legal aid

noun
free legal service to persons unable to pay for a lawyer.

Origin:
1885–90

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
legal aid
 
n
a means-tested benefit in the form of financial assistance for persons to meet the cost of advice and representation in legal proceedings

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

legal aid

the professional legal assistance given, either at no charge or for a nominal sum, to indigent persons in need of such help. In criminal cases most countries-especially those in which a person accused of a crime enjoys a presumption of innocence-provide the services of a lawyer for those who have insufficient means of their own. In some countries defender offices with salaried personnel, either publicly or privately supported, have been found to be the most economical solution. In other countries where there is no shortage of lawyers skilled in criminal law and trial practice, private lawyers undertake this duty, being assigned by the court or being chosen by the accused person himself. In many countries these private lawyers receive no remuneration or only a nominal fee paid either by the state or from charitable funds. In an increasing number of countries, the provision by the state of a fund sufficient to pay an adequate fee and to cover all allied expenses is considered to be necessary to ensure that the person receiving this aid gets proper service

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Those who wish to donate to the legal aid fund for those arrested may do so
  here.
It's a fair point-and would be neatly addressed by granting ordinary citizens
  legal aid to sue newspapers.
Cutting legal aid, closing courts and laying off civil servants-the sacrifices
  offered by the ministry last month-were not enough.
Legal aid agencies are non-profit organizations that provide free legal
  services to people below a certain income level.
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