7 Great Alternatives For When You Can’t Afford An Attorney

7 Great Alternatives For When You Can’t Afford An Attorney

June 29, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

How many times have you heard that there are too many lawyers in America? Or lawyers complaining about how saturated the market is and what a hard time they are having acquiring clients? Countless times!

And yet, in most states, for about 90% of litigants, the legal system is impossible to navigate because they can’t afford an attorney. In most cases, not having legal representation has dramatic effects on the outcome and ruling. Most criminal defendants can’t afford an attorney, and only those who get incarcerated are entitled to appointed legal counsel.

If, unfortunately, you have found yourself entangled in the legal system, you may have found out that lawyers require a lot of money in retainer fees even before they take up your case.

Now that you have already established you can’t afford an attorney, how do you go about your case? In this guide, we’ll give you seven alternatives that you can consider, and one of them may possibly help you.

Hire a Layer on a Contingency Basis

Even if you can’t afford an attorney, you may be able to get one on a contingency basis. Contingency means that a lawyer will ask for no fees until they win your case for you.

Once that happens, they take a share of the settlement amount you get in court as payment. If you lose the case, they don’t get any payment at all.

However, not all lawyers agree to these terms, and your case needs to have a high chance of winning. For insurance, if you’re suing for personal injuries from an accident or have a medical malpractice lawsuit that could win thousands of dollars, you can find a lawyer to represent you on contingency terms.

Find a Pro Bono Lawyer

You’ve probably heard pro bono numerous times, even in movies. Pro bono is a Latin phrase, which should actually be pro bono Publico, which means for the public good.

It means representation by lawyers for reduced or no cost at all, in order to avail services to people who cannot afford legal counsel.

You see, all lawyers have an ethical responsibility to donate a certain amount of their time to pro bono cases each year. It’s not a law in most states, and it’s not something they must do, but they are taught it’s the right thing to do since everyone deserves a fair trial, so most of them do it. Still, finding pro bono lawyers could take some time and may prove to be challenging, but you may get lucky, so looking for one is worth a try.

Check Law School Clinics

It’s possible for you to get free legal advice from law school clinics, or at the very least, at a very low cost. One of the best parts of trying your luck in law school clinics is the fact that there is always a chance that, depending on your case, they could refer you to a law firm that could take your case at low costs or free.

Law schools always hold clinics so that law students can gain credits when they help clients with real-life legal issues. Sometimes they do this through the phone, and other times in person and even if they don’t offer you much else apart from advice, it could really help your case. Some law schools offer very specific niche clinics, and you may be able to find exactly what you’re looking for or get legal representation from the students.

Look for Free Consultations

Most law firms offer free consultations to see whether clients are a good match for them. The best part is, during these consultations, the lawyers will navigate your case and discuss what they would if they were to take up your case. Even if you can’t afford their services, their advice and direction may be all you need for your case.

You may leave the office with a better understanding of your case and with as little information about where to go, who to see, what step to take next, and what mistakes to avoid. Of course, free consultations are usually to see whether the lawyer and the client would have a possible good working relationship and whether the lawyer can win their case, but you can use that free time with an expert to your advantage.

Check Whether You Qualify for a Court-Appointed Lawyer

Court-appointed lawyers are not always the most ideal, but if you can’t afford an attorney, you may not have much choice. Besides, not all legal situations qualify for court-appointed lawyers. Even if you’re entitled to one, you must prove that you can’t afford a lawyer.

Different states have different ways of determining whether you deserve an appointed lawyer or not. For instance, if there is a chance you may end up in prison, you may get an appointed lawyer. If your financial situation in which case they consider your income, does not allow you to get a lawyer, then you may also get one.

If you feel you fall in the category that permits you to get a court-appointed lawyer, request for one from the judge. They will make considerations and decide whether you deserve one or not.


Some lawyers work part-time for charities or represent certain populations. For instance, you’ll find that certain lawyers decide to work with specific professionals, such as artists, musicians, writers, and the like. Similarly, there are those lawyers that work with certain socioeconomic backgrounds for charitable reasons.

In this case, you’ll find a lawyer that will work for you at a very low fee, or completely free. These charities exist to ensure that vulnerable people, or people who can’t afford an attorney get the right legal representation they deserve. You will get a free consultation and discuss whether your case has merit before they decide to represent you.

Represent Yourself

This is a last option because navigating the legal system is scary, daunting, and challenging. Once you come across the lawyers representing the other party, you’re likely to cower because lawyers can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re dealing with an insurance company. If you choose to represent yourself or have no other choice, do thorough research, take those free consultation, and the free advice from the legal clinics before you embark on your journey.

Alternatively, if you have a very promising case, you can get legal funding. Understanding legal funding is imperative in this case because it’ll help you get the funds to hire a professional lawyer who will fight for your case. Once you win, you’ll use the settlement funds to settle the proceeds.

These Are Your Options When You Can’t Afford an Attorney

If you can’t afford an attorney, you can always try these options. One of them is surely going to work for you before you can decide to go to court on your own. Look hard, take as much as help as is offered, and absorb as much information as you can.

If you need any more legal help, please head to our blog section, where we have so much more for you.