How To Find A Lawyer You Can Afford Or Get One For Free
Lawyers tend to be expensive because, like doctors, when you hire a lawyer you pay for his or her education and expertise as well as the lawyer's time.
However, you may be able to get a discount, negotiate for a lower price than the lawyer's standard price, or even get a laywer's services for free. In any event, as a general matter, the more you prepare for a meeting with a lawyer, the less expensive the legal costs.
Free Legal Services
Free legal services may be available in your local area. Most lawyers do at least some work for free. This is known as working "pro bono". There may also be free legal clinics. To learn more, contact:
- American Bar Association: www.findlegalhelp.org
- Legal Services Corporation: www.lsc.gov/find-legal-aid
- your local bar association or law school. To find contact information for your local bar association, see: abanet.org/barserv/stlobar.html .
- If you have cancer:
Free legal information is also available. See Free Legal Information.
Group Members: Lawyers tend to give discounts for members of a group. Check to see if there is a group to which you belong that qualifies for such a discount. For example, through work, or a fraternal or a religious organization.
Seniors: If you are a senior, discounts are available through AARP's Legal Services Network, www.aarp.org/money/legalissues/lsn . In general, experienced lawyers in the network provide:
- A free initial consultation.
- A discount of 20% off that lawyer's usual rate
- Low fixed rates for simple wills and for powers of attorney.
If you do not fit into either of the above, it cannot hurt to ask a lawyer for a discount (in the form of either a lower hourly fee or a smaller flat fee.) This is one of those times to play the "I'm sick" or "I'm dying" card.
If your situation involves getting you money, for example - from Social Security, ask if the lawyer will work on a contingency basis so he or she only gets paid if you get paid.
For information about hourly charges, flat fees and contingency fees, click here.
If you are not a good negotiator, ask a family member or friend to do it for you).
NOTE: Keep in mind that the more prepared you are for a meeting, and the more work you do yourself, the less work the lawyer has to do - which means a cost savings to you. For example, if you want to write a will with a lawyer, it helps to collect the information the lawyer will ask about before the meeting. See Survivorship A to Z's form: Information for Your Will.