Is Legal Help Free in Cases of Fraud?

Legal help in fraud cases is free when attorneys or law students agree to work pro bono, or for the public good, according to the American Bar Association. Attorneys may also offer to work without payment upfront in fraud cases, contingent upon receiving a percentage of any settlements.

Lawyers can provide pro bono legal services of their own volition, or do so based on state legal ethics rules or Model Rule 6.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, states the ABA. They can provide free legal help to whomever they choose, but within ABA professional standards an emphasis is placed on providing free legal services to the poor and to nonprofit organizations. Law students who assist attorneys and help plaintiffs navigate the legal process also provide free legal help in fraud cases.

Lawyers may take fraud cases involving monetary claims on a contingent basis, meaning they provide legal services and are paid only if there is a settlement, judge or jury verdict in favor of the people they are representing, according to the ABA. If a court or jury rules in favor of the party being sued, neither plaintiffs nor lawyers receive compensation, and plaintiffs are not obligated to pay their attorneys for the legal help they provided. The percentage of awards taken by attorneys is set out in initial contingency agreements with clients and is generally one-third of the recovery gained through settlement or verdict.