Dealing with legal difficulties is already stressful enough without having to worry about the high cost of hiring a legal assistance. When traditional means of obtaining legal counsel funding are unavailable, individuals may have to look elsewhere. However there are numerous options available to assist litigants in managing the costs associated with their claims. Read on to learn more about these funding options:
What are Common Types of Legal Fees?
Although fee structure will vary from lawyer to lawyer, it is crucial to understand the vocabulary of different fee types. Common of legal fees include:
- Consultation Fee – The amount paid after having the initial discussion with the lawyer. Most lawyers will often waive the fee for consultation.
- Contingency Fee – Fees that are paid only when a settlement or trial is successful. Instead of paying from out-of-pocket costs, contingency fees are a percentage that comes out of the amount
awarded to you.
- Flat Fee – Flat fees are fixed amounts to be paid regardless of the number of hours spent by a lawyer on a case.
- Hourly Rate – Fees charged for every hour the lawyer has spent on your case.
- Retainer Fee – An amount paid to secure the services of your lawyer for any legal issue that may arise in the future. This is usually based on your lawyer’s hourly rate.
- Statutory Fee – A payment given to your lawyer whose amount is determined by the court or the state.
What are some ways to obtain funds?
Personal loans may be a viable option for financing legal fees, especially when attorneys will only begin working on the case after the payment has been made. In most cases, lenders will ask for the following documents to assess your loan request:
- Proof of Identity
- Proof of Address
- Proof of Income
- Processing Fee
However, clients with a poor credit history or low FICO score typically have a more difficult time qualifying for a loan. Experts advise individuals in this circumstance to obtain a cosigner or apply for an income-based repayment plan.
If you have a strong legal case with a high chance of success, a lawsuit funding company might allow you to get a lawsuit pre-fund. These funds allow you to borrow against money that you would potentially win in the future. One advantage of these funds is that you potentially would not have to repay anything depending on the outcome of your case.
Some options for legal pre-funds include:
The requirements to get funding are:
- A strong winnable case
- No involvement in other on-going/pending lawsuits
- Good credit history
- Documents on legal expenses
Recent sites allowed on the internet have created a buzz for the ability to solicit funds for complete strangers about to face trial. There are general crowdfunding sites you can use like GoFundMe, GoGetFunding, and IndieGoGo. However, lawsuit-specific crowdfunding sites, such as CrowdJustice and FundedJustice, are available as well.
Here are the basic requirements for a crowdfunding campaign:
- A bank account information where the funds will be sent
- A statement of your goal amount
- A cover photo or video that showcases your case
- A catchy title and a “story” of why you need the fundraiser for
If you can pay your legal fees but would like to pay in installments, a payment plan may be a good choice for you. This method provides some flexibility because you’re the one to personally negotiate payment terms with the lender. If you choose to pay your lawyer on a payment plan, you can negotiate with your lawyer who should understand your financials and can be more flexible on requirements like credit score in comparison to traditional lenders.
Attorney’s Fee Awards
In this type of funding, the judge decides that the losing side of the legal battle will pay for the winning side’s legal costs. This is called “fee-shifting” in the “American Rule”. Awards of attorney fees are usually found in cases that involve the “public good” like consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection. Clients are not the ones who will be applying for this award but the attorneys themselves. The requirements usually revolve around documentation on the actual and necessary work done by the attorney.
Free Legal Assistance
Under the constitution, a lawyer will be provided to you in a criminal case if you are not able afford your own lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer in a civil case, you may resort to legal aid assistance programs or reach out to companies that till take your case as pro-bono