Affordable Legal Care
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization

FAQ

Things we get asked a lot

Do attorneys at Affordable Legal Care take cases on contingency?
Law firms are able to take cases on contingency (where they are not paid unless they win a case) only when they have a surplus of funding to cover their costs while the case is ongoing. Affordable Legal Care is structured so that clients fund their own cases. This allows our attorneys to charge less money because we are not simply focusing on getting large profits. Besides, most family and criminal cases cannot be taken on contingency due to ethical rules. We do work with attorneys who will take cases that don’t fall under these rules, and we will happily put you in touch with them.

Do attorneys at Affordable Legal Care offer free services?
No. Clients who qualify for our attorneys’ services fit between 125% and 300% of the federal poverty level. Those who fall below our scale are eligible for free help in the form of pro bono entities such as Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, Lakeshore Legal Aid, or free legal clinics. Those who fit within our scale are not eligible for these free services except under very exceptional circumstances. Those agencies receive funding to be able to offer free representation. We do not accept grant money for this purpose at this time. Our attorneys charge for all work performed, but we do it at a much lower rate than private attorneys.

Do attorneys at Affordable Legal Care offer unbundled legal services?
Legal services are considered unbundled when a case is broken into small pieces. For example, you can hire an attorney to just help you speak in court or draft a document. We rarely do this type of work, because we find it is too easy for the other side, or even the court to confuse you or let you make mistakes which can be costly to your case in the long run. It is always better to have an attorney by your side for the whole case. Representing yourself or only having help for part of your case can actually cost you more in the long run. These cases take longer to resolve, or you end up needing to hire an attorney anyway to fix mistakes. A better option may be to pay for a one-hour consultation with us to get a case plan put together to decide what your next steps should be.

How do I get a public defender?
Court-appointed defense attorneys are appointed by the court. Depending on which court your case is in, you may be appointed an attorney employed by the county or a private firm which contracts to represent indigent defendants.

The first step in being appointed a public defender is to appear in court. This can be frustrating, as the first thing you want to do when you are charged or arrested is speak with your attorney. Public defenders are very busy, carrying many cases at once. For this reason, you will not usually be able to speak with a public defender until he or she has been appointed to you in court. Until the judge orders them to be appointed on your case, they are not your defense attorney. To get them on your case, you need to appear in court and fill out a form provided by the court. The judge might ask you questions about your income and monthly expenses to determine if you qualify for a public defender.

If they determine that you do, the public defender will generally set a new hearing and you will come back on a different day. That date is when you will speak in detail to your attorney. Sometimes the public defender will have time to meet with you that same day, and sometimes the public defender is not in court when the judge appoints them so you will have to wait until your next court appearance.

Do I qualify for a public defender?
Determining if you qualify for a public defender largely depends on the judge and which court your case is in. Some courts and judges are more lenient in their definition of indigence than others.

Does a public defender cost money?
Sometimes. The State of Michigan has a provision which allows the courts to “recoup” some of the money they pay for your case. Recoupment is set by the judge at the time of your sentencing, and you pay it along with your fine directly to the court. It can range in price and you have the term of probation to pay it and your fine in full, and the court will often require a minimum monthly payment based on your ability to pay and the length of the probation.

Do the attorneys at Affordable Legal Care provide free consultations?
No. The attorneys charge for consultations. Please go to the Fees page for more information.