How to Pay for a Lawyer With No Money: Three Resources

| 6 min read Financial Assistance

When you or a loved one need a lawyer, you might find that legal fees can be overwhelming. Your situation is complex and a lot is at stake — so going without the help of a professional is not an option. But what do you do when you don’t have the money to hire an attorney? This guide walks you through how to pay for a lawyer with no money, so you can get the help that you need.

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How much does a lawyer cost?

The cost of a lawyer depends on a variety of factors:

  • The type and complexity of the case
  • The experience level of the lawyer
  • Your location
  • The fee structure used

Hourly rate

Typical hourly rates for a lawyer range from $255 to $520, though they can be higher or lower depending on the factors above and the specifics of your case. The hourly rate is often applied to every aspect of your case—including things like making photocopies or doing legal research.

Flat fee

Simple cases, such as an uncontested divorce or filing immigration paperwork, can be eligible for a flat fee. These types of straightforward cases are usually in the ballpark of $1,500 to $2,500.

Retainer fee

A retainer is an upfront deposit, from which your lawyer will draw funds on an hourly basis as they work on your case.

Contingency fee

Most common in personal injury cases, your lawyer only gets paid if you win. Contingency fees typically range between 30 to 40% of the settlement amount. The American Bar Association prohibits contingency arrangements for divorce cases, those involving family law, and criminal cases.  

Do lawyers offer payment plans?

Lawyers are not required to offer payment plans, though many choose to do so. Make sure to ask about a payment plan option before meeting with a lawyer for the initial consultation. Some payment plans use a sliding scale that is based on your income and financial obligations.

Get help with legal fees from a legal aid society

How to get help paying for a lawyer can seem like a daunting task, but thankfully many free resources exist. There are programs that will help pay for the cost of a lawyer, cover other legal fees, or offer free legal help. These resources will vary by state. To find out how to get free legal help in your area, start by contacting one of the organizations listed below.

1. Legal Services Corporation

Established by Congress in 1974, the Legal Services Corporation is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide funding for various legal aid services. Currently, LSC funds 134 nonprofit legal aid programs across the United States. Find a federally-funded legal aid program near you using their national database directory.

2. American Bar Association

The American Bar Association provides a list of affordable legal services and nonprofit law firms by state, designed to help you get the legal services you need even if you have no money to pay for a lawyer. They also have a pro bono resource directory that is searchable by state.

Consider raising money for legal fees with online fundraising

Another alternative to finding free legal help or a pro bono lawyer is raising money for legal fees. You can do this easily using crowdfunding, which can help you quickly raise funds for a legal defence. Crowdfunding for legal fees can help relieve some or all of the financial burden of paying for a lawyer.

Crowdfunding can offset expensive attorney fees

For those facing any sort of legal challenge, it can be difficult to ask others directly for help. Crowdfunding provides an alternative that is quick, easy, and avoids those potentially awkward conversations with family and friends. And through sharing your fundraiser on social media, you’re able to expand your network to reach even more people who might be willing to help.

Keep more of your donations with free fundraising

A handful of crowdfunding platforms exist, so it’s important to find one that best fits your needs. Look for a platform that provides customer support and free fundraising resources. And watch out for hidden fees. Compare different platforms to find out which fundraising site has the lowest fees. Luckily, GoFundMe provides free fundraising with a 0% platform fee, so you get to keep more of the money you raise.

Tips for using GoFundMe for legal defence

Starting a fundraiser for legal fees can seem overwhelming, but doesn’t have to be.  Getting help with legal fees means you can stop worrying, and start feeling confident about your future. The following tips will help you create a successful fundraiser.

  • Write your fundraiser story. Tell a powerful story that connects with your audience. This can mean the difference between someone passively viewing your fundraiser, and someone who makes a donation.
  • Share your fundraiser to increase donations. Maximizing your reach is key to an effective fundraiser. Whether sharing on social media or teaming up with a local business, expanding your network will help you see more donations.
  • Reach your goal with the right email template. Email is one of the best ways to raise awareness about your fundraiser. Remove the challenge of asking for help with a compelling email template that inspires others to give to your cause.
  • To make sure crowdfunding is a good fit for your particular legal situation, take a look at our Terms & Conditions.

Examples of people using GoFundMe for legal defence

Countless people have successfully used crowdfunding to relieve the burden of high legal fees. Read a few examples below of how people have used GoFundMe for legal defence.

1. Legal Aid for Mary

In just 11 days, Mary raised more than $5,000 toward her legal defence in a custody battle to keep her children. This money will go toward covering the cost of legal proceedings, as well as pay her lawyer’s retainer fee.

2. Help with legal fees

Kaylyn Dicksion raised almost three times the amount of her fundraising goal to help with her legal fees in a defamation suit. On GoFundMe there are no wait times to receive your funds, so Kaylyn was able to start paying her legal fees right away.

3. Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund

Last year, Peter Ridd raised over $260,000 to cover his legal defence in a trial surrounding academic integrity. Peter’s fundraiser was active for 15 months, and helped cover the cost of an expensive and ongoing trial between himself and James Cook University.

Get help paying legal fees right away

Finding help with legal fees can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Crowdfunding through GoFundMe is a free and easy way to raise the money you need to lift that financial burden. Sign up and start your fundraiser today.

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Written by caitlin