There are several different ways to access free legal advice in France. A new system was created at the end of 2020 to group many of these different services under one organisation. It is called Point-Justice, and has centres all around France.
Beyond this, there are a number of other options. We highlight four here, including the Point-Justice centres, and explain how they work and where to find them.
There are dedicated points around France called “Point-Justice” where you can go to seek legal advice and information about your rights from professionals.
You may see them around cities or towns, as they are marked with their distinct green “information point” logo.
There are around 2,000 of these stations in France, with various different legal professionals potentially on hand, such as lawyers, association members, mediators.
These information points are free and offer confidential advice.
A staff member at one of these points in Nice explained that usually the legal expert will be available two days per week, for a limited time during the day.
Appointments are generally limited to 30 minutes, except in the case that a person is seeking legal advice or protection from violence, when the meetings can last up to one hour.
She said that it is best to organise an appointment in advance.
The legal advisor on hand can give advice relating to all sorts of subjects, including issues with housing, family, work, etc.
The Point-Justice system was created in December 2020 to group various legal advice services under one umbrella.
For example, the “citizens’ advice” centres offering legal advice, called Maisons de la Justice et du Droit, also now fall under the Point-Justice network.
Point-Justice is linked to another information centre network in France called France Services, where people can find out about administrative procedures such as taxes, government aid, retirement options, etc.
To find your nearest Point-Justice information point, you can search online here.
Equally, you can phone 3039 (free) from mainland France to find out where your nearest point is.
It is worth noting that in rare cases, these legal information points are only open to certain demographics, such as young people, prisoners, hospital patients, etc.
Every department in France has a Conseil départemental de l’accès au droit (CDAD), a body made up of legal professionals, local politicians and associations, and its aim is to make sure everyone has access to the law.
It organises places and times for you to meet a legal expert who can explain your rights and duties, whether you have the right to legal aid, whether there are any associations that might be able to help you, and advice on how and if you should proceed.
You can find your nearest one at this link.
It is best to organise an appointment in advance, as sometimes access to these free consultations is reserved for people eligible for free legal aid.
If you live very rurally and there are no Point-Justice points near you, you can also seek advice from your mairie.
You can find the contact details and address for your local mairie via this online search tool here.
Some consumer associations also offer their members free consultations with a lawyer.
You can find consumer associations in your area via this online search tool.
For more information on free legal advice, see the government’s dedicated page here.