Environment v. Superior Court, 677 P.2d 1361 (Colo.
SLAPPs all arise out of expressive activity
which is directed to public concerns. Often, SLAPPs
are "camouflaged" as ordinary civil lawsuits based on
traditional theories of tort or personal injury law.
Among the most often used legal theories are the following:
Broadly defined, this is an alleged intentional false
communication, which is either published in a written
form (libel) or publicly spoken (slander), that injures
Invasion of Privacy.
This legal theory refers to the unlawful use or exploitation
of one's personality, the publicizing of one's private
affairs with which the public has no legitimate concern,
or the wrongful intrusion into one's private activities.
legal theory includes everything that endangers, or
may endanger, life or health, gives offense to the
senses, violates the laws of decency, or obstructs,
or may obstruct, the use and enjoyment of property.
or Abuse of Process. A "malicious prosecution"
is a criminal or civil lawsuit which is begun with
knowledge that the case lacks merit, and which is
brought for a reason (e.g., to harass or annoy) other
than to seek a judicial determination of the claim.
The use of the legal process to intimidate or to punish
the person against whom the suit is brought is generally
referred to as "abuse of process."
A conspiracy is an alleged agreement between two or
more persons to commit an illegal, unlawful, or wrongful
of Emotional Distress. This legal theory is based
on an alleged commission of some outrageous act with
the intent and knowledge that the act will result
in severe mental or emotional anguish of another.
Contract or Economic Advantage. This legal theory
is based on the alleged commission of an act with
the intent to interfere with or violate a contract
between two people, or hinder a business relationship
which exists between those persons.
This listing is not exhaustive. Neither
the context nor the specific legal theory upon which
a suit is based is important in determining whether
a particular case is a SLAPP. If the activity which
triggers the lawsuit is constitutionally protected speech
or petition activity, then the suit is a SLAPP.
It is important to recognize that SLAPP
filers are not all malicious, any more than SLAPP targets
are all well intentioned. The parties' subjective motives
- bad faith, intent, frivolousness, intimidation, or
even rightness or wrongness on the merits - are irrelevant.
The only critical issue is whether protected expressive
activity triggered the suit, and is therefore at risk.
To Remain Involved
Dialogue and freedom of expression are
at the core of our democratic form of government. One
way to retain our rights to free speech and petition
is to continue to use them.
A good way to remain involved is to
know your legal rights. Become familiar with California's
new "anti-SLAPP" statute, Code
of Civil Procedure § 415.16. This statute does not
guarantee that you will never be the target of a SLAPP.
However, it presents a mechanism through which a judge
can dismiss the suit against you at the very outset
of the suit. If the judge rules that the suit must be
dismissed, the SLAPP filer is required to pay the cost
of your defense, including any attorneys' fees.
If you are a homeowner
and carry homeowner's insurance, check you policy for
personal injury liability coverage. Many policies protect
homeowners from personal injury lawsuits based on such
things as defamation, nuisance, interference with contract,
etc. If you can't tell whether your policy will protect
you, consult your carrier. If your present policy does
not cover you, ask about a rider which would extend
coverage to such matters.
Whether you are writing your government
representative or speaking on an issue of public importance,
always make sure your statements are factually correct.
If your letters, reports, pamphlets, or other written
documents are accurate, there will be no factual disputes
later on. You may want to keep copies of all background
materials and note sources of facts and figures quoted
so that you can show where you obtained the information.
Understand that there are differences
between statements of fact and statements of opinion.
You may be legitimately sued for false statements of
fact, but not for statements of opinion. Be careful.
You will not be protected for stating, "In my opinion,
Senator Squelch is a liar and a thief," unless, of course,
your statement is entirely true. If your words contain
an assertion of fact that is capable of being proven
true or false -- i.e., that Squelch is or is not a liar
and a thief -- you can be sued if it is shown that your
statement is false, even though you tried to qualify
the statement as "opinion."
If you are planning to write to a government
official or speak out on a public issue, and you are
unsure if your statements could subject you to a lawsuit,
contact a lawyer who can assist you. The Where To Find
Help section of this handbook may help you in finding
a knowledgeable attorney to consult.
If you find yourself the target of a
SLAPP, don't panic! Many other people have been in your
position, and there are individuals and organizations
out there that can help you.
If you are the target
of a SLAPP, you may receive a demand letter from the
lawyer representing the SLAPP filer which lists a series
of "options" you must meet to resolve the matter before
a lawsuit is actually filed. Often, the letter will
demand a sum of money, an apology (generally public),
your agreement to refrain from speaking out or participating
in the future, your agreement not to bring a lawsuit
against the SLAPP filer, or a combination of these and
The more likely scenario is that you
will learn of the SLAPP when you are personally presented
with a "Summons" and "Complaint" at home or work. The
Complaint will list the specific "wrongs" you are alleged
to have committed. Look for the legal jargon: words
like "libel," "slander," "interference with contract,"
etc., which are briefly defined above.
