Legal aid is all well and good if you can get it but for many people legal expenses have to be met from elsewhere…If the world were divided into those who can’t afford to pay for representation and those who can’t and if everyone who fell into the former category got legal aid – it would all be straightforward.
But it doesn’t quite work that way. There are many people who earn too much for legal aid but who nonetheless simply cannot afford representation. Not everyone has bottomless pockets. So what to do?
1 Represent yourself – just because its a court doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a lawyer, although you may prefer it – consider whether you really need one.
2 Go Pro Bono – try the Bar Pro Bono Unit or see if your solicitor can persuade a barrister they know to do it for free just this once (it does happen occasionally).
3 The Piecemeal approach – pay for a little bit of legal advice even if you can’t afford representation. If you have a limited budget discuss with your solicitor how you can best spend it. Once a solicitor goes on the court record costs are incurred just by them keeping the case ticking over (responding to correspondence on your behalf etc). Or do it the other way around and save your beans for a barrister on the big day. (Neither solution is ideal but we’re talking about least worst options here.)
4 Beg Borrow or Steal (well, don’t steal) – increasing numbers of funding vehicles are out there – credit, policies etc. Ask your bank, ask your mum. Ask your solicitor.
6 Take it outside – think hard about whether or not you NEED to litigate. Can you sort it out between yourselves? Would mediation or collaborative law be cheaper? Take a deep breath and REALLY consider – would it be cheaper to cut a deal now?
7 Research – google it, search the blogs, join internet groups or fora, sift through the websites of campaigning organisations and support groups. There is a lot of good information there about the law and the procedure in court – but be careful. It is not all accurate or unbiased so research thoroughly. Start with the blogroll on the right hand side of this page.