How to Get Legal Help When You Can’t Afford a Lawyer

When you hire an attorney, it’s hard to avoid letting your finances get out of hand.

If you are being sued by someone, an ex-spouse, a former business partner, or some other kind of adversary, you will very likely need a lawyer to protect you and your assets.

If you are dealing with a criminal case, the court will appoint you a lawyer if you cannot afford to pay for a private attorney. If you are dealing with a civil case, chances are good you are going to get a little bit creative.

Look to Legal Aid Societies

Legal aid societies are non profit organizations found all over the country that provide free legal service to low-income people.

While this is definitely an option worth looking into, the problem for many households is that they make too much money to qualify for this kind of legal help.

Even if you are low income, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily get legal aid.

According to a report from 2017, 86 percent of civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help in the previous year.

Visit your local law school

If you don’t want to spend the money to get a lawyer, consider consulting a law student for advice.

While students obviously can’t practice law on their own, several states do allow students to practice law with the advisement of a faculty member.

Student practice rules vary by state, so what you are allowed to do depends on where you live.

Many law school clinics represent low-income individuals too, and so once again, you may make too much money to qualify. Still, that’s not always the case.

Contact Your County or State Bar Association

Once you find someone who is willing to wok with you, ask if there are any ongoing projects for pro bono legal help or reduced fee help.

These rules also also vary depending on what state you are operating in and much of this also depends on how active the state and local bar is in reaching out to these kinds of clients.

Consider Small Claims Court

This is definitely not an option of everyone, for example you cannot go to small claims court if you are looking to figure out your financial situation after a divorce. However, if the stakes are low when someone is trying to get money from you or you are trying to get money from someone, and it isn’t worth taking on legal fees, you might consider small claims court.

Your home state will impact who high the financial stakes are.

Try Pricing Attorneys

You may actually find that the fees are not as bad as you think they are. On top of that, an attorney might actually give you a discount.

You could also get lucky and find a lawyer that is willing to offer you legal assistant and counsel pro bono. That’s legal jargon for free!

Other lawyers may be willing to take on your case with the contingency that you won’t pay money if you lose, but if you win they will pay money.

It is important to be very careful when you are picking a lawyer, however. You want to make sure that you are choosing to work with a reputably attorney and make sure that the terms and rate is agreed upon before they take your case.

Also, don’t be surprised if a given attorney you reach out to turns you down. It is definitely risky for lawyers to take on cases on contingency, and they need to be confident that a judge and jury will side with you and that there’s going to be something sizable awarded to you.

Still, it’s worth shopping around talking t some attorneys. Some lawyers will offer intro meetings that are free and if you cannot afford their services, they may be willing to point you in the direction of someone who is.

Represent Yourself in Court

While no legal professional will recommend that you decide to represent yourself in court, it is good to know that it is an option.

Still, you can actually end up hurting yourself quite a bit by representing yourself. Lawyers obviously have experience and expertise that you very likely do not possess. And as the popular saying goes, “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”

It’s harsh, but it’s usually true.

If you are going to represent yourself in court, however, there are some tips that you are going to want to brush up on.

Learn the laws and rules that apply to your case

Even though you’re not a lawyer, you are still going to be required to know and follow nearly all the same laws.

Understanding the law that applies to your case can help you understand what it is that you need to prove and can allow you to focus on the relevant issues at hand.

Make sure all your written submissions are complete and timely

One of the things lawyers do most often is take care of paperwork. If you are acting as your own attorney, you are going to have to take care of those responsibilities on your own.

During the course of your case, the main way you will convey your arguments, objections, and any other facts and information in your case, both to the other side and to the court, is by preparing and filing written documents.  If you are using preprinted forms, make sure you have provided all of the required information in the correct blanks and checked all the appropriate boxes.  If you are preparing your own documents from scratch, make sure they comply with the court’s rules regarding written submissions.

