When you need to hire an attorney, the cost can be an important consideration. Legal fees can add up fast, taking a financial toll if you need cash to pay for a lawyer’s expertise.
Legal loans can help close the gap. It’s possible to take out loans for legal fees to cover your attorney’s retainer and hourly rate. Legal fee loans work like other personal loans: They allow you to borrow a lump sum, which you repay with interest.
If you’re considering a legal loan, it helps to know how they work and where to find them.
In this guide:
- Personal loans for legal fees
- Eligibility requirements for legal loans
- How legal fees work
- Should you use a personal loan for legal fees?
- Alternatives to legal settlement loans
Personal loans for legal fees
|Lender||Best for||Key features|
|SoFi||Good credit||Low fixed rates starting at 8.99% APR.|
Borrow $5,000 to $100,000 for legal fees.
Same-day loan funding once approved.
|Upgrade||Fair credit||Fixed rates between 8.24% and 35.97% APR.|
Check rates without hurting your credit score.
Minimum credit score of 560 is required.
|Upstart||Thin credit||Typical rates between 6.12% and 35.99% APR.|
Get funds as fast as 1 business day.
Minimum credit score of 580 in most states
Several lenders offer legal loans. Some lenders specialize in providing legal loans for bad credit, and others offer legal settlement loans.
We researched a variety of loans for legal fees to find the best borrowing options. When comparing companies, we considered interest rates, minimum and maximum loan limits, repayment terms, and fees.
The companies listed below offer personal loans to cover legal fees. We’ve included a mix of good, fair, and thin credit options. Be sure to check the eligibility requirements before applying.
Best for good credit: SoFi
Editorial rating: 5 out of 5
- Unemployment protection allows pausing loan payments in case of job loss
- Fast, easy application: Get a decision in minutes
- Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000
SoFi personal loans are suited to borrowers with good to excellent credit who need more significant amounts for legal fees. It’s possible to get a loan of up to $100,000 through SoFi, with funding as fast as the same day you’re approved.
Borrowers can extend repayment terms from two to seven years, giving you plenty of time to pay off a legal loan if needed. There are no fees required and no costs for paying your loan off early.
You can check your rates and get a quote in as little as 60 seconds without affecting your credit scores. SoFi personal loan rates are fixed, offering predictability when budgeting for monthly payments. You can also reduce your rate by 0.25% when you enroll in autopay.
- Credit score category: Good or excellent
- Soft credit check: Yes
- Deposit time: Same-day funding
- Origination fee: 0% to 6%
- Late fee: None
- Rates (APR): 8.99%% to 23.43%
- Discounts: 0.25% for making automatic payments
- Repayment terms: 2 – 7 years
Best for fair credit: Upgrade
Editorial rating: 4.9 out of 5
- Credit health tool to monitor your credit score and get personalized recommendations
- Loan amounts: $1,000 – $50,000
- 15-day grace period before late fee is assessed
Upgrade could suit borrowers seeking legal loans for bad credit or fair credit. The minimum credit score required hovers around 560, which may appeal to those building or rebuilding credit. You may also consider Upgrade loans for legal fees if you need to borrow a smaller amount of money.
Regarding the cost, Upgrade’s maximum loan APR is higher, but that’s typical of personal loans for bad credit. Upgrade also charges an origination fee, which can add to your cost of borrowing. This fee is deducted from your loan proceeds, which is critical to remember when choosing a loan amount.
As with other legal loan options, you can check your rates first to see what kind of APR you might qualify for. Checking rates won’t affect your credit. If you decide to move ahead with an Upgrade personal loan for legal fees, it’s possible to get funding as soon as the day after approval.
- Credit score category: Fair, bad (560+)
- Soft credit pull to check rates? Yes
- Deposit time: As soon as the next day
- Origination fee: 1.85% – 9.99%
- Late fee: $10
- Rates (APR): 8.49% – 35.97%
- Repayment terms: 24 – 84 months
Best for thin credit: Upstart
Editorial rating: 4.8 out of 5
- Uses artificial intelligence to provide competitive rates based on unique creditworthiness
- Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score
- Loan amounts: $1,000 – $50,000
Upstart offers personal loans with fixed interest rates. You can borrow as little as $1,000 or up to $50,000 to pay attorney’s fees or other legal costs. Upstart offers three- and five-year repayment terms.
Similar to Upgrade, Upstart charges origination fees between 0% and 8% depending on how much you borrow and your overall creditworthiness. Getting approved with little credit history is possible, but a higher score can help you lock in the best rates. You can check your rates without affecting your credit score.
One factor that differentiates Upstart from other lenders is how it approaches loan approvals. Its lending model considers education, employment, and other variables when determining eligibility. This model leads to 27% more approvals and 16% lower rates than traditional models.
- Credit score category: Fair, bad
- Soft credit pull to check rates? Yes
- Deposit time: As fast as one business day
- Origination fee: 0% – 8%
- Late fee: $15 or 5% of payment
- Rates (APR): 6.7% – 35.99%
- Repayment terms: 36 or 60 months
Eligibility requirements for legal loans
Legal loans are unsecured personal loans you can use to pay legal fees. That can include hourly fees, contingency fees, retainers, and other fees your attorney charges. So what makes legal fees different from other personal loans?