The Summons is a notice, telling you
that you have been sued; it will give a deadline (usually
30 days) within which you must file a formal response
to the Complaint with the court.
and Hire an Attorney
It is always best
to find an attorney to represent you..
Do not try to handle the case yourself! Being sued,
especially with a SLAPP, is very serious business. An
attorney may be able to effectively end the litigation
at the very beginning of the lawsuit, minimizing the
emotional and psychological stress that can result from
being sued, and saving you tremendous amounts of time
Act Early. Do not wait until
just before the formal response to the Complaint is
due to start looking for an attorney. Lawyers are busy,
too, and need some time to assess your case. Waiting
until the last minute to find a lawyer to help you will
only add stress to an already stressful situation.
If you find yourself pressed for time,
keep in mind that the attorney who files your formal
response to the Complaint does not have to be the attorney
who will eventually represent you in court. At the very
least, find a lawyer who can help you draft and file
a response to the Complaint on time. If you miss this
deadline, the Court can enter judgment against you,
without first considering all the arguments in your
defense. If a judgment is entered against you, you may
have to pay the SLAPP filer for any damages that are
being claimed as a result of your activities! DEADLINES
CONTAIN THE WORD "DEADL[Y]," AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS
SUCH. THEY CANNOT BE MISSED.
Lawyers Cost Money
It should come as no shock that most
lawyers expect to get paid for their work. Yet, even
without increasing fee rates demanded by attorneys,
defending a case is extremely expensive. Costs associated
with a typical case include court costs, photocopying
services, postage, delivery services, telephone, expert
witness fees, deposition fees and other costs. You must
consider how these costs will be paid.
The attorney you select should be in
a good position to tell you how much he or she estimates
defending you will cost. Lawyers are often flexible
on how they expect to paid. Do not be afraid to discuss
alternative payment terms with the lawyer and with an
eye to your pocketbook. Some lawyers will agree to take
your case on a contingency basis. This means that the
lawyer will be paid only if you either win the case
and the court rules that the SLAPP filer must pay your
attorneys' fees or you successfully bring a lawsuit
against the SLAPP filer for damages suffered by you
as a result of being the target of a SLAPP (This is
generally referred to as a "SLAPPback.")
If you are sued as a result of expressive
activity undertaken on behalf of a group, check on whether
the group has insurance which may cover you, maintains
a legal defense fund, or is willing to help defray legal
costs by doing fundraising on your behalf.
Some attorneys will agree
to defend you on a pro bono (free) or low cost (reduced
hourly attorney fee rate) basis. One way to find pro bono
or low cost legal services is to check the Where To Find
Help section of this handbook. Be forewarned, however,
that the law requires that you remain responsible for
paying all legal costs associated with the case, such
as filing fees and court costs. This is true even if the
attorney agrees to work for you for free.
Now the good news. Under the new California
anti-SLAPP law, you will be entitled to recover legal
fees, court costs, and other expenses if the judge rules
that the SLAPP filer cannot show a probability of winning
the suit. Thus, even if you can't afford to pay hourly
attorney fee rates, an attorney will often be encouraged
to defend you on a pro bono, contingency, or low cost
basis if he or she understands that attorney fees will
be paid by the SLAPP filer if you win.
In many cases, your homeowner's liability
insurance policy will require the insurance carrier
to defend you if you are sued. Consult your carrier
and an outside attorney to see if you are covered. If
so, the carrier will provide a lawyer to help you. This
will mean you will not be required to pay legal fees
for legal representation. Be aware, however, of two
consequences of such an arrangement. First, the company
attorney will be inclined to reflect the carrier's position,
which may not always be in line with what you want.
Second, there is a difference between the insurance
company providing you with a defense and ultimately
paying any judgment entered against you. The company
may defend you, but reserve its rights not to pay the
judgment if it later determines the judgment is not
covered by your policy.
It is helpful to find a lawyer who shares or understands
your politics, or at least someone who will listen
and understand why you said or did what you did. Conflicts
over differing philosophies, gender bias, or political
beliefs are not only time consuming, they may affect
the kind of representation you will receive.
Find someone who has experience defending SLAPP victims
or who is familiar with the legal and factual issues
of your case. This can be critical to your case both
in terms of costs and time. Ask the lawyer if he or
she has worked on these kinds of cases before, and
what kind of experience that lawyer has generally.