Attend all hearings and get to court early

Your court hearing is not an appointment that you reschedule if you miss it. If you need to change your court date for some reason, you will need to file legal documents requesting a different court date or get the other side to agree to the change.

If you miss your court date or are late, it is possible that the court will rule against you. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to court, consider traffic, weather, parking, and more.

Characteristics to Look for When Choosing a Lawyer

Find the right lawyer can be tough and it can be hard to make a judgement if you are in quick need.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the lawyer you are using to look over your will is probably not the same lawyer you’d use to file a lawsuit.

No single lawyer is right or every case, but there are some important characteristics that you’ll want to look out for when making your decision of what lawyer you want to work with.


Becoming a truly successful lawyer can take years and while many new lawyers are incredibly bright and determined and will go on to have fantastic careers, it is often best to seek out lawyers with years of experience in a given task.

Experience is obviously the best teacher and if you want a lawyer who is going to be able to avoid pitfalls, see opportunities when they present themselves, and give you the best opportunity to be successful in your legal venture, you are going to want to find one with years of it.

Here are some of the skills that lawyers gain with time and experience:

  • Negotiating with other seasoned lawyers or legal teams
  • Picking a great jury
  • Valuing a case for settlement
  • Cross examination
  • Developing effective arguments
  • Communicating with judges

As a lawyer gains experience, they learn how to win. They also learn the importance of a sympathetic jury, and know when to take or offer a settlement.

Basically, a lawyer acts as both your legal representation and legal advisor. You want to know that the person who is advising you on what legal course to take has been there before!


There’s always been the reputation that lawyers get of being sleazy, shady, dishonest, and more. The truth is, most lawyers have great integrity and are simply trying to do the best job they can with the task at hand.

Good lawyers can be strong and have bullet proof negotiating tactics without being deceitful.

A great lawyer knows their reputation is everything and if their clients can’t trust them, then no one can. Still, it is important to keep integrity in mind when you are searching for the right lawyer.

If you sense any red flags, it is probably best to go another way.


As previously mentioned, a lawyer’s reputation is everything to their business.

Lawyers are judged not only by their clients, but also by judges, peers, and more. Overtime, a lawyer will have a reputation that is easily found.

One way to learn about a great lawyer is to ask friends and family members about lawyers they have used in the past. Ask about how they felt the lawyer managed their case, ask if they were happy with the communication and the result.

If you have a lawyer that you prefer to work with but they do not have expertise in the matter at hand, ask them if they know any lawyers working in that aspect of the law.


A lot of lawyers see their job as just that – a job. Ideally, their interest in helping you goes a bit deeper than that.

During an initial meeting a lawyer, make sure that they ask a lot of questions to learn about your case. Make sure that they are really listening to you and what to fully understand your concerns.

Good lawyers will understand and empathize with you situation. If a case goes to trial, you will want a lawyer that is personally invested in helping you get the justice you deserve. They’ll only be interested in that way if they truly understand where you are coming from and what you want and deserve out of your case.


There is nothing wrong with having a do-it-all lawyer take a look at simpler tasks, but if you have a specific case or suit on the horizon, you are going to want to find a lawyer that is specifically primed for that kind of work.

When a case demands a greater level of expertise, general practice lawyers will typically encourage you to find an attorney that has a more specific line of expertise.

That more specific expertise means they will likely understand the ins and outs of your case far better. Thats because if they’re spending time becoming an expert on specific tasks, they’re going to have a lot more time to learn than general attorneys who pride themselves on knowing about law in a more general sense.

Lawyers with a limited practice typically belong to professional associations that are designed to deal with specific fields of law. If you have a need for a lawyer with specific expertise, it might serve you best to start your search within these professional associations.


This might seem like a secondary concern, but if you are going to spending a lot of time with your lawyer, you’re going to want to make sure that you actually get along.

Clients and lawyers need to be able to communicate with one another often and in a positive and productive way. They need to respect each other and a lawyer needs to really understand their client’s goals and aspirations.

Communications, respect, and understanding are all crucial aspects to the rapport you build with your lawyer.

