ECLAA = free legal help on civil law crises for low-income Essex County NJ residents


Above all, do not wait until the morning of your Landlord-Tenant or other hearing. It is best to see us at least a week before your court date, so that we can prepare you in advance.

If you need legal advice about a civil matter and qualify for free legal services, come to ECLAA in Newark at our office in Room 118 at the Newark Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102.  

Our practice is focused on civil law for low-income residents of Essex County.  The most common forms of civil law affecting our clients are housing law (most often, tenants facing eviction), consumer law, family law, etc.  

We do not do criminal law. That work is  done by the Public Defenders office.

What to expect when you get to Room 118

We only provide legal advice in person.  We cannot provide legal advice by phone or online.  Generally, the best time of day to come to our office is before 9:00 a.m. We are open Monday-Friday each week, with our last client interview typically by 1:00 p.m.  Please knock on our door to let us know you are waiting. Please be patient, since there are generally more income-eligible clients that we have attorneys.  

When you arrive at the Essex County Legal Aid Association office in Newark, you will need to fill out a brief intake form. Copies of the form are available right on our office door -- which is Room 118 in the Hall of Records building.  Complete the intake form as best you can. If you have trouble completing it, knock on our door. Ask for our brief help. 

Then, once an ECLAA attorney has finished working with another ECLAA client, we will be able to see you -- if you are income eligible.  

What to bring with you

Bring your contact information with you to ECLAA's office -- like your name, address, phone number(s), e-mail address, etc.  You must also bring:

  • proof of your residency in Essex County, 
  • documentation of your current income, as well as 
  • any other information that might allow us to help you quickly and effectively (e.g., court date if you have one, docket number, court location if assigned, copies of any relevant documents about the emergency legal matter).  
  • For tenants, such documentation includes as many of the following items: a copy of your lease if you have one, your rent receipts or other written proof that you have paid the rent in question, written correspondence with the landlord/manager (including text messages), photographs (even on your cellphone) of conditions in your apartment. Basically, if you think something will help you in your case, bring it with you to our office.

Who is income eligible to get free legal help from ECLAA

Eligibility for ECLAA's free emergency legal help is based on your annual household income and the number of people in your family/household. 

(See the table below.)

ECLAA uses a maximum income eligibility cap of 250% of the Federal poverty guidelines for all our clients.  If you make less each year than the maximum annual income for your size household, ECLAA will be able to provide our free emergency legal assistance to you and your family.  These income caps follow the guidelines of one of our larger grantmakers -- the IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey.  

To figure out whether you are eligible for ECLAA's free legal help, first find the size of your family/household (including all adults and children living with you).  Then compare your annual household income with the maximum cap for annual income shown in the annual and weekly  household income column for that household size.  

If your household income is less than the bold dollar amounts for your household size, you are eligible for ECLAA's free legal services on your emergency civil matters.  Your expected household income in 2019 is below 250% of the Federal poverty guideline:

Household Size               Annual  Income  (Weekly Income)

  1.  person                        $ 31,225 per year  ($ 600 per week)
  2. people                         $ 42,275 per year ($  813 per week)
  3. people                         $ 53,325 per year ($1,025 per week)
  4. people                         $ 64,375 per year ($1,238 per week)
  5. people                         $ 75,425 per year ($1,450 per week)
  6. people                        $ 86,475 per year ($1,663 per week)
  7. people                         $ 97,525 per year ($1,875 per week)
  8. people                        $108,575 per year ($2,088 per week)

For each additional person in your household above 8 people, add for each additional person  $ 11,050 per year ($213 per week).

We apologize for the complexity of this income cap, but it is a requirement of our major financial supporter.  As a nonprofit organization entirely dependent on donations, we must comply with such requirements.  If your annual household income is higher than the numbers above, ECLAA is not able to help you.

How, where and when to get our free services

We see our first client on Monday - Friday by 9 a.m. and our last client of the day by 1 p.m., although intake may end earlier if we need to devote more time to clients already in our office whose cases are complex and need immediate attention.  We apologize in advance for the chance that this may happen.  We try to see and help each person who knocks on our door.  We ask for your patience, even though that may be difficult under the circumstances you face.  To avoid such stress, come to our office a week before your court date.

465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Room 118, Newark NJ 071

We help eligible Essex County residents free at our office. We begin intake at 9 a.m. Monday-Friday.

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed


Each $150 covers all of the costs of providing free emergency legal assistance to a low-income client and her family when facing a civil law crisis -- most often an imminent eviction from their home.

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card