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Need a Lawyer? What to Do When You Can’t Afford Decent Legal Representation

In some cases, when someone needs to obtain a lawyer, it is because they are trying to avoid getting sucked dry financially by a former business partner, an upcoming ex-spouse or someone trying to personally sue you. Investors say it takes money to make money, and lawyers will say that sometimes it is necessary to spend money to save it. There are unfortunate situations where people cannot afford decent legal representation in cases like these, and even worse, there are people who cannot afford any legal representation at all.

Additionally, the examples above are not the only cases where needing a lawyer is important because there are deeply personal reasons like safety and freedom at stake. For example, in a custody case, maybe one party feels their kids really are in danger unless they get custody. Also, despite being given a lawyer in a criminal case, public defenders are not known for offering the best defense. In all of these situations and many others, it takes creativity, especially in civil cases, when it comes to retaining a decent lawyer if a person is broke. Here are four creative ways to get a lawyer in a financial pinch.

Stall the Court to Raise Quick Capital Like a Payday Loan

If there is a case coming up quickly without much financial preparation time, there is a way to stall the court in order to raise some quick capital. The first thing is to show up to court because not showing up can get someone a warrant, contempt of court or a loss by default. In many cases like child protection orders or restraining orders, which are the ones with little prep time, it is not necessary to have an attorney at the first appearance. If the defendant or respondent does not have any money, they need to ask the judge for a continuance on the grounds they are in the process of retaining proper representation. They will usually be given two weeks or 30 days. This is enough time to obtain some quick cash from a same-day loan service, like the payday loans in Texas, in order to hire a lawyer by the next court date.

Visit a Law School

Advanced law students are allowed to represent people as long as they have a licensed instructor and lawyer supervising the case. It provides the student with great experience and the defendant or respondent with adequate representation for a substantial discount or for free. Each state has its own rules for law students, and there are clinics where law students help low-income individuals. It is something that will require research, but the research and legwork may pay off in the end.

Look Into Legal Aid Societies

Legal aid groups are nonprofits, and they are found almost everywhere in the country. They offer greatly reduced or free representation for people who qualify as low-income. Just as a warning, even if someone qualifies as low-income, it does not guarantee representation. is a great website used to connect people with legal aid groups.

Find a Lawyer to Take the Case Pro Bono

If a lawyer decides to take a case pro bono, it means they are going to represent the client for free. This is vastly different than a public defender, and it is not easy to find a lawyer willing to take a case pro bono. A decent lawyer usually likes to get paid for their work, and people do get what they pay for when it comes to lawyers. However, there are cases lawyers will take pro bono because of their uniqueness, personal reasons or high publicity. For example, if a case is going to get a lot of a press, a lawyer may take it as a form of free advertising. Also, there are lawyers who do a certain amount of cases for free on a yearly basis. The tough part is finding one. Contacting the local state or county bar association is the first step. They will give instructions and advice on how to get free or reduced representation in the area.

These are four great ideas to assist someone who greatly needs representation but has no money. None of them are perfect or guaranteed, but they are better than self-representation.

Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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