How To Pay For A Lawyer
Where To Find The Money To Pay For A Lawyer?
Many people know that they need a lawyer but don’t know how to pay for a lawyer. The world does not work like it used to 20 plus years ago where everything was word-of-mouth and payments were only made with cash in hand-to-hand transactions. These days, you can pay a lawyer though many different trusted online methods such as LawPay, Zelle, Clio Payments, etc. The question is not “how do I pay for a lawyer?” but its “how do I find the money to pay for a lawyer?”
In the criminal justice system, you get what you pay for and there is no such thing as a pro bono lawyer who is going to take on your case without being paid.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer, it’s a bad idea to base your choice on which lawyer quotes you the lowest fee. These are usually the lawyers who “do it all” or advertise on their website multiple areas of law such as criminal law, family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, etc.
When it comes to criminal law, the outcome of your case can have a drastic effect on the rest of your life so this should be thought of as a major investment. Although cost is a big consideration for most of us, it isn’t the main thing you need to think about when you are looking for the right legal representation.
You need to find the law firm that has the knowledge, experience, skill, and dedication to obtain the very best result possible in your case. It’s important to hire an lawyer or law firm that has successfully handled cases similar to yours, and also has familiarity with, and experience in, the court where your case will be handled. However, if financing is an issue, there are a variety of ways you may be able to come up with the money.
When it comes to timing, the sooner you hire a lawyer the better. Yes, even if the police let you go without a citation, you should still consult and hire a lawyer. In this sense, the criminal justice system can be compared to a baseball game (or most other sports) where there are 9 innings in the game. Eventually, the game will come to an end after the 9th inning and whoever has the least amount of points will lose. In baseball, you start with your best pitcher first and expect them to get through most of the game. Similarly, you want to start your criminal case with the best lawyer right from the very beginning of the case. If you do not, it is difficult for you to wait to hire a lawyer until the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning and expect them to give you the best shot at winning. At that point, it is still beneficial to hire a lawyer to try and tie up the game to get more time in over-time but ultimately that lawyer cannot go back to the innings they missed and dig you out of any hole you are in. The best way to win this game and your criminal case, is to hire the best lawyer first from the very beginning.
Here are some ideas to help you to hire the best possible legal representation, even if you don’t have a lot of money:
1. Finance The Cost
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is one of the most important expenditures you’ll ever make. Even if you need to take out a personal loan aka financing, it’s crucial to hire the right law firm to fight for your legal rights. The investment of hiring a law firm that fits your needs is a long-term investment that will actually save you more money in the long run. There are many financial services available today such as Affirm, Flexxbuy, Client Credit, ePay Legal, etc. Even if you don’t have the best credit score, these finance companies may be willing to offer you a loan.
There are multiple financing companies that we use at Future First Criminal Law so that way you can see the different payment options available to you. It is common practice these days if you have to make a large purchase that you finance the purchase through a loan company. You, or a family member on your behalf, can apply and be approved for the money you need to hire a lawyer in under 5 minutes. The money gets paid directly to the law firm, which makes them happy to work with you and all you need to do is worry about making your monthly payments.
For instance, if you need $8,000 you can apply for the entire loan amount and choose to pay it off in either 6 months, 12 months or 24 months. The monthly payment to pay this off in 6 months is going to average around $1,400 a month. The monthly payment to pay this off in 12 months is going to average around $800 a month. The monthly payment to pay this off in 24 months is going to average around $400 a month.
Yes, the financing company is going to make money off these payments and sometimes there is a high interest rate but again this is an investment. Often times with criminal cases, a solution needs to be worked on immediately in order to get you the best results. So getting money fast is imperative.
2. Ask A Family Member Or A Friend For Help
Chances are, if you’re looking to hire a criminal defense lawyer you are in some kind of trouble, so this is a good time to ask for help if you need to. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Your friends and family are your security blanket. If you know someone who may have the means to help you, don’t be afraid to ask. Explain to your family that the judge has the power to put you in jail and you need help now. You can pay family back later but the judge is not going to wait and you have to hire a lawyer as early as possible.
Life is unpredictable, and many people are struggling to make ends meet. If an emergency comes up, such as being arrested or accused of a crime, you might not have the above options. Where do you turn for help?
Remember, you do not need to tell them any of the details of your arrest. It is hard to not explain your charges to them but most people will respect that you need to maintain confidentiality and can only talk to your lawyer about what happened in your case.
