The idea of donation based legal services might sound straightforward, but you might have additional questions about what that means. We hope the information below answers such questions. If you have any additional inquiries, feel free to email us at info@karmacounsel.org.

Payment Questions

Q: What do you mean by “donation based?”
A: Donation-based legal service is as it sounds: Paying what you can afford for the work provided. Donation-based does not mean “free.” Rather, it means that your lawyer will be working for you without a monetary objective and his or her primary concern will be getting you the best possible result. Each service has a corresponding suggested donation amount. You are encouraged to donate as much as you can afford to your lawyer as gratitude for the services they provide.

Q: Is there a minimum donation?
A: No. We believe there is no such thing as a minimum or maximum donation; there is only the figure you deem that you are capable of paying.

Q: Could you provide a range of what people typically pay for such services so I can get an idea of what’s a low and high donation?
A: Yes. We usually provide a suggested donation based on your legal issue and based on your desired level of service. For example, we suggest a donation of $108 for having an attorney review your self-prepared bankruptcy paperwork. For many people that service is enough and they are comfortable completing the papers on their own and representing themselves in court. For those who want complete bankruptcy representation on-par with hiring the best bankruptcy firm in town, we suggest a donation of $480 in Los Angeles and $780 in Phoenix. These suggested donations are generally found at the end of our online submission forms. In any event, we will always tell you the suggested donation prior to any work being done so that you can decide how you want to proceed.

Q: Do I pay you before or after the services are rendered?
A: Whenever you are in the best position to pay—maybe that is after the initial consultation or it could be after the matter is resolved. Or both. Payments are made when you are ready.

Please note that some types of cases have costs unrelated to the lawyer’s time that must be paid in advance. An example of this is the Court-imposed filing fee in a Bankruptcy case. While your lawyer fees will be on a donation basis, your attorney cannot (unfortunately!) convince the courts to adopt the same donation-based model for their imposed fees. Because the rules of Ethics generally prohibit attorneys from giving their own money towards their client’s court costs, such fees must be paid upfront by you. Your attorney will be very clear about what, if any, these costs are.

Q: What are the methods of donation?
A: For most cases currently being handled in California and Arizona you can either donate in-person, by mail, or through PayPal using cash, check, or card.

Q: So how do you stay in business?
A: KarmaCounsel.org is not “in business.” This site was created initially to spread the idea of donation-based legal services. This site has received donations from various generous individuals in order to fund its creation. We do not anticipate the need for further financial donations at this time but if you would like to help in other ways, please drop us a line!

If you are an attorney who understands the concepts of karma and gratitude, we would love to add you to our referral network. While a 100% donation-based business might sound like a doomed prospect, more and more services are moving towards that model. In fact, the donation-based model is nothing new outside of the legal world and several organizations currently operate in this manner with some success. The most famous example is Radiohead offering their album “In Rainbows” online for whatever price users were willing to pay. We found yoga studios in Brooklyn and Santa Monica that are 100% donation-based. We found a volunteer-based restaurant in Denver with a “pay as you go” model. Even a Panera Bread Company store in St. Louis, MO is giving the model a shot. It may sound chimerical, but we believe a donation-based business model hinges on the belief that people are inherently generous and good-spirited.

Representation & Advice

Q: Is KarmaCounsel.org a law firm?
A: No, not really. KarmaCounsel.org is a website that provides free information to the public. That being said, KarmaCounsel.org was founded by attorney Hamid Jabbar, whose firm is based on Scottsdale, Arizona. Through KarmaCounsel.org, some interested clients may submit their information to Hamid to request donation-based assistance.

Q: I understand you do not have lawyers to help me if I live in a state other than California and Arizona. Can you still give me legal advice?
A: No, but we will do our best to find you a local attorney willing to work on a donation-basis.

Q: Am I guaranteed legal representation by contacting KarmaCounsel.org?
A: Unfortunately, no. We will do our best to help. If we cannot help you, we will try to find you a qualified, capable attorney, but we cannot offer any guarantees. Sometimes the lawyers in our network have their hands full. Or, you might have a legal issue in a field of law that none of the attorneys we know practice. We will always try posting which fields of law KarmaCounsel.org currently serves: Right now, for example, we essentially only handle donation-based cases related to bankruptcy and artist-related legal issues.

Q: Do I pay anything to get matched with an attorney?
A: No. While you will ultimately give a donation to your attorney for representation, KarmaCounsel.org does not charge any fees for connecting you. We do not anticipate changing this aspect of our organization, either. If you wish to throw a donation our way for  our matchmaking services, we certainly won’t stop you!

Q: Does getting connected to an attorney bind me into an legal agreement of representation?
A: Also no. You will enter into a mutual, written understanding with the lawyer if and when you are confident that you want the attorney to represent you. You will always be in control of your representation.

Q: May I switch representation at any point in the process?
A: Of course you may. It is vital to have a sense of comfort, trust and security with the person who legally represents you.

Q: Can you do Skype appointments and consultations?
A: We are working on it! In the meantime, feel free to call us at (213) 222-ORG1. This phone is generally not staffed so please leave a message.

Q: Can my call and questions remain anonymous?
A: No, but they will always remain confidential. Because your attorney must check whether there is a conflict of interest in undertaking representation–even if that means just answering a quick question–we must know your name. If you would like anonymous answers to your questions we recommend visiting a website like www.avvo.com, which provides an anonymous question and answer board in various practice areas.

Q: How do your services differ from that of a public defender?
A: Public defenders are appointed by courts in criminal cases to guarantee the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel regardless of income. If you qualify for a public defender, it means you have insufficient income in the court’s eyes to pay an attorney. If you have a criminal issues, we are happy to provide you with a list of additional community-based organizations that may help you if you are looking for free representation.

Miscellaneous

Q: I like an article posted on the website. May I use it  for a commercial/noncommercial purpose?

A: Articles, yes. Catherine fully supports the efforts of the nonprofit, Creative Commons–her works have an Attribution 3.0 Unported License. In other words, her stuff can be used and disseminated freely for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Attribution and a link are always nice, though!

If you like the artwork of any of KarmaCounsel.org’s “Featured Artists,” we ask you to seek the permission of the artist before using any of their images. Because featured artists retain the rights to their artwork, we are not in a position to make such decisions.