Not much, other than the purpose of the loan. Personal loans are unsecured loans you can take out to pay for various expenses. For example, you might get a personal loan to consolidate high-interest credit card debt or pay for a home repair you can no longer put off.
You must repay legal and personal loans in monthly installments, with interest. Depending on the lender, you might pay fees for a legal loan. In terms of eligibility requirements, your ability to qualify for a legal (or personal) loan often depends on the following:
- Credit scores
- Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio
- Monthly housing payment
Lenders may also ask what you intend to use the loan for before approving you. If a lender doesn’t allow loans for legal fees, it should tell you that upfront. Few lenders offer specific “legal loans,” but many will allow qualifying borrowers to use the loan funds in any way they choose.
As we mentioned, one of the most important factors lenders consider for legal loans is your credit score. The minimum credit score required can vary by lender. Some accept scores as low as 580, while others require a score of 620 or higher. The better your score, the lower your interest rate is likely to be.
It’s possible to find fair-credit loans and bad-credit loans for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit. Many lenders, such as Avant and Upstart, extend personal loans to those with fair or bad credit scores. However, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate than a borrower with excellent credit.
Checking your credit scores before applying for a legal loan or personal loan can help you better understand what rates you’re likely to qualify for. You can check your credit as often as you like without affecting your score.
Lenders may also impose restrictions on whom they’ll extend legal loans to. For instance, it’s common for lenders to require borrowers to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to get a loan for legal fees in the United States. You also must be at least 18 (19 in certain states) to qualify for a loan.
However, non-U.S. citizen personal loan options are available. You may need to provide a valid Visa or work authorization to apply. As with personal loans for citizens, you also must meet the lender’s minimum credit score and income requirements.
Some personal loans for non-citizens may require a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen. A cosigner means you’re both responsible for the loan. An upside if your cosigner has a good credit score is the potential to qualify for a lower interest rate.
The amount you can borrow with legal loans will depend on the lender. As you can see from the lending options we profiled, the minimum loan amount can range from $1,000 to $5,000. The maximum, meanwhile, may run from $50,000 to $100,000.
It’s essential to choose the right loan amount for your needs. Borrow too little, and you may need additional loans to cover legal fees. Borrow too much, and you’ll pay interest on money you didn’t need.
Shopping around for the best personal loan lenders and rates can give you a better idea of what’s available and how much you could borrow with different loans.
How legal fees work
As we mentioned, you can use loans for legal fees to pay various costs. Understanding the different legal fees you may encounter can give you a better idea of how much you might need to borrow.
|Fee type||What it’s for||When do you pay?||What it costs|
|Retainer||Used to secure an attorney’s services||Often paid upfront as a lump sum before the attorney begins working and may include a specified number of working hours on your case||$2,000 – $100,000|
|Hourly||Cover an attorney’s services during the time they’re working on your case or exceed the hours agreed upon with your retainer fee||Most attorneys bill clients for hourly fees once a month||$100 – $300|
|Litigation||Costs include fees related to lawsuits, such as court fees or document fees||May be paid once the lawsuit concludes||Varies by location|
|Contingency||A percentage of the sum awarded if you win a lawsuit||Only pay contingency fees if you win your case||30%|
The figures listed here are ranges only. The amount you’ll pay for legal fees depends on your location, the attorney’s experience and reputation, and the work required to resolve your case.
Should you use a personal loan for legal fees?
Legal loans can provide financial relief if you need to hire an attorney. When considering a personal loan for legal fees, it helps to ask yourself the right questions:
- How much do I need to borrow?
- What interest rates am I likely to qualify for?
- What kind of monthly payment is affordable for my budget?
It’s also important to look at the available loan options to evaluate which best suits your needs. Considering minimum and maximum loan amounts, repayment terms, interest rate ranges, and fees is helpful.
The type of case can make a difference when considering legal loans. For example, a legal settlement loan could make sense if you expect to win your case and a large sum. Rather than monthly payments, you could use part of the settlement proceeds to pay the loan in full.
Remember: Legal loans are debt, so you’ll have to repay them. Reviewing your budget can help you gauge what type of payment you can afford. Use a personal loan calculator to experiment with loan amounts, interest rates, and repayment terms to see how they affect payments.
Alternatives to legal settlement loans
A legal loan is one option to pay attorney fees, but it isn’t the only way to borrow. You could pay legal fees using any of the following:
- Home equity loan. Home equity loans allow you to borrow a lump sum using your home as collateral. A home equity loan may offer lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than a personal loan for legal fees.
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a revolving credit line that lets you borrow money as needed to pay expenses, including legal fees. HELOCs are secured by your home equity and often have variable, rather than fixed, interest rates.
- Credit card. It’s possible to pay legal fees using a credit card if your attorney accepts that payment. Be sure to consider the APR because carrying a balance could make paying legal fees more expensive.
Note: We advise caution with these options if you’re going through a legal separation or divorce.
If you want to avoid getting a loan for legal fees, consider asking your attorney about an installment plan. Your attorney may be willing to work out a payment arrangement so you can pay the fees over time. You can also contact your local legal aid organization for free or low-cost legal services.