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Find Affordable Legal Help in the United States

Affordable legal help | Jun 05, 2020


There is an old adage which states that good help is hard to find.  As we go about our daily business that can certainly seem to be the case.  It is inevitable that, in the daily grind of activities like doing business, travel, entertainment, dining out, shopping, maintaining a home, and dealing with serious legal and medical issues, we require a lot of help.  Most often that help is given to us by people who work hard to fulfill any task we give them.  Some do better than others.  Our overall impression of how good that help was often rests on a combination how smoothly things go, how competent person helping us seems to be, their manners, and how favorable an outcome we receive.  The importance of whatever the task is only makes receiving good help all the more critical.  

There are very few matters in life that we need help with more than a legal issue.  Certainly, medical issues are, generally speaking, even more important, but legal matters can be as potentially life-altering as medical ones.  Anyone who has had to face being sent to prison for a term, had someone break a contact with them, been cheated out money they were owed, been in a dispute over an estate, suffered a personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence, gone through a divorce, or fought for custody of a beloved child knows how important a good lawyer is.  Smart legal advice can make the difference between a good outcome in your case and a loss that will cost your freedom, rights, money, and even, perhaps, custody of your child.  Small wonder that people who find themselves in a legal bind feel desperate for affordable legal aid.  

A Need for Affordable Legal Aid

The sad fact is that far too many people who are in need of affordable legal services never receive them.  Everyone knows that defendants in criminal trials have the right an attorney and that, if they can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for them.  How effective overwhelmed public defenders can be remains a matter of debate.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of legal cases are not criminal.  They are civil cases.  In civil cases there is no constitutional right to have an attorney provided for you and yet the stakes are often high for the parties involved.  While it is true that a civil case doesn’t involve the potential loss of freedom, there can be money at stake.  Not to mention that divorce and custody cases have even higher stakes.  The dissolution of a family unit and the custody of children are emotional and highly charged matters.  Affordable legal aid is so important in civil cases and yet it often is out of reach for those who need it most.  

There are some understandable reasons why affordable lawyers can be a scarce commodity.  A legal education is, after all, not something that comes cheap.  Lawyers pay a steep price for their legal education and many these days carry student loan debt.  There is also the simple fact that expertise of any sort doesn’t usually come cheap.  Every professional works hard and pays for an education in order to gain the knowledge that is required to help people with complex issues.  This is true of doctors, accountants, architects, lawyers or any other professional.  Generally speaking, hiring a professional to advise you is expensive because their advice is valuable.  So where does that leave the average person without a lot of money who is need of affordable legal advice?  

The legal profession is not blind to the great need that exists for affordable legal aid.  The Legal Services Corporation is an independent, publicly-funded non-profit organization which, in 2016, reported that 86% of civil legal needs for America’s poor went unmet.”  They further stated that, “71% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the last year, including problems with health care, housing conditions, disability access, veterans’ benefits, and domestic violence.

 

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Filling the Need for Affordable Legal Advice

In fact, many lawyers feel a real calling to use their legal knowledge to help people who need legal guidance but cannot afford to pay the high hourly rates lawyers command.  Many even seek ways to give free legal advice.  While the unfortunate stereotype of lawyers depicts them as focused on how much money they can bill, the reality is quite different.  Every day lawyers do complex and challenging work with the goal of helping people who are not wealthy or privileged.  They feel strongly that justice and the legal system should not belong only to the well-off.  To that end, various methods of delivering affordable legal services have been developed.    

Free legal clinics have long offered affordable legal advice for those in need of it.  They are typically run by law schools.  The law schools provide law students, who are looking for some real-world experience, the chance to interact with real clients and help them with their legal issues.  The students are supervised by experienced, licensed attorneys.  The clinics provide free or low-cost services to their clients.  Legal clinics are an important resource, though some people are reluctant to use them because an inexperienced law student will be handling their case.      

There are also a number of non-profit legal organization through-out the United States.  They provide legal services to poor and low-income Americans on a pro bono (or free) basis.  These non-profit organizations are responsible for providing free or low-cost legal advice to thousands of people.  They are usually funded by a combination of government grants and donations.  It is important to note that they usually have a certain threshold of income for their clients.  They cannot accept clients whose income is above that threshold.  This means that such non-profits cannot help everyone who is in need of affordable legal aid.  

One new and innovative way to find affordable lawyers is group legal services plans.  Such plans offer people the chance to enroll in a legal services plan for a monthly fee, which may cost less than twenty dollars a month.  Most people don’t have hundreds of dollars to pay in order to ask basic legal questions.  With group legal services plans, you can ask unlimited questions for a small monthly fee.  It is a good resource for those seeking affordable legal services.  Of course, if you are an average person of modest means, you may not have repeated legal issues.  You may not want to pay a monthly fee for a one-time legal issue, such as divorce.  