If you able to work productively with them and they help you get what you need out of your case or suit, chances are good their reputation will only improve and you will know where to look next time you need a lawyer.

It’s a win-win and can be an incredibly mutually beneficial relationship.

Good luck!

Understanding Why Bribing Colleges to Get Your Child in Is Illegal

Last week, several American CEOs and celebrities were embroiled in a bribing scheme that allowed them to get into some prestigious and some not-so-prestigious universities and colleges around the country.

It all took place last Tuesday, when federal prosecutors in Boston charged 33 parents and 13 collegiate coaches with engaging in a long-running scheme to get children into colleges by lying to and cheating the admissions process.

Some of the most famous names caught up in the case include actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, as well as partner at the private equity firm TPG, William E. McGlashan Jr., co-chairman of the law firm Wilikie Farr & Gallagher, Gordon Caplan, and retired CEO of Pimco Doug Hodge.

While it’s obviously morally questionable for the rich and famous to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get their offspring into the school of their choice, buy why exactly is It a federal crime?

To put it simply, the charges that were filed in the cases include mail and wire fraud statutes which means that these ill-advised parents could potentially be facing charges that come with 20-year sentences in prison.

Interestingly, it’s possible that these parents could have avoided any criminal punishment if they were more well-versed in the 2010 Supreme Court appeal of former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, which limited the honest-services fraud law. But unfortunately for them they were not, meaning they did not know that bribes and kickbacks are still very much illegal. If they haven’t already, they’ll all want to lawyer up real soon.

Perhaps the one silver lining for the families who are named in the case is that while the university coaches or employees who were taking payment in exchange for improperly admitting students could be convicted as federal criminals, the parents charged in the case, the ones who paid the money, have only be listed as guilty for ascent as accomplices in the scheme.

That’s probably good news for them, but less good news for other Americans who will likely once again see the upper class get off the hook for breaking the law.

But did the parents even care that they were breaking the law? According to some of the quotes that were obtained through wiretap, it seems unlikely.

One parent charged in the case named Jane Buckingham was quoted telling an informant the she knew “this is craziness; I know it is. And then I need you to get him into U.S.C., and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.” Buckingham was discovered to have paid $50,000 to have someone else take the standardized test known as the ACT in place of her son.

Mr. Caplan, the aforementioned CEO of Pimco was quoted telling an informant in the case, “I’m not worried about the moral issue here. I’m worried about the- if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

So why commit these crimes when the reason for it seems so trivial? Why pay thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to get your child into a specific university when it’s a crime, especially when the kid could simply get into a less prestigious university yon their own?

A parent’s love is an obvious and fairly forgiving answer. A more pragmatic answer is that most white-collar crime similar to this one do not have a clear victim. Because there is no clear victim, it seems likely that those involved can easily convince themselves that they are doing nothing wrong.

While this crime cannot really be considered a white-collar crime, paying money to get a child into a prestigious university is not so different. In both cases there is no easily identifiable individual victim. Even though deserving children were obviously robbed of their admission to a given university in place of a child who had won the genetic lottery in terms of being born to wealthy parents, it’s nothing like looking at a victim of abuse, or robbery, or similar crime.

But it has already happened. The parents involved have been named and many of them have been publicly chastised, or even removed (though maybe temporarily) from their positions. It goes without saying that the coaches and university staff involved have also been removed.

In the case of Loughlin and Huffman, one former Oakland School Teacher named Jennifer Kay Toy has filed a $500 billion class action lawsuit claiming that “legitimate applicants to colleges were denied access due to illegal activities.” In the lawsuit, Toy sad her son Joshua was not admitted to several universities where the cheating scandal took place, despite having a 4.2 GPA.

The one interesting question is what happens to the children who benefited from the bribes. In some cases the students were likely very aware of the deal. In others, it appeared as though the students were just as ignorant to the reason behind their admission as their fellow classmates.

