The worst time to be in a financial mess is when you have legal battles to take care of. That’s because losing these battles could sink you deeper into financial turmoil. If this describes your situation, then the most pressing question is how to hire a lawyer with no money.
Even people who’ve never set foot in a courtroom know how expensive lawyers can be. So hiring a lawyer without any money seems downright impossible. Sometimes, however, the stakes are so high that you’ll have to hire a lawyer, even if your pockets are dry.
Of course, you can choose to battle it out without a lawyer, but that’s not a viable option for most people. The legal system will have a field day with you should you choose to go it alone. This is especially true for divorce and business cases.
In this piece, we’ll be showing you how you can hire a lawyer even if you can’t afford one.
What Happens if You Can Afford a Lawyer?
If you can’t afford a lawyer in court, the court may hire an attorney to represent you. However, you are only viable for a court-appointed attorney if you risk serving jail time or if you violate a court order. If it’s not either of the above, then you may not qualify for a court-appointed attorney.
The process of getting a court-appointed attorney varies from state to state. In most states, if you violated a law or court order, the court will serve you with an order to show cause. This is a mandate to explain to the judge why you violated the court order in question.
You’ll need an attorney to explain why you violated a civil law or court order. That’s why you’ll obtain a packet for the application for the appointment of an attorney. This packet includes a motion for the appointment of an attorney.
After filling in the motion and handing it over to the court, the judge will review it. A decision will, after that, be made on whether you qualify for a court-appointed attorney or not. If you don’t, you can explore other options.
How to Hire a Lawyer With No Money
Not everyone can qualify for a court-appointed attorney, especially if you won’t serve jail time if you lose the case. If you can’t get a court-appointed attorney and can’t afford a lawyer, then your only option is legal aid.
So what is legal aid?
Legal aid is a collective term for services that help individuals obtain legal help if they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. There are tons of organizations that offer aid, mostly on a location basis. With most organizations, you have to meet certain criteria.
All you have to do is contact the organization offering aid to understand the application process. The organization then decides whether you’re eligible for legal aid. If you can’t afford legal aid, you can hire a lawyer on contingency.
Hiring a Lawyer on Contingency
Are you asking yourself, “How can I get a free lawyer?” Here might be your answer.
Hiring a lawyer on contingency is especially ideal for divorce cases or business disputes. Contingency in law roughly translates to “no win no fee.” It’s as simple as that; if the lawyer doesn’t win the case, you don’t have to pay them a dime.
However, keep in mind that not all lawyers work on a contingency basis. Most lawyers will represent you on a contingency basis if you can negotiate a reasonable contingency fee.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
In simple terms, a contingency fee is a portion of the settlement the attorney receives should they win the case. Remember, if the lawyer doesn’t win the case, they end up with nothing. It’s a risky gamble for the lawyer, but it does pay off.
A substantial contingency fee gives the lawyer the incentive to work hard to win the case.
Hiring a lawyer on contingency is the best alternative when you have no money to hire one in the first place. However, remember, should you win the case, you have to give up a portion of your settlement. It’s a win-win scenario for both you and the lawyer.
What Lawyers Can You Hire on a Contingency Basis?
You can hire almost any type of lawyer on a contingency basis. However, not all lawyers will represent you on a contingency basis. Plus, you can’t get a lawyer on contingency when you’re dealing with a criminal case.
Most lawyers would take on personal injury cases on a contingency basis. That’s because the lawyer can get a percentage of the settlement should you win the case. Since criminal trials don’t allow payment arrangements, this arrangement can’t work.
Personal injury cases, on the other hand, are famous for their huge settlement. In many cases, the client may be going against large corporations with heavy financial backing. As a result, the settlement from a personal injury case is likely to be substantial.
The Contingency Fee Agreement
Before the lawyer can represent you on contingency, you first have to sign a contingency agreement. This agreement outlines the terms of the representation in court and the payment terms. Make sure you read the agreement before you put pen to paper.
Some attorneys are notorious for hiding information in the agreement, and you’ll be on the losing side. Don’t take your lawyer’s word about the agreement. Instead, take time to go through the fine print just to be sure.
In case there’s any section of the agreement that’s unclear, don’t be afraid to ask. That’s the only way you’ll have confidence in your lawyer and the agreement. Also, keep a copy of the agreement, just in case you need it in the future.
What to Consider Before Hiring a Lawyer on Contingency
Before signing the contingency agreement, here are a couple of factors you should keep in mind:
Steer clear from lawyers who want to jump on your case before doing their due diligence. That’s because there’s a chance that your case could go to trial. The lawyer should be well prepared should your case go to trial.
Some lawyers may charge consultation fees even though you’re hiring them on contingency. Make a point of asking whether the lawyer charges a consultation fee. Make sure you ask all pressing questions during the consultation.
The Lawyer’s Experience
One thing you should never overlook is the lawyer’s experience in handling these types of cases. Inexperienced lawyers may take on contingency cases but won’t do you any good. Make sure you hire an experienced lawyer for your case.
Cons of Hiring a Lawyer on Contingency
If you’re strapped for cash, hiring a lawyer on contingency seems like a perfect idea. However, doing so isn’t without its drawbacks. Here are a few cons of hiring lawyers on contingency.
- You may get a meager settlement amount, yet the lawyer has to take a significant portion.
- Not all lawyers may agree to work on a contingency basis. Most lawyers are unwilling to work on a contingency basis if the settlement amount is likely to be too low.
- The IRS will charge you for the entire settlement, even though you pay part of it to the lawyer. This may lead to a few issues when filing your taxes, especially with the new tax regulations.
These are some of the drawbacks of hiring a lawyer on a contingency basis. If hiring a lawyer on contingency isn’t a viable option, you can consider the other legal aid model.
Types of Legal Aid Models
There are plenty of legal aid models you can opt for if you can’t find a lawyer to hire on contingency. Here are a few examples.
Legal Clinics– Legal clinics are funded by legal corporations such as the LSC. They provide free legal services for civil cases. They only serve people who can’t afford lawyers and do a thorough background check to ascertain legibility.
Pro bono attorneys– Pro bono is a Latin term which translates to “for the public.” These attorneys willingly offer their services to clients who can’t afford to pay legal fees.
Charities– Some lawyers have established charities to help individuals who can’t afford lawyers. These charities are made up of lawyers, business people, and even artists who’ve come together for the common good.
If you don’t have money and can’t find a contingency lawyer, then the above options will serve you well. You can also check out Request Legal Help to see whether you can get legal advice.
Legal Representation Without Money Is Possible
Now that you know how to hire a lawyer with no money, we hope you can heave a sigh of relief. If you have a civil case with a reasonable settlement, then the best option is to hire a contingency lawyer. If not, you can explore the other option and find which suits you best.
Here at Justice Nows, we’re all about the Judicial System and the legal scene. For more informative reads on legal affairs, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site.