A more traditional way for those without a great deal of money at their disposal to obtain free legal advice is to find an individual attorney who is willing to take your case pro bono.  Pro bono is a noble and long-established practice in the legal community.  Many attorneys pride themselves on dedicating a portion of their practice to providing free or low-cost legal advice where needed.  Many law firms, small and large, encourage their attorneys to take on a certain percentage of pro bono cases.  It is always balanced with need (and often the overriding desire) to keep firms as profitable as they may be but it is possible to get affordable legal advice in this way.   However, it can be a bit of a challenge to search online and off and find an individual attorney who will take your case pro bono.  

Those are some common and established methods for people who need affordable legal services.  There advantages and disadvantages to them and they may not be helpful to everyone.  Fortunately, we live in time that is defined by innovation and flexibility.  It is a digital age where connections are a few virtual clicks away.  There are new methods of providing affordable legal help being created in this environment.  

Affordablelegalhelp.com- Blazing a New Trail in Affordable Legal Services

At affordablegalhelp.com, we have looked at the problem of ensuring equal access to the legal system for all people, regardless of income, and worked to create a new system.  We are dedicated to matching people who are in serious need of solid legal advice with affordable, experienced lawyers who can help them with their case.  We understand that legal advice represents the solution to a particular problem (for example, getting a divorce settlement that is fair) but it creates another problem.  That problem is one of money.  You have to come up with the money (which you may not have) in order to get the legal advice you need to solve your legal problem.  It is that complex relationship between the need and the cost that we have attempted to find a solution for.  

The solution begins with using technology for the benefit of clients who are looking for affordable lawyers.  Thanks to the miracle of the internet it is possible to create a large network of talented, experienced attorneys.  The attorneys in our network come from all over the United States.  They are carefully vetted to ensure that they are qualified to provide the highest caliber of legal advice to their clients.  They share in our mission to assist everyone who needs help with their legal problems, regardless of how much money they are able to pay.  Our attorneys are professional and friendly.  They make sure that they maintain close contact with their clients and they have good communication skills.  They are hardworking and go to bat for you.  

When you look for an attorney to provide you with legal advice there is another matter besides the cost to consider.  It is so important to find a local attorney.  A local attorney is important because, in order to give the best possible legal advice, they need to have a thorough understanding of state law and be licensed to practice in your state.  You could ask any attorney online about your case but only one familiar with the laws of your state, the local courts, and the judges and clerks who work in those courts can truly give you the best legal advice.  Also, a local attorney will be available to meet with you face to face and to go to court with you, if necessary.  That is why we have worked so hard to build such a large network of local attorneys who will be there for you, wherever you are.  

 

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Family Law- the Heart of Our Mission

There are a number of areas of law that can have a serious and lasting effect on a person’s life.  A defendant in a criminal case faces the potential of losing their freedom.  In a personal injury case one party needs to be made whole after the actions of the other party causes them harm.  In a contract dispute there can be a significant sum of money involved.  Out of all the areas of law, perhaps none is as emotional as family law.  When a divorce happens it often means the dissolution of a family.  It means the end of a close partnership that was supposed to last a lifetime.  Sometimes people believe that their divorce will be amicable and that they can handle it themselves.  It is always better to at least have a lawyer available to answer your questions.  

When there are children involved the process of getting a divorce becomes even more complicated.  Few legal matters can generate more emotion than deciding on custody of a child.  It is always best when parents can work out custody arrangements for themselves but it simply doesn’t always happen that way.  Far too often working out custody is a painful process that ends up in court when the child’s parents can’t agree on what is best for the child.  When it is custody of your child that is at stake you want to have the best affordable legal aid that you can get.    In addition, child support is a significant and complex legal issue that is often a serious bone of contention between the parties.  When one parent has custody of a child and the other has to pay support the court must not only order the child support but also enforce it if the payments aren’t made.  

Adoption and grandparent’s rights are two other important areas of family law that require affordable legal aid.  Adoption can be a joyful occasion when it creates a new family.  It can also be painful when it involves terminating the rights of a biological parent who isn’t able to be a responsible and loving parent.  Grandparents rights come into play when grandparents seek to gain custody of their grandchildren or want visitation rights.  It goes without saying that affordable legal advice is crucial in both adoption and grandparent’s rights cases.

