Legal Assistance – Managing Legal Assistance Costs for the Self-Employed

Getting legal assistance as a self-employed individual is straightforward enough, though managing legal assistance costs can be tricky, especially for those not entitled to Legal Aid.


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The link above is the first place to start making enquiries regarding your entitlement to Legal Aid, and it’s certainly worth looking into further because Legal Aid can:

–       Help you to access legal assistance and advice from a solicitor experienced in criminal matters

–       Provide you with full legal representation for your defence in a criminal trial at all levels

–       Enable you to access legal advice at a police station if you’re brought in for questioning

–       Cover the cost of legal advice and representation in court

Although your income as a self-employed individual will determine, to a great extent, whether you’re able to access Legal Aid, further considerations apply, most notably the need to pass the Interests of Justice test.


Managing Legal Costs as a Self-Employed Individual

If you’re not entitled to legal aid because your earnings as self-employed individual are too high, you’ll need to cover the cost of legal assistance yourself, which may prove difficult due to the costs involved.

However, there are options to look into, such as pro bono work – this is legal assistance provided by a solicitor as a means of giving something back to the community – for legal defences, i.e. you’re being charged with a crime, and conditional fee agreements, more commonly known as ‘no win no fee’ agreements, though these are for compensation claims not defence trials.


Arranging a Pro Bono Lawyer

Make no mistake, arranging a pro bono lawyer generally isn’t easy and there’s always the chance that your efforts will prove fruitless, though if you can’t afford to pay for legal assistance when you need it, it’s something you should look into anyway – many people who can’t afford the services of a legal representative have been fortunate in this regard.

As an individual in need of free legal assistance, your first stop should be the LawWorks Clinics Network which is a nationwide network of free advice provided by legal representatives who are members of LawWorks.

The advice these legal professionals offer isn’t limited to criminal defence matters, but also extends to other areas including consumer disputes, employment law, housing matters and social welfare issues.

To locate the nearest office in your area, click on the link above and familiarise yourself with the relevant information as you need to prepare yourself and the necessary documents prior to making an appointment and you should also be aware that because these legal professionals are working pro bono, i.e. without remuneration, time is in short supply and your visit will consequently be brief, so prepare yourself and your documents in advance and make the most of this free service.

Moreover, whilst you might not be able to access free legal counsel, you’ll generally be provided with adequate advice to figure out what your next move should be.


Paying for a Solicitor

If you’re not entitled to Legal Aid and you can’t get access to a pro bono lawyer, you’ll most likely have to pay for legal representation. This can be expensive, so you’ll need to discuss your situation with the solicitor and come to an arrangement regarding a fee structure.

Many, though not all, law firms will accept partial payments on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis as their clients’ cases are prepared, though this will naturally need to be discussed with the law firm in advance and you might find that you need to approach several firms until you find one that’s willing to offer you a payment structure that’s in line with your ability to pay their fees.


Conditional Agreements – No Win No Fee

Conditional agreements, or ‘no win no fee agreements’, are an option to look into if you’ve been injured in an accident and you’re seeking compensation, but aren’t available to those seeking legal representation in a defence trial.

Legal representation, although expensive at times, is essential and if you’re embroiled in a legal dispute of any nature – criminal, conveyancing, employment, family law, housing, wills, probate & trust, etc. – it really is imperative that you arrange the best legal representation you can.

Author: Karen Kingsley is working on a freelance basis for a company that boasts of being more than just a law firm. Hanne & Co strives to provide the same level of client care to all who transact with them.

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