What If I Cannot Afford An Attorney? Are There Ways to Finance Legal Fees?

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Yes.  However, if you choose to use credit, you should be consider the cost of fees and interest and make a careful decision as to the importance of hiring an attorney for your legal matter.

If you cannot afford the retainer your attorney is asking for, there are ways to obtain financing for the costs of professional representation.  Financing is available for people with good credit scores, mediocre credit scores, and no credit at all.  Some attorneys accept credit cards.  Most attorneys accept payments from third parties, such as from a friend or relative of yours (although in some situations there are ethical issues involved with third party payments of legal fees).  Finally, there are lenders who who specifically make loans to cover the costs of the borrower's legal fees.

Some examples of legal fee lending resources include the following:

These are just a few examples, and the fact they are listed does not suggest they are the right choice for you or preferable to other financing services available.  As with all forms of credit, fees and interest rates will be charged and the expense of borrowing will be dependant on your credit score.  A person needing to finance attorney fees should consider whether their matter is important enough to incur debt.  If after careful consideration it is adviseable to hire legal counsel for your situation by borrowing funds, lenders can be found in a phone book or on a search engine.

Depending on your credit score, you may be able to obtain financing between $2000 and $20,000, or more.  Some lenders offer up to a year or more with 0% interest if you credit score is high enough.

Oftentimes, hiring professional representation will save you time and money in the long run, and seeking counsel may preserve your rights.  For example, if you wait too long to file your case, you may lose your rights by operation of a state or federal statute of limitations.  Or, if you proceed pro se (representing yourself), you may lose a good case that an attorney might have more effectively handled.  On the other hand, utilizing various forms of credit to obtain legal counsel may stretch a person's finances and cause her to incur future financial hardships.

In conclusion, there may be options available to you and you should ask your attorney about financing services her firm provides, in addition to your own research. But, caution should be exercised should you choose to be involved in any credit extension program.

From the author: Nichols & Rabuck, P.C.
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