While a number of implicated universities have already claimed that any incoming students who benefited from system will be denied, it is harder to remove students from their already established student body.

The truth is that this situation is likely far from over. While the coaches and university staff implicated will very likely face some potentially seriously jail time, it also seems quite likely that the very same system that got their children into university will keep this rich and famous parents out of jail.

Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to see how the American judicial system chooses to go forward. Whether they will choose to make these parents and former university staff an example, or if they simply give them a slap on the wrist as is customary for many white-collar criminals, will likely have a role in dictating how similar situations are dealt with in the future.

Can You Be Fined For Jaywalking in Australia?

If you get around town through the power of your own two feet, you might think you are safe from any type of traffic violations and subsequent crimes.

When there you are tasked with crossing an empty street, you might think that you are free to cross with not a care in the world, but the truth is quite different.

Even when no vehicles are on the road, if you are caught crossing the street at an undesignated area, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty fine.

In recent years, police crackdowns on jaywalking in high-risk areas have seen thousands of Australian pedestrians receive fines up to $70 on the spot. The majority of fines have taken place in Sydney and Melbourne and the aim of the increased fines has been to try to reduce the occurrences of pedestrian deaths and injuries.

So what is and what is not considered a jaywalking pedestrian offense in Australia? Keep reading to find out.

Pedestrian deaths in Australia

If you think a fine is a bit drastic, you might want to learn a bit about the statistics related to pedestrian deaths in Australia.

Based on a study by the Government of South Australia, 1 in 7 road deaths from 2012 to 2016 involved a pedestrian.

In addition to fatalities during that span of time, there is an average of 68 pedestrians who are seriously injured and 241 pedestrians who received minor injures on South Australian roads.

In the following two years, pedestrian deaths increased all over the continent.

10 pedestrian deaths in 2017 in Victoria increased to 12 in 2018. 6 deaths in Queensland nearly doubled to 11. 17 deaths in 2017 in New South Wales grew to 29 in 2018.

From these numbers alone it is clear that increased regulations could certainly help to reduce the risk of pedestrian death and injury due to careless jaywalking.

The laws of jaywalking

In truth, there is not a specific jaywalking offence in Australian law. Instead, it is simply the most common term to describe a pedestrian offence that takes place when a pedestrian crosses a road illegally.

Pedestrian laws and related fines vary depending on the state or territory in which an offense takes place. Related fines also vary by council area.

Much like other jaywalking laws wherever they exist, the rules are typically not strictly enforced. That is especially true when compared to other traffic violations such as speeding fines and red light cameras.

More often than not, for a pedestrian to receive a traffic infraction, they will have to be seen clearly disregarding traffic laws and road rules as well as recklessly putting themselves or nearby drivers in danger.

What behavior can earn you a fine?

If you are regularly crossing the streets on your way to work, you may be wondering what type of behavior could earn you a costly fine.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • You cross the road by ignoring red or “stop” pedestrian lights
  • Your cross the road diagonally where you are not permitted to do so by the traffic laws
  • You cross the road on a green light
  • You don’t use the striped crossing within 20 metres of your location
  • You walk in the middle of a breakdown lane

If there are no pedestrian signs, lights, crossings, or signals where you are, it is your duty as a pedestrian to take the shortest and safest route to cross the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is actually not a legal offence to cross the road while using your phone, listening to music, or text on your phone when you are crossing the road unless it is possible for police to prove that you caused an accident or traffic hazard by doing so.

One nice thing if you do decide to take the risk and jaywalk is that there is no legal penalty for jaywalking.

In conclusion

In the end, it is important to remember that these rules are not only enforced to keep you safe, but to keep the drivers on the road safe as well.

It’s all about public safety and it’s important to remember that the next time you consider putting yourself or other drivers in danger by crossing the street.

So, the next time you are thinking about outrunning traffic and making a fast dash across the road, think about what your actions could cause to your own safety and you bank account!

