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Legal fee financing in Australia – Borrow and lawyer up
When going to court, you can’t afford to be the financially weak party. Legal fee financing helps you present a strong case and have your day in court. Plus, if you’re already stressed and anxious about your case, the last thing you need is more worry over your legal fees. Below, BestFind helps you explore the ins and outs of legal fee financing, so you can get the court representation you deserve.
How does legal fee financing work?
Legal fee financing is a specialist financial product that some lenders offer to borrowers who need to fund their legal costs. It’s typically applicable to situations where the claimant expects a financial settlement once their case is settled. The majority of such situations usually fall into the following categories:
- Family law matters, for instance, divorce settlements
- Financial claims and class actions such as personal injury and medical negligence
- Contested probate – this has to do with inheritance and titles
If you’re embroiled in any of these proceedings and are having difficulty covering the legal costs or disbursements, you can apply for legal fee financing. This is often necessary because hiring a lawyer is expensive by nature. Your lawyer will be billing you for all sorts of services, including court appearances, travel, research, documentation, and transport.
Most lenders let you borrow up to 30% of your expected settlement in court, and the funds are paid directly to your lawyer. In some cases, you may be asked to make interest payments only during the loan term. But in others, you repay the loan only at the end of your legal settlement or after a fixed period.
If you receive a financial settlement, the money goes first to cover any outstanding legal costs and loan repayments. Your lawyer then forwards the surplus to you if there’s any.
Personal loans vs legal fee financing
As mentioned earlier, legal fee financing is a specialist product, but you can also use a generic personal loan to cover your legal costs. A personal loan doesn’t have a specific purpose since it can also be used to fund holidays, weddings, renovations, and car purchases.
Additionally, the lender gives you the cash, and it’s up to you how you use it and when. Personal loans typically have borrowing limits of between $2,000 and $100,000. This amount can be repaid in instalments over a maximum period of 7 years. How much you can apply for depends on your income, debts, and living expenses instead of your court financial settlement.
If you have a good credit score, you also get a low interest rate. When deciding between a personal loan and a specialist legal loan, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The best way to choose the right product is to compare features and see which ones are more suited to your financial situation.
How to choose the best legal fee financing option
It can be tricky trying to spot the best option for yourself. But whether you’re shopping for a regular personal loan or specialist finance, it helps to consider the following when you compare legal fee financing options:
- Interest rate. Since lawyer fees are already expensive, finding the lowest available rate can reduce total costs and take some of the sting out of your wallet.
- Interest rate type. Your loan can either be fixed rate or variable rate. Read up on both of these options to fully understand how they might impact your borrowing experience.
- Loan terms. Check the minimum and maximum repayment period to make sure you have enough time to clear your debt.
- Loan type. You’ll have to decide if you want a secured or unsecured personal loan. The main difference lies in whether you have an asset to offer as security.
- Repayment flexibility. A flexible arrangement typically comes with the option of weekly, fortnightly, or monthly repayments and the ability to make extra repayments without paying an early repayment fee.
- Additional features. Other features like a redraw facility and online loan management can also be beneficial.
What else should you consider?
Here are a few other things to consider before you click the “Go to Site button” in the table above:
- What are the repayments? – To avoid adding financial pressure to an already stressful situation, use our legal fee loan calculator to find affordable repayments. Keep in mind that while a longer term increases affordability, total interest and costs also increase.
- What’s the comparison rate? – Loan fees and charges can be high even when you get a low rate. The comparison rate will give you the overall picture when it comes to the true cost of the loan. It combines the interest rate and standard fees such as upfront establishment fees and ongoing monthly fees into one percentage figure.
- What are the basic requirements? – Generally, you should be at least 18 years of age and a permanent Australian resident with a regular income. For specialist legal finance, your lawyer might be a crucial part of the application process, especially if the lender credits the funds directly into their account. Check the terms and conditions of your contract to make sure you’re on the same page with your lawyer and lender.
Legal fee financing FAQ
Are there alternative ways to fund my legal fees?
Besides generic personal loans and specialist legal finance, your options may also include:
- Credit cards
- Personal line of credit
- Pro Bono lawyers or local legal aid offices and nonprofit organisations
- Legal payment plans ( negotiate with your lawyer)
- Second mortgages
- Borrowing from family and friends
Should I apply for legal fee financing?
First, consider the seriousness of your court case. If you feel that hiring legal counsel is essential and that you’ll be able to afford it, then go ahead and start looking for lenders. Sometimes hiring professional representation in court can save you time and money while protecting your rights.
Can I apply if I have bad credit?
Yes, there are bad credit personal loans available. If you’re applying for specialist legal finance, the lender will consider how strong your case is and your expected financial settlement instead of your credit score.
Is there anything else I need to know about legal fee financing?
Please note that you may be legally required to disclose your loan details to the other party in some situations.
How do I keep my legal costs to a minimum?
Make sure you compare lawyer loans to find the lowest available rates and fees. Similarly, shop around for the right lawyer or law firm for your budget. If you’re paying by the hour, be conscious of how you engage your lawyer’s time. Keep calls and meetings short and always ask for a breakdown of the bill.
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