Most law firms, such as Future First Criminal Law, will even allow a family member to pay the law firm directly. This is helpful in situations if your family is concerned that you might not use the money for the intended purpose. The family member who pays does not have any control over the case and all the details of the case will still remain confidential. However, the payment can be discussed with the family member. Likewise, the client still remains in control of hiring and firing the law firm, so the family member cannot turn around and take the money back unless the client ends the relationship with the law firm.
As mentioned above, there are financing companies that your friends and family members can use to apply for loans to pay for your representation. For instance, if the total cost to hire a lawyer is $8,000, then this can be split into multiple different people paying. You can pay $1,000 via credit card, then get financing for another $2,000. One of your parents might also do financing and take a loan for $4,000 since they have better credit than you do. Finally, a close friend can finance the remaining $1,000. The total balance will be paid to the law firm and they will usually wait to receive all the money prior to filing any paperwork with the court. At the end of the day, you are able to hire a law firm and then can work off paying your friends and family.
3. Pay With A Credit Card
If the law firm you are trying to hire does not accept credit cards, then that should be your signal to leave immediately. Credit card processing at law firms is now common practice. This option allows you to combine the above options (financing and borrowing) with the fact that you might have a credit card or two paid off and hidden away for emergency purposes. Well guess what, this is that emergency reason to use your credit card. Yes, you probably just took the last year or two to pay it off month by month, but this is the time to use it again. It is better to pay off a credit card and hire the lawyer you want, than to use that same credit card to pay off court fines and fees.
Many people also consider applying for a new credit card. Most credit card companies will approve you to get a credit card and begin using that card within a few days after being approved. This option is popular because then you do not have to ask for help and if you keep up with the payments you can improve your credit score while in the process of putting your legal situation behind you.
4. Use Your Savings Account
Most people usually have some kind of savings account whether it is for an upcoming vacation or large home appliance purchase. However, most people have been saving that money for so long that they either forgot about it in an old bank account or they think it must be spent on the thing they originally saved it for. That was the plan, but now that you need a criminal lawyer, the plan has changed. It is always better to use your savings account to pay for a lawyer and help your future than to sit on it for years to come and regret not getting the help you needed. The long-term benefit is worth it and this is why using a savings account is beneficial.
5. Use Your Inheritance
A big reason people leave money to family members is that money provides a certain amount of protection and security. Being able to hire a good lawyer if you need one is precisely the kind of situation an inheritance is for. Some people also know that they have an inheritance or trust that will be given to them at a later date. Instead of waiting years to receive the money–now–is the appropriate time to speak with the trust holder to ask them for an advance in your inheritance.
6. Use Your Retirement Fund
Your present circumstances can have a profound effect on your future retirement and career opportunities. If you have a 401k or IRA with your current employer, you may be able to withdraw money from this account. However, doing so is expensive, as you will face a hefty tax on your withdrawal amount, and an early withdraw penalty fee.
A better option is to take out a loan from your 401k. Oftentimes, you can do this with low interest. You will have to pay it back, but you are essentially paying yourself. You should speak with your employer about this.
Many people also have their own investment account for stocks and bonds on virtual apps like Robinhood and eTrade. These are intended to be long-term investment accounts but you might have to consider selling your stocks to get cash in hand.
7. Sell Your Car or Refinance Your House
If you are facing serious jail or prison time, chances are that you won’t be driving or living in your house if you are convicted. It may be a good idea to sell your car or refinance your house. There are a few, if any, law firms that take pink slips as collateral. Remember, your car is replaceable, but your freedom is not. The house mortgage is typically a loan that can be processed and the balance will be spread into a new 30-year term loan.
The hard part about this option is that you will need to quickly sell the car or refinance quickly. This usually means that you might not get as much money for the car as you would if you had more time to wheel and deal on the selling price. Refinancing a house is also not the quickest turn around and can be stressful to complete.
8. Payment Plans
Some law firms offer in-house payment options and will work with you to arrange a plan that you can afford. However, these payment plans usually come with a few major risks. The primary risk is that if you miss a payment, then the firm has the option to withdraw from representation. The payments that the firm offers usually tend to be higher than other financing options. Law firms generally require a minimum of 50% of the retainer amount to be paid “down” and the balance of the retainer paid with a credit card on file for auto-withdraw monthly or bi-weekly.