You may also ask if the lawyer would mind if you speak
to other clients and/or SLAPP victims the attorney
has represented in the past.
Willing to Share
the Load. It is important to remain involved in
the decision-making process throughout all the stages
of the lawsuit. Do not be afraid to ask about the
potential ramifications of all legal and strategic
decisions before authorizing your attorney to take
action on your behalf.
It may also be helpful if the attorney is used to
dealing with the press. Often these kinds of cases
generate a lot of media interest. The right kind of
media visibility will help your case. The wrong public
image, however, could be devastating.
Often, you must ultimately decide if you will be satisfied
with the prospective attorney. It is very important
that you be able to work with the attorney comfortably.
You may well be spending more time with this person
than you know.
The Mechanics of
Finding a Good Lawyer
Take the time to gather all information
you can and present it to prospective attorneys. Ideally,
the attorney should have a complete a picture of the
relevant facts of the case and any legal matters pertaining
to the case that you may be aware of.
Create a neat package of information that you can
present to potential attorneys; it may include:
a brief cover letter
which is respectful of the attorney's time, focuses
on the key issues in your case, and states, specifically,
what you would like the lawyer to do for you.
a copy of the demand
letter, Complaint or any other official document
you received from the SLAPP filer or his or her
the names of any
attorneys who may have advised or represented or
advised you in this action, and how to contact them.
the names of the
attorney or attorneys representing the SLAPP filer,
and how to contact them.
the names of important
witnesses, if any.
key newspaper articles
or other background information about your case
and/or your opponents.
Explain your story as succinctly as possible. You
may even wish to practice before the first interview.
Have you own list of questions ready. The list should
include questions about the case, as well as questions
about the lawyer's experience and interest in similar
suits. Become familiar with California's anti-SLAPP
statute and ask the attorney if it applies to your
case. You may want to learn as much as you can about
SLAPPs in general. Your local library is a good source
for current literature on the topic. You can also
learn more about SLAPPS by contacting one of the agencies
listed in the "Where to Find Help"
section of this page.
There are several stages to SLAPP litigation.
The following is a list of the key events you can expect
in defending a SLAPP.
Filing a Response
You have a very limited amount of time
(typically, 30 days) to file and deliver "an initial
responsive pleading." Often, your "first responsive
pleading" will be the Answer to the Complaint. This
is a formal document detailing your response to each
of the allegations in the Complaint. Or, it may be a
document which attacks the Complaint on legal or factual
grounds, such as a Special Motion to Strike (described
below). Remember that your initial response, whether
an Answer, a Special Motion to Strike, or other document,
must be filed with the Court and delivered to the other
side within the deadline specified on the Summons.
a Temporary Restraining Order.
A SLAPP filer can ask for a temporary
restraining order ("TRO") when the Complaint is filed.
A TRO is a court order that temporarily orders or prohibits
a specific act or series of acts until the court rules
on the matter. A TRO is of limited duration, usually
lasting no more than 20 days. You may get very little
notice (24 hours) that a TRO is being sought. As a TRO
may impact your ability to speak out on an issue or
remain active in important public affairs, it must be
he Complaint may seek declaratory relief,
which means that the filer has asked the court to make
a ruling on the respective rights and duties of the
parties under the circumstances. The Complaint may also
seek preliminary or permanent injunctive relief; like
a TRO, a preliminary injunction is a temporary order
which orders or prohibits a specific act or series of
acts until trial. A permanent injunction orders or prohibits
an act or acts indefinitely.
A motion for declaratory or a preliminary
or permanent injunction requires that all interested
parties be given notice of the motion (usually 15 days)
and an opportunity to be heard. The crucial issues in
a SLAPP are frequently decided on such motions. If the
SLAPP filer is seeking such a motion, it must be vigorously
Bringing a Special
Motion to Strike.
California's new anti-SLAPP statute,
of Civil Procedure § 425.16, gives victims an opportunity
to have the court rule at the outset whether a SLAPP
filer can show a probability of winning the suit. If
the judge finds that the filer cannot prove that the
case has a probability of winning, the court will "strike"
the Complaint, and dismiss the suit. The court will
also order the filer to pay to the SLAPP victim his
or her attorneys' fees and costs.
This special motion generally must be
brought 60 days from the date the Complaint is received,
and is the best way to put an end to a SLAPP early in
the proceedings. The special motion to strike can be
brought later than 60 days after the Complaint is received,
but only if a court, in its discretion, allows it to
be filed at a later time.
