How to Find and Afford a Lawyer

Legal fees vary widely; don’t be surprised if your attorney charges from $150-$500 per hour. Rates vary by specialty, experience, region, and business model.

If you are accused of a crime, the U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to be represented by a lawyer in any case in which you could be incarcerated for six months or more. State constitutions may guarantee that right for lesser crimes.

People do not have a right to a free lawyer in civil legal matters. Several “legal aid” programs offer inexpensive or free legal services to those in need. Most legal aid programs have special guidelines for eligibility, often based on where you live, the size of your family, and your income.

Some cities have non-profit organizations that provide legal services for specific issues, like the Southwest Women’s Law Center. If you have such an organization in your area, consider asking them to take your case.

Departments and agencies of both the state and federal governments often have staff lawyers who can help the general public in limited situations, without charge. Consider contacting the relevant agency if you have specific concerns.

Many states provide resources for people who are representing themselves, which is called “pro se.” Consider contacting the court in your area and ask a clerk what support the court can provide for pro se litigants.

If you can’t afford full representation, you might be able to get “limited” or “unbundled” legal services. This provides you with a way to reduce cost by doing some work yourself, with the advice or consultation services of an attorney.

Lawyers also use different fee arrangements from hourly, to “contingent fee,” to a “late fee.” Some lawyers may also allow you to create a payment plan.

To raise money for legal fees, a crowdfunding website called “Funded Justice” will help you create a fundraising campaign.

Bar associations in most communities make referrals according to specific areas of law, helping you find a lawyer with the right experience and practice concentration.

The Birth Rights Bar Association makes referrals to attorneys who are willing to work on birth justice cases. When we don’t have an attorney in your jurisdiction, please encourage your attorney to consult with BRBA to ensure that the unique issues related to childbirth and midwifery are considered.

Have a Plan! The Birth Rights Bar Association’s Top Recommendation for Staying Safe Legally

#1 – Do not say anything until you talk to a lawyer

a- Comply only with requirements for administrative investigation

i. don’t say more than you need

ii. don’t try to help investigators

b- Know the limits to criminal investigation

i. Don’t let anyone into your house without a warrant
ii.If someone insists on searching say “I do not consent to a search”

Downloadable File: 

PDF iconHandoutHowtoFindandAffordaLawyer.pdf

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