How to Pay For a Lawyer: Financing Options For Legal Fees

Legal Fees and Attorney Retainer Fees: Best Financing Options (2019)

When engaging the services of a lawyer or a law firm, one of the first questions that often arises is whether you can afford the attorney’s fees.

Paying for a lawyer can be expensive, but there are several options available that can help you pay for your legal fees.

When you are in a legal predicament or facing legal issues, lawyers are extremely helpful and can help you navigate and understand your situation.

 Selecting the right lawyer can also significantly affect the outcome of your case.  This is why it is important to hire a lawyer or engage a lawyer or law firm that is experienced in handling the legal issues that you are facing.

Before hiring a lawyer or a law firm, you should first understand the type of fees you will charged, and how your lawyers will compute them.  This will help you understand how much the services will likely cost.

How do Lawyers Bill their Clients?

It is always important to know how your lawyer or the law firm will charge you for their services before signing on. Most lawyers and law firms charge fees in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Hourly Rate

The hourly rate is the most common method of billing for most professionals, consultants, and lawyers. Lawyers favor this method because it is relatively straightforward and allows them to get paid when they work on your case.

The number of hours charged will be determined by how much time your lawyer or the law firm spends on your case. Billable hours can be the time spent on analyzing files and documents, court appearances, and communications with the other side, and any other task that advances your case.

Sophisticated clients often require their lawyers to specify exactly what kinds of activities the lawyer can charge for, and what kinds of activities cannot be charged.  These contractual documents are often called “billing guidelines”, and can be very useful in preventing overbilling and other fights about money with your attorneys.

Hourly rates can significantly differ between lawyers and law firms depending on location, years of experience, specialization, or educational background.

If your attorney will charge you hourly rates, it is important to ask for an estimate of how much it will cost for their services in order that you can financially prepare ahead and make a well-informed decision of your choice.

  1. Flat or Fixed Fee

Lawyers and law firms can also propose a flat or fixed fee when they have a good idea about the scope of work involved in your matter. Flat or fixed fees are commonly offered for actions like the preparation of wills, real estate transactions, uncontested divorces, or bankruptcy filings.

  1. Retainer Fee

Some lawyers and law firms also require a retainer fee at the beginning of the engagement. A retainer fee is often used as a downpayment for the fees and expenses related to the opening of your case or legal action. In other cases, a retainer fee is a kind of security deposit that will be used if you are not able to pay subsequent invoices.

  1. Contingency Fees

Contingency fees are for select cases like debt collection cases, personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases, or other types of cases that involve recovering money from someone else.

You, as a client, most often do not need to pay your lawyer or the law firm until the case is resolved in your favor. Most often, you will not owe anything if your case is not successful.

After the conclusion of your case, your lawyer or law firm will take a percentage of the settlement or the money awarded to you from your case. There are certain limits to how much a lawyer or a firm can take as a contingency fee, and typically ranges from 25 to 40 percent of the amount awarded to you.

  1. Other Expenses

Aside from the attorney’s fees you need to pay, there may be additional expenses you have to consider before pursuing legal action. These expenses can depend on what type of case you are pursuing. These fees may include court fees, travel expenses, expert witness fees, or investigator fees.

What Are Your Options When Paying For Attorney Fees?

It is often expensive to hire an attorney, but what if you are not able to pay those fees in advance? Fortunately, there are several options available to finance your legal fees.

Your lawyer can help you find solutions and options for you to finance your legal fees. Some lawyers may even help you apply for a loan on your behalf.

  1. Personal Loan

The first option when financing for your legal fees is to take out a personal loan. This is extremely helpful when you want to finance your legal action and plan to pay it back in monthly installments over a predetermined period of time, or add the fees to amount due on your mortgage loan.

  1. Credit Cards

Many lawyers accept credit card payments, and another option would be using your credit cards to fund your legal action.  With expensive interest rates for credit cards, be sure to pay your monthly statements before the amount due skyrockets.

  1. Legal Payment Plans

In some instances, you can propose to your lawyer or law firm to set up a payment plan that will help you pay for the legal cost of your case. Lawyers and law firms are often accommodating toward payment plans, and you should feel confident to ask them about this option.

  1. Crowdfunding

A relatively new option for financing legal fees is crowdfunding and popular platforms like Gofundme or Kickstarter to search for funding for their legal cases. This option is popular for public causes legal action against a negligent company or legal recourse for environmental preservation.

Be aware that most crowdfunding platforms require you to publicly announce and talk about your legal problems.  Many people do not want to do that.  Thankfully, there is completely confidential solution available called GroupFund Legal.

  1. Family and Relatives

Another option is to ask for help from your friends, family, and relatives. This is one of the best options to finance your legal fees.

In order to easily divide up your legal fees among several friends and family members, consider using the GroupFund Legal application.  The app will take care of all the emailing and cost-splitting for you and your attorney, letting you and your attorney focus on getting the best result possible.

Things You Need to Know Before Financing Your Legal Fees

If you are considering using one of the many financing options available to help you cover the cost of your legal fees, you need to know the information that your lawyer or law firm is required to tell you before you proceed.

As previously noted, lawyers can help you find financing options for our legal fees.  

In fact, they can even make recommendations for specific financing companies.

When your lawyers recommend a financing firm, they are obligated to tell you if they have a stake in that financing firm or if they will otherwise be getting additional compensation.  Be sure to ask before proceeding, in order that you are informed of your options before you make a decision.

Your lawyer or law firm is obligated to ensure that the terms in your financing are fair, reasonable, and in your best interest. Lawyers are also required to disclose any additional fee that might arise due to your financing method.

Also, whenever you are financing your legal fees through a loan, keep in mind that the financial relationship remains between you and the lender, and you will have to make payment even if your case is not successful.

Conclusion

study has shown that more than 75 percent of low-income and mid-income individuals have legal needs that cannot be addressed due to their financial situation, but that should not be the case.

An individual’s financial situation should not hinder them from finding the best option or legal recourse available. This is why it is important to know what are your choices when it comes to financing your legal fees.

Having a fair amount of freedom through financing will help you more easily choose the lawyer you want to hire, and take actions to ensure that your case resolves in your favor.