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Personal Loans

How to Get a Personal Loan for Legal Fees

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.

Personal loans for legal fees

LenderRates (APR)Key feature
Credible5.20%35.99%See prequalified rates from multiple lenders1
SoFi8.99% to 23.43%Same-day loan funding once approved
Upgrade8.49%35.97%Minimum credit score of 560 is required
Upstart6.7% – 35.99%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.


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Best marketplace: Credible

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders
  • Requesting your rates on Credible is free

Credible’s personal loan marketplace offers a practical solution for those needing funds to cover legal fees. The platform allows borrowers to compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders in one location.

The platform caters to a broad spectrum of credit profiles. Additionally, the flexibility in repayment terms, ranging from short to longer durations, allows borrowers to choose a plan that aligns with their financial capacity and the nature of their legal obligations.

Most lenders on the platform do not charge origination fees or penalties for early repayment, making the loans more cost-effective.

Best for good credit: SoFi

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • 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. 

Best for fair credit: Upgrade

LendEDU 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. 

Best for thin credit: Upstart

LendEDU 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.

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.

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

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 scoreSome lenders will take as low as 580
CitizenshipU.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have cosigner who is
Debt-to-income (DTI) ratioGenerally below 36%

Credit score

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. 

Citizenship status

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. 

Debt-to-income ratio

The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a key metric that lenders use to assess a borrower’s ability to manage monthly payments and repay borrowed money. It is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income. This ratio is expressed as a percentage and provides lenders with a clear view of your financial health.

A lower DTI ratio indicates a good balance between debt and income, making you a more attractive candidate for a loan. In the context of qualifying for a personal loan to pay legal fees, a DTI ratio generally below 36% is preferred by lenders.

This threshold ensures that borrowers are not overly burdened by debt and have sufficient income to handle additional loan repayments. Maintaining a DTI ratio within acceptable limits is crucial not only for loan approval but also for securing favorable loan terms, such as lower interest rates and possibly higher loan amounts.

How much should you borrow?

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

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 typeWhy and when do you pay?What it costs
RetainerUpfront before work begins to secure an attorney’s services; may include a specified number of hours$2,000 – $100,000
Hourly Monthly to cover hours spent working on your case that exceed hours covered in retainer$100 – $300
Litigation At lawsuit conclusion to cover court and document fees Varies by location
ContingencyIf you win your lawsuit, you pay a percentage of the sum awarded30%

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.

1 Prequalified rates are based on the information you provide and a soft credit inquiry. Receiving prequalified rates does not guarantee that the Lender will extend you an offer of credit. You are not yet approved for a loan or a specific rate. All credit decisions, including loan approval, if any, are determined by Lenders, in their sole discretion. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Rates from Lenders may differ from prequalified rates due to factors which may include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in your personal credit circumstances; (ii) additional information in your hard credit pull and/or additional information you provide (or are unable to provide) to the Lender during the underwriting process; and/or (iii) changes in APRs (e.g., an increase in the rate index between the time of prequalification and the time of application or loan closing. (Or, if the loan option is a variable rate loan, then the interest rate index used to set the APR is subject to increases or decreases at any time). Lenders reserve the right to change or withdraw the prequalified rates at any time.