Figuring out how to navigate the legal world while dealing with a case of your own is stressful enough without having to worry about how you’re going to pay for everything. Unfortunately, legal council can get quite expensive, and many people forego appropriate representation simply because they cannot afford it. Other people go into debt trying to pay fees that are well beyond their means, which can be disastrous if they do not win their case or get a settlement in the end. But how can clients find affordable legal help? What are their options?

To find the answer to this question, we turned to our legal professionals, who have tons of experience working with customers to ensure that their cases are handled well without putting too much strain on the bank. There are a number of different options to make hiring a lawyer affordable, which may or may not be a good option for you. Below, you will find the three most common strategies our lawyers use to make sure their clients are getting good representation, but that the firm still gets paid for their hard work.

Pro-Bono Work

The first thing most people think of when they consider the possibility of affordable legal council is to look for pro-bono work. This is when the lawyer works for free, as a form of charity. Pro-bono work can have many benefits for legal professionals, including a reputation as a giving and community-oriented firm. Many states’ bar associations actually require firms to do some amount of pro-bono work. However, working for free too much can be bad for a firm’s bottom line, and the reality is that law firms need to be paid to survive. For this reason, pro-bono work is often limited to only the most hardline cases, and clients are referred for pro-bono services by social workers and other professionals who can assess their needs. This means that finding pro-bono work should not be a goal of the average client; it is reserved for those who truly cannot afford to pay.

Sliding Scales

Another option that many law firms offer for disadvantaged clients is a sliding scale pay rate for those who cannot afford full price. Of course, lawyers cost as much as they do for good reason; their expertise is valuable and it takes a lot of work to become a lawyer. However, for those clients who have been wronged and really can’t afford the full price for legal representation, many law firms offer a sliding scale payment that takes their financial needs and abilities into consideration. Just because you can’t afford the full price doesn’t mean you should turn away from seeking legal help.

Payment Plans

Another option for those who can’t afford legal fees up front is a payment plan. Most law firms will allow you to pay for your service over time, in small installments, so that you aren’t charged a ton up front. This may mean that you are paying for legal help long after you need it anymore, but for many that is a fair trade to receive the best possible legal representation. In addition, most legal firms are pretty forgiving about their payment plans; so long as you are making regular payments as best you can and not abusing the system, they’re willing to work with you to ensure that the bills get paid without over-taxing your finances.

Pay-at-settlement Agreements

While this might not be plausible for all types of legal representation, there are some law firms that only collect payment if and when they win your case or find a settlement for you. In this situation, the law firm only takes a cut from the final amount you are due, and you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket up front. Initial consultations are often free of charge too, so be sure to check with multiple different law firms to ensure you’ve found one that is both well suited to you, and able to work with your budget needs.

Use of Paralegals

Finally, a tip for the legal professionals looking for ways to cut down on cost. Para-legals are lawyers in training who are often looking for real-world experience to complete their law school education. They have expertise in the field, but because they do not yet have full credentials, hiring them to do some of the less complicated tasks can save a ton of money, which can be passed on to the clients. Plus, it means you can keep an eye on who’s coming up in your sector of the legal world, and find promising new lawyers before they’ve been hired elsewhere. It’s a win-win for all involved.

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