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Pro Bono Warriors: The Importance of Legal Aid in Litigation

The importance of legal aid.

Pro Bono Warriors: The Importance of Legal Aid in Litigation

It’s common for legally oriented companies to talk a lot about the legal process, all the different resources you can use to win a case, and what you should expect throughout the process, but there’s one thing that a lot of legally oriented services tend to shy away from. The cost of all those things.


Unfortunately, the legal process, whether it’s for a simple civil dispute between two neighbors, or a serious case such as defending yourself against life-changing criminal charges, is extremely expensive.

Luckily, there are some measures in place to help with that. It’s called legal aid.


Legal aid is crucial for many, and today, we’re going to walk you through what it is, the importance of legal aid, different sources of legal aid, and what you should expect.

Let’s get started.


What is Legal Aid?


The simplest definition of legal aid is free legal representation or advice offered by a legal professional.

However, it does get more complicated than that.


Legal aid can come in several forms. Here are some of the most common ways you might be able to get legal aid.


1: Pro Bono Work

This is when an attorney chooses to take on a case at no charge whatsoever, they’re working “Pro Bono”.


This is easily the most desirable form of aid for someone seeking legal services. It’s entirely free, there are no strings attached, and hopefully, you get excellent legal services without all the stress that comes from paying a lawyer.

For lawyers, it’s a tradeoff. They don’t get paid, but they can write off the work on their taxes, and they can get a lot of positive exposure for their firms if they win.


A lawyer might decide to offer Pro Bono services for a variety of reasons. They might feel morally convicted to help due to the nature of the issue or the circumstances of the individual seeking help, the case might be high-profile and a great opportunity for their firm, or they might just want to give back to the people in their community every once in a while.


2: Payment Upon Winning

If a case is tied to the potential for cash winnings, many attorneys will offer to initially take on the case for “free” with the condition that they receive a portion of the winnings. This is commonly the case with disability claims and other cases where people are looking for substantial financial compensation.


With this, you don’t get the entire service free unless you lose, and then you walk away with nothing. However, you do get high-quality legal help fighting in court, and if you win, the lawyer is compensated with a percentage. Everyone walks away happy in this situation. Except for the loser, of course.


3: Free Legal Advice

Only some forms of legal aid come in the form of a lawyer standing by your side without charging you hourly like they would most clients. Sometimes, most of the time, it’s free legal advice.

This doesn’t sound like a great amount of aid, because it doesn’t directly help you in the courtroom, but it’s extremely helpful.

Free legal advice can keep you from initiating a legal process you’re unlikely to win, help you determine what you should be fighting for and what’s too much or too little, what resources you might want to look into before starting a lawsuit or other claim, etc. So, while a lawyer offering this service isn’t in the courtroom fighting for you, it is still very helpful and can make a huge difference.

This is probably the most common service you’ll find frequently offered by many lawyers. There’s a good reason for it, too. It can be a segway into you hiring them for their services whether you pay them like any other client would, a Pro Bono agreement is made, or they direct you to a program, which we’ll talk about soon, that will help cover your legal fees. 


4: Funding Programs

This will be the most accessible way to receive legal funding because it’s a larger, charity-focused, funding program designed to help people leverage the legal process even if it’s otherwise financially inaccessible.


These legal aid funds are created by private organizations specifically to make the legal process more accessible.


Typically, they have a gross income cap for who can receive legal aid, and they’ll go over the claims being made before offering help, but these are pools of aid for everybody who meets the qualifications for the program.


This is crucial because Pro Bono offers directly from lawyers tend to require the lawyer to benefit in some way or feel personally convicted to help, advice only goes so far, and you don’t always get the option to pay for services with your potential winnings. 


This is a secured form of legal aid you can apply for, and it covers your legal fees. There’s a lot less luck involved.

Legal aid.

Why is Legal Aid Important?


Simply put, the importance of legal aid is huge because everything involving a courtroom is extremely expensive. Lawyers charge between $150 and $350 an hour on average, there are court fees, and then there’s the prospect of losing to a counterclaim. Even something as simple as trying to make your neighbor pay for running into your house with their car can end up costing almost as much as the damage.


For most, that makes the legal system completely inaccessible, and that’s unacceptable. The legal system is supposed to be there to serve the people and allow for orderly and meaningful solutions to problems that all of us have to deal with at one point or another. It’s not just a complicated tool for rich people to leverage and sue each other’s companies.


This is a matter of whether or not the average citizen, and even those in a rough spot, can access the justice system that is made to serve them and bring them justice.