The Pros and Cons of Dating a Lawyer

If you are looking for love, whether or not a lawyer is the right match for you might depend on your preferences. The truth is, while all lawyers are different, they do tend to share some pretty strong characteristics that can either rub your the right or very wrong way.

Lawyers have to be smart, determined, and if they’re a trial lawyer they’ll also have to be silver-tongued to boot.

Sure, there are differences, but on the whole, here are some pros and cons to be aware of if you’re thinking about dating a lawyer.

The Pros

They’re determined and devoted

One of the great things about attorneys is that they are typically quite steadfast and quite loyal. Their profession requires them to be upfront and honest. They’re not known for sugarcoating things and they’re not known for playing games. They’re reliable partners.

They can be great at giving advice

Because lawyers are essentially trained to give legal advice, they can extend the same kind of analytical thinking to their private life. They’re able to pick up on minute details and can help you come to answers that you might otherwise not be aware of.

They have incredible wardrobes

This is a bit shallow, but hey everyone can be shallow everyone now and then. The truth is, attorneys have to drive to the nines when they are on the job and also have to present themselves well when in public. Thanks to that (and thanks to the nice paycheck that comes with a lot of legal professions), you can expect your lawyerly partner to always be dressed with the best.

The know how to compromise

A lot of times, a job of a lawyer is not to win outright in the court room, but to come to some kind of agreement of settlement before a case goes to court. They can use that skill set in their personal life as well, managing to come to a compromise in their personal relationships just like they do in their work.

They’re great at communicating

Part of the job is making speeches in front of large group – sometimes very powerful – people. They have to be able to argue points of views with people’s lives and money on the line.

That kind of skill could help pay huge dividends when you and your partner are working to come to a conclusion in your private lives.

They work hard

Simply to get accepted into law school requires years of incredibly hard work. After that, it’s no cake walk to be a successful, practicing lawyer either. It all takes work, and if you are with a lawyer, it won’t take long for you to learn just how hard they work.

They’re smart

This fact goes hand-in-hand with how hard lawyers work. If you find intelligence a total turn on, a lawyer is a great person to seek out. Members of the bar are some of the smartest people in the workforce.

They make a lot of money

Again, this one might seem a little shallow, but hey – money is important! No matter what you’re income is, if you end up with a lawyer, you can rest assured that they’ll be bringing home the bacon.

The Cons

No matter how great lawyers can be, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. There are some definite cons of dating a lawyer as well. Here are some of the major negatives you’ll want to consider if you’re serious about shacking up with an attorney.

You’re going to need to match them when it comes to intelligence

Lawyers typically need to be matched when it comes to intelligence and wit when choosing partners. They want to be engaged and feel challenged at work and at home. In a romantic partnership, they can get bored of people who are unable to hold an intellectual or logical conversation.

They log incredibly long hours

Young aspiring partners in a law firm work mornings, days, evenings, nights, weekends, and everything in between. Once they’ve made partner, things tends to calm down a bit in terms of day-to-day tasks but they’re also expected to take on more of a leadership role and have more responsibility.

That means that they’ll be logging serious hours in the office. Even when they’re home, they often have to work before and after dinner to get their job done. To be successful, they will need your support and understanding to deliver the results that are expected of them and continue to deliver their clients the kind of high quality work that is expected of them.

They’re human lie detectors

Hopefully this isn’t an issue for you, but lawyers can see right through you and any lie they try to tell you. Knowing when a person is telling a lie is an industry skill and if you lie even once, you could risk breaking trust with your lawyer lover forever.

They may be overly analytical and risk averse

If you’re looking for a partner who will go sky diving with you or join in on swimming with sharks, you may want to look for a partner who is not an attorney. They ten to heavily analyze and dissect things. That might make them apprehensive to take risk or get involved in something that they aren’t able to full understand before taking part in.

They may take time to trust you

Lawyers tend to always be wary of a new person of their intents at first. In order to fully trust someone, they need sufficient grounds to be able to trust them. When getting involved in a lawyer, it is always wise to match them when it comes to honesty and being upfront. Not only will they feel more comfortable with you if you are totally honest, that kind of transparency is the best way to start a new relationship with anyone.

