What if I can’t afford to pay my lawyer up front?
It depends on your situation. Many lawyers demand up front payment because they want to protect themselves before beginning work work for a client. They’ll typically discuss all the expected costs, and make sure everyone understands everything. A lawyer take a retainer up front, especially for clients who don’t have an established history of making payments.
If you can’t pay the money upfront, you really need to speak to your attorney. If you seem trustworthy, your attorney may agree to take on your case. In most cases, you’ll have to prove to the attorney you’ll have the money – and will be able to pay him back at a later day. Many divorce lawyers will ask for collateral, in lieu of a payment. If you have a credit card – they may ask you to make a payment on your credit card – so they can get some form if payment immediately.
Many lawyers will try to work out a reasonable payment plan in order to get you the legal help you want. In the event you simply have no cash – because your spouse won’t give you the money, you should explain this to the attorney. If the attorney believes once you get the money, you’ll pay him – then he may help you. In some cases, the attorney may ask for some form of collateral to show your serious about hiring him/her. Some attorneys may be willing to convert your case to a contingency fee basis. They may agree to work, in exchange for money at a later point.
Many clients run into financial difficulties, and make promises and don’t pay later. Some may decide to hide it from their lawyers. If a lawyer is working with you – with the misguided notion he/she will be paid later – you may regret this. When the truth comes out he or she will not only be mad, but will stop representing you. In some cases, the lawyer may even sue you. While most lawyers don’t like suing their clients – most will want to know the truth, so they can work out something. Lawyers don’t want to feel like they are being taken advantage of.
If you cannot find an attorney who will help you, you may want to reach out to a recently graduated law school student. Many law school students are looking for experience, and are willing to work for you – for free, or for very little compensation. They are looking for experience, and they can help you – while you help them.