I Need a Lawyer but Can’t Afford One. What Should I Do?

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Americans across the country are not in the best financial position at the current moment. In fact, for many years, a large majority of Americans have been living paycheck to paycheck.

This means when a large emergency arises, the typical person might not have enough money to cover the costs they need to handle. This is certainly true of particular legal situations.

If you’ve found yourself thinking ‘I need a lawyer but can’t afford one,’ you might be stricken with feelings of anxiety or panic. It’s important to understand that you still have options.

What should you do if you need legal aid but can’t afford it? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.

How to Hire a Lawyer with No Money


The help of an attorney can mean a lot during a difficult legal case. An experienced attorney might be all but required for you to navigate the murky legal waters ahead.

Their experience and know-how can help you to make it through your case logistically, develop a strategy, and seek the kind of outcome you want. An experienced attorney can be a shoulder to lean on and a guide through a world you don’t know much about.

If you can’t afford one, there are options that might be available to you that should be strongly considered.

Court Appointed Attorney

You are likely familiar with Miranda Rights from hearing that so often repeated in various films and television shows. “If you cannot afford an attorney, one might be provided to you.”

This is true in some cases but not all. Generally speaking, this is true in cases where the stakes are high. If you are facing criminal charges and cannot afford a lawyer for your case, you will likely be able to exercise your right to obtain a court-appointed attorney.

This right grew out of the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution and became a central part of criminal law sometime around the early sixties when a court case of a poor man versus a state attorney was deemed unfair. Everyone has a right to a fair trial, and often that means equal representation.

Once a person is arrested, they can request an attorney’s help. The court will assign an attorney to the case and they will join the defendant at their first hearing, which usually takes place within twenty-four hours of the arrest itself.

Most of the time, these court-appointed attorneys are known as Public Defenders. Public Defenders are state-paid attorneys who handle large caseloads and represent individuals who cannot afford to get legal help themselves.

They do not often have the reach, the time, or the budget of a private law firm. They will, however, often do their best to fight for their clients and ensure they get the best possible outcome for their case.

However, getting a court-appointed attorney is likely only possible in cases where one is facing criminal charges. If you are hoping to bring a case forward against someone else but don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, you might be in a trickier situation.

Pro Bono Representation

However, there are some attorneys out there who are willing to help those who are in need financially. Many attorneys will offer some form of ‘pro bono’ representation. Simply stated, this is a free service for those in need.

Sound too good to be true? It isn’t, though you may need to jump through a few hoops to connect yourself to the help you need. Many cities have pro bono legal clinics that allow those in need to come in and get legal help.

Some clinics or organizations focus on certain types of cases, going out of their way to help sexual assault victims or other at-risk groups that might not be able to afford to pursue charges against more powerful defendants.

In order to qualify for many pro bono attorney services, you might need to be able to show proof of income under a certain level or meet other qualifications. In other cases, you might be able to get free attorney service if the compensation for the case goes to supporting the legal clinic or firm.

It’s a good idea to look up legal aid organizations in your area if you think that you might qualify for free help.

Lawyers That Charge No Up-Front Costs

Even if you have no money in your account at this moment, it may not actually be an impediment to your getting help from an experienced attorney. All you might need is a strong case.

Many experienced attorneys won’t actually require you to pay them anything upfront. Many won’t require you to pay anything at all unless they help win your case, in which case their payments can come out of your total compensation package.

There are many attorneys, such as those at tiemannlawfirm.com, who are happy to take a free initial legal consultation with a client. They won’t charge you with any bills until your case is over, and many only take on cases they can feel as if they can definitely win.

I Need a Lawyer But Can’t Afford One


No one wants to be in the situation where they have to keep shouting ‘I need a lawyer but can’t afford one’ as a cry for help. Luckily, if you can’t afford an attorney, there are still plenty of options you can pursue, with the above being some of the major pathways.

Need more legal advice or information? Keep scrolling our blog for more.

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