Make sure that there is a good basis
for bringing the special motion to strike. If the court
finds that it is frivolous, or brought only for purposes
of harassment or delay, the court will sanction you,
and order you to pay the amount of attorneys' fees and
costs incurred by the other side in opposing your motion.
Dealing with Discovery.
Discovery is the term for the process
in which parties to litigation gather information from
each other. This is accomplished by depositions, in
which individuals are orally questioned by lawyers,
under oath, as if on the witness stand, or by interrogatories,
which are written questions by one party to the other
and which require a written answer, also under oath.
Parties may also ask that any important documents be
turned over; this is known as a request for production
of documents. The process of discovery can take months
Under the special motion to strike
procedure of Code
of Civil Procedure § 425.16, described above, all
discovery is suspended or stayed until a judge rules
on the special motion to strike. This means that all
discovery must be halted until the judge rules. This
is important because even the process of having to answer
discovery requests can impact one's willingness to oppose
a project or speak out on public issues. However, if
you believe the other side has information necessary
to your defense, you will be unable to get it once the
special motion to strike is filed. Carefully consider
whether there is information you may need before filing
the special motion to strike. Alternatively, the court,
upon a formal request and for good cause shown, may
order that a specified course of discovery be conducted.
In many counties, once discovery is
over, cases are ordered to arbitration. Arbitration
is a mini-trial or hearing in which the case is presented
to a neutral party -- usually another attorney or a
private or retired judge -- who makes a determination
and an award. The arbitration ruling can be appealed
by either party.
a Motion for Summary Judgment
Upon completion of discovery and following
arbitration (where the arbitration procedure is used),
any party can bring a motion for summary judgment. This
is used to inform the court whether there are any material
issues of fact in dispute. If there are no factual issues
in dispute, and only issues of law remain, the judge
decides the case by interpreting the relevant law. If
however, factual disputes remain to be decided -- for
example, whether one party or the other is telling the
truth -- the case must go to a jury, unless the parties
agree that a judge may decide the issue.
If the case cannot be resolved by any
of the above procedures, it will be considered in a
trial. A jury or judge will hear the evidence, which
may include live testimony from each side, and present
a final ruling or "judgment."
After trial, a judgment is entered according
to the ruling of the jury or trial judge. If the judgment
orders the payment of money from one party to another,
there are various mechanisms to enforce the judgment
to ensure that payments are made. A final judgment may
be appealed to a higher court, by either party, but
only upon a showing of some legal error. Generally,
the filing of an appeal does not render the judgment
automatically unenforceable. To pursue an appeal, the
losing party must instead post a bond, often in an amount
twice that of the judgment, to secure the judgment during
the appeal process.
It is very likely that
you will not be the only person being sued by a SLAPP
filer. A common strategy is for the filer to sue all vocal
opposition. In addition, the SLAPP filer can sue numerous
(anywhere between ten and several hundred) as yet unnamed
"DOE" defendants. This means that the SLAPP filer can,
at any time during the case, replace a "DOE" defendant
with a named individual. As a result, others who are sympathetic
to your position or cause may be fearful of helping you
or continuing to speak out on the issue, because of a
concern that at any time they, too, may be sued.
If you are one of a number of people
being sued, consider a cooperative defense strategy.
Cooperation with other defendants can have a number
of benefits. Often, it helps to develop a good and successful
defense. In addition, cooperation with others can reduce
the stress and financial burden of defending a lawsuit
The first step is to come to an agreement
with co-defendants about what issues to focus on. Does
the litigation seek to impede your work or that of your
organization? How important are these goals to your
work? Would you be willing to give up your work to settle
the case? What if others have used alternative or unlawful
means to pursue these common goals -- are you willing
to stand with these persons, though you differ as to
how specified goals should be accomplished? Consider
the significance of the suit -- if the SLAPP filer is
successful in silencing you and your friends, will others
be silenced too?
Decide how litigation
expenses and attorney fees are going to be paid and by
whom. If money and resources must be raised, agree upon
fundraising efforts, who is responsible for these efforts,
and how money will be disbursed from such activities.
Decide at the outset who will be the
spokesperson(s) for your case. Spokespeople should be
selected with extreme care. Public perception is important
in generating interest, support, money, and sympathy.
You do not want to take the chance of alienating either
the judge, who will be ruling on your case, or potential
supporters of your work.
If problems or disagreements arise which
cannot be resolved in discussion, it is probably a good
idea to split from the group and obtain your own lawyer.
There is little advantage to being united with others
if your own case is going to suffer.
Dealing with the Press
Whether or not your attorney is experienced
in dealing with the press, become familiar with The
Press Handbook. This handbook, available through the
Media Alliance in San Francisco, California, will show
you how to generate positive media coverage and support
for your case.
if You File a Lawsuit First?