Without legal aid, it simply wouldn’t work, and the justice system would be a failure.

This is why legal aid is such a crucial part of our society. It ensures the “Justice for all” part of our pledge and our national values. It’s about far more than funding a lawsuit or helping someone pay to defend themselves properly against claims. It’s about maintaining the promise that the people of the United States will be able to pursue justice through the court system.


Who is Legal Aid Available to?


The answer to this question largely depends on the legal aid being provided. So, we’ll break it down for each of the situations we listed earlier.


1: Pro Bono

Pro Bono work is entirely up to the lawyer offering the service. A few lawyers work almost entirely Pro Bono, but otherwise, it’s up to the lawyer taking on the case. Usually, they will benefit in some way. Whether they feel they’ve given back to their community because the case resonated with them, they need a tax break, or they want the marketing power that comes with helping members of their community in high-profile cases. Either way, there’s no telling if you’ll receive Pro Bono services.


2: Paying with Winnings

This is usually offered in lawsuits, disability and social security claims, and similar situations. In this case, the lawyer will usually go over your case to ensure they have a good chance of winning, and then they’ll agree to take it on. This is also generally only available to people who couldn’t afford the service anyway.


If a lawyer doesn’t feel that you’re likely to win your claim, they probably won’t take it. It’s not Pro Bono work. They’re simply delaying payment until you get a substantial payment to compensate them. It is also worth noting that, while you’ll likely receive a life-changing sum, the lawyer will take a good portion of it.


3: Funding from Organizations

This has the most concrete list of rules, and there are very few maybes and what-ifs to worry about.

The general qualifications for this type of legal aid are that you’re near or at the poverty line, and you have a case that makes sense. You can’t approach an organization asking for funding if you have a nonsensical case. They’d rather use the funding for something legitimate.

However, this is potentially the best form of legal aid for those who simply can’t afford the legal process. It’s there, and the requirements are laid out in a manner that makes sense. All you have to do is apply and meet the requirements.


How to Get Legal Aid


Getting legal aid can vary in difficulty depending on what type of legal aid you’re going for. Getting Pro Bono work is the most difficult. Even if you’re in a bad spot, most lawyers don’t want to work for free and hope that the marketability of the case makes up for it. However, if you can get that, you’re getting a great deal.

Getting advice for free is typically the easiest because many lawyers offer free consultations where they’ll go over your case and determine whether you should even pursue legal action. You’re bound to find an appropriate lawyer to do so if you simply Google lawyers in your area. 


Again, getting legal aid through an organization is as simple as applying. One of the simplest ways to get legal aid this way is to Google “legal aid” and add your city or state, but there are other ways we’ll talk about later. It’s also important to understand that this type of aid is usually only available if you are heading into civil court. Criminal cases guarantee a defense on behalf of the state. So, these types of services mostly serve those who aren’t facing criminal charges.

In general, you will have to seek it out. It’s just like any other type of help. You have to ask for it before you receive it.


Is Legal Help Good for Attorneys?


Most of the things we’ve talked about thus far have shown a heavy bias toward those receiving services, but what if you’re an attorney? Does it benefit you at all? Yes.


Half of the forms of aid we talked about do result in being paid. If you take on clients who need funding from an organization, you get paid like normal. Even if you accept work on the premise that the client will give a percentage of their winnings in the case, you get paid if you “finish the job”. So, at least two forms end in pay.


Free advice takes very little time, acts as a segue to fully hiring you, and shows the community that you’re genuinely trying to help people rather than drain them of every penny they have. So, it benefits you in multiple ways.


Finally, even Pro Bono work helps you as a legal professional. While it doesn’t result in pay, it does garner some of the best marketing in the business. It’s like choosing to do some free work at the moment for a huge payoff in the future. It’s also a great way to give back and dispel the idea that lawyers are “bloodsuckers” and other unsavory stereotypes surrounding the profession. Of course, it’s also not profitable. Pro Bono work rarely pays, and when it does, it’s not substantial. So, it is still a financial sacrifice.


In any case, accepting legal aid in a variety of ways is beneficial even for legal professionals.


Where to Find Legal Aid


If you need a legal professional, but you simply can’t afford it, you’re not alone. Most of the population can’t afford it. However, Litigation Legal Insight can point you in the right direction to ensure you find the help you need. Every United States citizen deserves justice whether it’s criminal or civilian court, and legal aid can help.

Even if you’re a lawyer, you might need help determining what type of help you can reasonably offer.

In either case, Litigation Legal Insight is here to help. Contact us today.