At affordablelegalhelp.com we understand what is stake in family law cases.  We know how overwhelming it can be to face filling out the required legal documents for a divorce, custody, or adoption.  We know how intimidating it can be to go to court, particularly if you are forced to represent yourself.  That is why this is area of the law that we are focused on is family law now.  We connect people who need affordable legal advice regarding their family law cases with attorneys who can help you handle your case using a new approach to paying- unbundled legal services.  

Unbundled Legal Services- A New Concept

If you truly want to make legal services affordable for the average person you need to get creative.  Most people simple cannot afford to pay the traditional hourly fees that experienced lawyers charge for their services.  It can feel to them as though getting the affordable legal advice that they need is out of reach.  That means a new approach is needed.  A way to break legal services down and make the fees manageable for those that need them.  That is at the heat of unbundled legal services.  Below is a breakdown of the unbundled legal services that the attorneys on our website offer.     

To begin with, it is useful to explore the issue of how lawyers have traditionally been paid for their services.  It usually depends on the type of case.  Very often a lawyer will charge a fixed or flat fee for a type of service, such as preparing estate planning documents.  Others will charge an hourly rate and the cost of legal services will depend on the number of hours an attorney spends working on your case.  In personal injury cases the most common type of payment is a contingency fee.  In contingency fee cases the attorney receives and certain percentage of whatever amount of money they recover for their client.  This means that when they recover nothing for their clients, they receive nothing.  Finally, there are retainer fees.  Attorneys receive retainer fees as advances against future legal work and agree to be available for their client when legal issues arise.  

 

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A Fresh Approach to Paying for Legal Advice

In comparison to the more traditional methods of payments for legal services mentioned above, the concept of unbundled legal services a fairly new one.  It was Forrest Mosten, a law professor from UCLA, who introduced the concept in 2000.  His area of specialty was family law and mediation.  This is legal area that is also the focus of many of attorneys here at Affordable Legal Help.  Mosten was motivated by his understanding of both the need for people caught up in family law issues to receive solid legal advice and the difficulty many of them have when it comes to paying for those services.  Seeing this, he looked for a new system of payment that would allow them to receive the legal advice they needed and act on it without having to pay quite as much for it.  

Unbundled Legal Services-  Á la Carte Payment

The duties of a lawyer are many.  There are a lot of details to attend to in any case.  An attorney functions in many different ways.  Some clients and some cases require a legal expert for different things.  Why should a client have to pay for services that they don’t need?  That is at the heart of unbundled legal services.  It allows the client to select, ? la carte style, from a menu of legal services.  They need not hire an attorney for complete representation at a higher price but get specific help.  For example, a client may be going to court with the intention of representing themselves but be concerned about following proper court procedure.  With unbundled legal services they could hire an attorney to advise them on court procedure ahead of time.  This would help them more effectively represent themselves but cost less than paying an attorney to represent them in court.  Another example would be hiring an attorney for the limited purpose of reviewing legal documents that you wrote yourself.  It is clear that, at times, unbundling legal services can save a client money while providing them with valuable legal advice.  That is why we, at Affordable Legal Help, support the use of unbundled legal services.    

Process of Approval

While there are advantages to unbundled legal services, it is still a new concept.  Critics have several issues with lawyers engaging with clients on an unbundled basis.  Some criticize the idea of attorneys, who have a duty of candor to the court, working behind the scenes and advising clients who appear in court without appearing in court themselves.  Other critics believe that legal ghostwriting gives clients an unfair advantage because judges are more lenient with those appearing without counsel.  Some critics feel that unbundled legal services are generally bad because they treat the law as a commodity and cheapen it.  Because of those concerns it has been a process to gain state approval for it across the United States.  More and more states have approved it and, in 2007, the American Bar Association officially allowed it under the ABA’s ethical rules.  Now it is up to the client and the attorney to establish the method of payment and the services on a case by case basis.  At Affordable Legal Help we can help you find the right attorney for your case with a payment method and services that are right for you.


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Get the Affordable Legal Advice You Need

When two people get married, they make a commitment that is meant to be for life.  When they have children, they are bound together through life-long commitment to those children.  The truth is that things do not always work out the way they should.  Life happens, problems arise, and strong emotions can change things over time.   We all want to live happily ever after but that isn’t always the way things go.  When it comes time to end a marriage getting free or affordable legal advice is crucial to preserving your rights and dividing property fairly.  When a child’s parents get divorced it is critical to the welfare of that child to ensure there is an appropriate custody arrangement that is respected by both parties.  It is also important to make sure that there is a child support plan in place that will ensure the child or children have financial support.  Adoption and grandparent’s rights cases are also legally complex.  If you are involved in any of these situations and need affordable legal advice, contact us today.  Give us your information and we can connect you with a local lawyer who will help you protect your legal rights at price you can afford.