Paralegal vs Lawyer – What’s the Difference?

If you are dealing with some legal issues, you will very likely quickly find out that lawyers charge quite the hourly rate.

In fact, in Australia, the hourly rate in most urban areas is between $200 and $400. That’s no laughing matter!

Given that hefty fee, you may be wondering if a paralegal could take care of the tasks you need done.

So what are the differences between attorneys and paralegals?

Keep reading to find out!

The differences between paralegal vs lawyer

To put it simply, the biggest differences between paralegal versus lawyer is the education necessary and the licensing invovled. To be an attorney, one must attend and complete a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Law (LLB). After that you have to complete practical legal training, gain admission to a legal practice, and earn your practising certificate.

On top of that, attorneys are required to undergo stringent morality examis, pay annual fees, participate in ongoing legal education requirements, abide by a strict ethical standard, and much more.

When it comes to paralegals, it is not as formalized and the process is far less strict.

The first step to becoming a paralegal is to undergo some form of formal education – in fact a lot of universities and even community colleges offer training in how to become a paralegal. It is becoming increasingly popular for employers to require paralegals to possess a four–year degree or bachelor’s degree.

Paralegals are essentially able to research and draft the majority of legal documents and often assist attorneys with the day-to-day operations of a law firm. That includes scheduling hearings, interacting with clients, and keeping case files and evidence in order.

While paralegals are not allow to offer legal advice to clients and cannot independently prepare legal documents that have not been approved by an attorney, they can get the ball rolling on getting you what you need to be on top of.

What is an independent paralegal?

When it comes to the question of paralegal vs lawyer, it is important to know that most paralegals work directly for lawyers. There are, however, independent paralegals that you can hire for a fraction of the price that lawyers charge hourly.

An independent paralegal, which is also often referred to as a freelance professional, is a non-attorney legal professional who can provide different types of legal document services to patrons for a fee without be under the supervision of an attorney.

While this can be all you need in some cases, it is important to know what these independent paralegals can and cannot do.

Since the paralegal is not working directly under an attorney, there are some strict limitations on what they are lawfully allowed to do.

For example, they are not able to practice law but they can help you with less demanding tasks that do not require a need for legal advice – as only lawyers can do that.

While providing legal advice is not against the law, it is important that a paralegal is careful when it comes to how their patron takes and utilizes the legal advice.

What services are they allowed to provide?

If you are interested in hiring a paralegal, you have to be very careful to be sure that a paralegal can actually benefit you.

In order for your need to qualify as something a paralegal can actually help you.

Essentially, in order for a paralegal to serve a purpose without the need of an attorney, you need to already know what you want when it comes to your legal matter and all you need for someone to locate, retrieve, and fill out the necessary legal forms.

Other proceedings that the paralegal may be able to help you with include matters such as estate planning, probate filings, powers of attorney, bankruptcy petitions, straightforward uncontested divorce forms.

Other tasks that paralegals can complete include:

  • Case planning, development, and management
  • Legal research, fact gathers and information retrieval
  • Drafting correspondence
  • Drafting pleasings, document responses and discoveries
  • Contacting and conferencing clients
  • Analyzing and summarizing documents
  • Fact checking
  • Preparing for and assisting at trial
  • Locating and interviewing witnesses

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you want to hire a paralegal for any basic legal matters that you need but do not require advice in those matters, be sure that you choose the right person for the job.

According to the National Federation of Paralegal Association, consumers should choose a professional who has no less than a paralegal certificate when they want someone other than a lawyer to perform legal and law-related tasks. This certificate at least proves that the professional that you are interested in working with is both trained in and knowledgeable about the law and related procedures.

In short, the choice to hire a paralegal and forgo hiring an attorney can absolutely be a smart one as long as you know what you need them for and as long as you do the research ne cessary to succeed.