When you employ lawyers, the goal is usually to keep yourself from being financially drained by your ex-spouse, adversary, or business partner who would like to sue you. But what happens when you require a legal firm to safeguard your assets but the cost of hiring one is impossible?
You Need Legal Advice
In a criminal case in which you’re unable to pay for legal help, a judge will choose an attorney for you. In a civil matter which is generally referred to as an issue between two parties, a dispute with a business owner perhaps, for legal representation, you need to be creative.
Depending on your situation, you can employ a variety of strategies to get free legal advice or cheap legal assistance. Read on for more information on each option.
Contact the City Courthouse
If you are in need of legal help and live within city limits, you may be able to find an attorney who is willing to give you some free legal advice. Contact the city courthouse and ask if they have any attorneys available to provide free legal advice. Legal advice can turn into a huge financial burden, so you will be surprised how many people find themselves in this situation.
Still, whether it’s an uncontested divorce or you’re being taken to court for something else, if you don’t have a lawyer, you could end up losing everything. If you do decide to go this route, make sure that you know what you want before you contact the city courthouse. You should also know how much money you can afford to pay out-of-pocket.
Larger firms tend to produce larger bills and although the dream firm is likely to be one of the largest law firms available, that’s not always the case.
Get a Free Lawyer Consultation
Certain lawyers will provide free consultations, usually via video conference or phone. There’s a chance that you won’t come out feeling confident to tackle your first legal case on your own, however, even if it’s only an hour-long call for informational purposes, you could be able to gather enough details to have an understanding of the legal jargon you’re dealing with. You may also be able to gain some insight regarding who can assist you at no cost or at an affordable cost.
You may well find a wide range of legal firms offering an online service. They may also offer a free consultation either by phone, online form, or offer a selection of Email addresses that you can contact. If it’s free then you really have nothing to lose and will be gathering information that could prove very useful.
Check out Legal Aid Societies
Legal aid organizations are non-profit organizations that are found in nearly every state which provide legal aid for free for people with low incomes. While this is certainly something worth investigating, the issue for many families is that the family or couple earns more than enough money to qualify to receive assistance.
If you’re a low-income person or have an income that is low does not mean that you’ll get legal assistance. According to a report from 2017 from the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit organization created by Congress to guarantee equal access to justice for all Americans, 86% of civil legal issues identified by people with low incomes Americans received insufficient or no legal aid during the year prior.
Go To A Law School
It is also possible to hire an emerging law student to provide you with some advice. Many law schools offer pro bono programs where law students are able to provide free legal assistance.
Some of the law schools which have these programs include American University, Appalachian School of Law, Arizona State University, Howard University, Tulane University, and many others.
If there’s a university in your locality that has a law faculty it is possible to inquire about it.
Contact Your County or State Bar Association
Your county or state bar association may also be able to help you. These associations work closely with local courts and lawyers to ensure that individuals have access to legal representation when needed. They also provide training opportunities for new lawyers, as well as continuing education for practicing lawyers.
They often run clinics or other services that allow them to provide free legal advice and representation. In addition to providing free legal advice, bar associations are also able to connect you with lawyers who specialize in certain areas of law.
Visit Small Claims Court
However, this is not an option that is suitable for all. In particular, you cannot apply to smaller claims courts if trying to sort out your financial situation following a divorce. However, in the event that someone owes money to you or wants to get money from you and it’s not worth the risk of paying attorney fees, then you could look into smaller claims courts.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
After looking around and speaking with enough lawyers and law school students it is possible to consider moving forward without hiring legal counsel. Although the more you research you will likely find there are a few firms that are willing to work with a smaller budget. You should ask around as you might find that charges aren’t as steep as you think, particularly when you are able to get their fees reduced.
Many attorneys also offer payment plans, which means that you pay monthly instead of paying one large sum all at one time. When you combine that with an attorney who may give you a reduction, you may well find a way to take advantage of legal counsel.
You could be lucky and locate a lawyer who offers pro bono services or someone who will consider the case under contingency. If the case is lost you will not be charged a penny. However, in the event that you win, that is the law firm wins for you, they will get a share of the amount awarded to you.
Doing it yourself is rarely the best option. An old proverb worth considering: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” However, some individuals do present themselves effectively.
Consider these things when deciding whether you require an attorney
You might require an attorney in the event that:
- There is a complex situation or case that is likely to become complicated (but be aware that you may not realize that a situation is or may be complicated without speaking to an attorney).
- You need legal advice.
- You’ll want to talk about options for your case, such as where to file your complaint as well as whether you should submit a response, or to seek an in-person jury or not, and a myriad of other questions that may arise in the course of the trial.
- You would like to have a private attorney-client relationship.
- You’re worried that the other party will never “play fair” (a lawyer will be more likely to see this and be able to take action).
- There’s a chance that you will have the option of a jury trial. There are a lot of difficult choices to be made in the selection of the jury, and deciding on how best to present your case to the jury in the most effective way.
- You are emotionally attached to the situation and you find it difficult to look at things from a distance.
You might not require an attorney in the event that:
- Your case is easy to understand and there isn’t an opposition (like when you file a application to modify your name), or you are all in agreement (like an adoption that is uncontested by stepparents, or the guardianship agreement for a child in which everyone is in agreement).
- You know all your choices and can make educated decisions regarding your case.
- You are prepared to study and comprehend the law as well as how to follow the laws and rules applicable to your situation.
- It is possible to create your case.
- You are able to follow written instructions or work independently.
While no expert in law recommends you take on the role of a lawyer, however, it’s an option when you’re in financial difficulty and no other way of proceeding presents itself.
Choosing An Attorney
It is important to be cautious when choosing an attorney. Pick a trustworthy lawyer and ensure the price is agreed upon prior to the lawyer taking your case. Don’t be surprised by the possibility of being turned down if negotiating a contingency case. It’s very risky for lawyers to handle cases on contingency, they have to be reasonably certain that juries or judges will agree with you and there will be some sort of substantial award to you.
In the end, if you’re not in a position to learn by yourself, and if you are unable to find sufficient legal help for free to help you succeed in court, it’s an excellent option to hire an experienced attorney.
You need to weigh up the possible savings against possible losses of taking on the task yourself and messing up.
Explore every avenue laid out above to find free or low-cost legal advice or a legal firm that will take your case on contingency if applicable.