Often, civic minded citizens
who file public interest lawsuits can be hit with a
SLAPP "counter- claim." In such a circumstance, the
SLAPP filer uses your lawsuit to sue you for claimed
damages arising out of the circumstances which lead
to you to file your public interest lawsuit.
Before you or your community group
chooses to initiate a public interest lawsuit, make
sure that you have a good case. Find out what all the
possible ramifications are before filing suit. When
preparing to initiate litigation, be sure to document
everything of significance. Know your facts. You may
wish to keep a litigation notebook to include the following:
important dates and
referrals and attorneys
a listing of information
you have with the words "confidential" and "attorney-client
or attorney work-product privileged" written across
a confidential listing
of key witnesses
notes of discussions
with the opposite side of the case
The creation of such a notebook will
not only help protect you in the event of a SLAPP, it
will make you a better advocate in your own case.
Also, consider whether your case will
be benefitted by having other groups or organizations
join your lawsuit. Often, the mere existence of several
groups opposing a single project or opponent can add
a note of importance to your lawsuit. Joining with like-minded
individuals and groups is also a good way to spread
the cost of litigation. Similarly, if the opponent turns
around and SLAPPs you and your co-plaintiffs, you will
not be alone in defending the SLAPP.
If you are successful in defending a
SLAPP, and you can show that the SLAPP was brought for
a purpose other than to resolve the issue by legal means
-- e.g., the case was filed for the purposes of harassment,
needlessly piling up defense costs, silencing opposition,
etc. -- seek legal advise about SLAPPing back. A SLAPPback
is a way to seek monetary damages, including pain and
suffering, from the SLAPP filer on the theory that the
original SLAPP constituted an abuse of the legal process.
In the past, juries in some SLAPPback
suits have ordered SLAPP filers to pay large sums of
monetary and punitive damages to the original SLAPP
target. However, the decision to initiate SLAPPback
litigation should not be entered into lightly. A SLAPPback,
like the original lawsuit, can take years to reach a
Moreover, a SLAPPback
is itself likely to be subject to the special motion to
strike procedure set forth in Code
of Civil Procedure § 425.16. This does not mean that
SLAPPbacks can never be won. It does mean that you should
have enough evidence to prove a probability of winning
the suit, before filing the SLAPPback.
Amendment Project (FAP). 1736 Franklin Street, Ninth
Floor, Oakland, California 94612 [510/208-7744]. FAP
is a non-profit public interest law firm active in two
main areas of First Amendment law: anti-SLAPP and open
government. FAP provides legal representation to individuals
and organizations to defend against SLAPPs. FAP also
helps individuals, citizen groups, and the media gain
access to government records and meetings through enforcement
of local, state and federal public records, freedom
of information, and open meeting laws.
Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP). email@example.com.
2903 Sacramento Street, Berkeley, CA 94702 [510/486-9123].
CASP is a public interest organization wich provides
legal representation to individuals and organizations
to defend against SLAPPs. CASP led the successful campaigns
to enact the anti-SLAPP law in 1992, and to amend it
in 1997 and 1999. CASP also maintaints a resource and
information center about SLAPPs on its website.
Resource Center. University of Denver School of Law,
1900 Olive Street, Denver, Colorado 80220 [303/871-6266].
The SLAPP Resource Center is run by University of Denver
Professors George Pring and Penelope Canan, the leading
authorities on SLAPPs. These scholars first coined the
term "SLAPP" and have studied these cases extensively.
Write for a free informational packet on SLAPPs.
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Northern California:
1663 Mission Street, Fourth Floor, San Francisco, California
94103; Southern California: 1616 Beverly Boulevard,
Los Angeles, California 90026
First Amendment Coalition (CFAC). 926 "J" Street,
Sacramento, California 94244 [916/447-2322]. CFAC is
an excellent resource for up-to-the-minute information
on speech, petition, and open-government laws in California.
CFAC also maintains a lawyer referral service.
Lawyers Guild (NLG). Northern California: Bay Area
Chapter of the NLG, 558 Capp Street, San Francisco,
California 94110 [415/285-5067]; Southern California:
NLG Los Angeles, 8124 W. Third Street, Suite 201, Los
Angeles, California 90048 [209/441-8721].
Local Bar Associations.
Local bar associations often have a lawyer referral
service and may be able to tell you which firms handle
pro bono and/or low cost legal services.
Friends and Family. Friends
and family are always a good place to seek help. If
you are in need legal help, don't be afraid to ask everyone
you know for a lawyer referral to follow up on.