EP 64: Get Help Paying for An Attorney - Interview with Alan Savage of Funded Justice

Funded Justice has the sole mission of helping people hire private attorneys.” – Alan Savage

Episode 64 of the Divorce and Your Money Show interviews Alan Savage,  Chief Operating Officer of Funded Justice. Funded Justice is a crowdfunding community for anyone with a legal issue that needs money to hire an attorney.

If you’re strapped for money and need help paying for a divorce attorney, Alan will teach you how Funded Justice can quickly deliver the money you need.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Shawn Leamon: Today on the show we have a special guest. I have with me Alan Savage. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Funded Justice. Funded Justice is a Crowdfunding community for anyone with a legal issue that needs money to hire an attorney. Alan, welcome to the show.

Alan Savage: Thank you very much.

Shawn: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Funded Justice and what you do as a company?

Alan: Well, Funded Justice has the sole mission of helping people hire private attorneys, so they can have their day in court, or to help someone with a social justice issue. We’ve been called GoFundMe with a purpose. If you need to hire an attorney but you don’t have the funds available, we create a campaign, we go out to actually find people to donate to your campaign, so that we raise enough money so you can hire the attorney that you want to help you. 

Shawn: So I think the technical term for this is crowdfunding, is that correct?

Alan: That’s correct.

Shawn: How does it work? Let’s say I’m in a divorce situation and I can’t afford an attorney, how do I use funded justice? Walk me through an example of how that might work?

Alan: Let’s just say that there’s a woman that is getting divorced from the husband, and the husband froze all the assets and cut up the credit cards. You have this wife who doesn’t have any money to hire her own private attorney and most attorneys are going to want a retainer or something to start. So she would come to our website, create a campaign on our story, and we would push that out into social media to different groups that would feel strongly about that issue. We’re hoping that the wife pushes it out to her network, friends and family, who support and believes her. Then, we’ll raise the money so she can hire the attorneys she needs to get justice, and her day in court.

Shawn: What’s the typical amount that people raise on the platform?

Alan: It varies. We have campaigns that are national in scope, which have raised close to one hundred thousand dollars. We have some who are local, isolate campaigns that might raise fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars. Then, we have some campaigns that just don’t raise anything because they just can’t get enough people to feel strongly about that campaign. Our typical amount raised is about fifteen hundred dollars if you look at all of the campaigns that we do over every different category.

Shawn: If I am returning to your situation – I’m getting divorced, my husband cut up my credit cards – what would make me a good candidate, or for the most successful campaign on Funded Justice? Is it having a network? How does that work?

Alan: It has two parts. We look at it as two things that really make a campaign successful or not. One is, if the individual has a network and they have friends and family that believe and support them. Those are the first people that donate to a campaign. Once a campaign gets some money in it, it gives it social proof that other people believe in this, so it’s a legitimate campaign that says, “I was in a similar situation, here’s twenty dollars” or “Here’s fifty dollars” to that campaign. You get the social proof. That’s the first.

The second part is a campaign owner who advocates for themselves. They push it out onto Facebook, Twitter, we have resources that help them identify groups that will help them, and they do some of the legwork too. We do a lot on our end, but if they could do something on their end, those are the campaigns that do extremely well.

Shawn: Typical with crowdfunding is that campaigns have a goal amount raise. How does that work on the Funded Justice platform?

Alan: We’re different from most platforms in the sense that what we do, as soon as money comes in, we transfer it almost immediately to the campaign owner. We think that if we raise a thousand dollars, maybe that campaigner will be able to do something with that first thousand. When she gets the next two or three thousand she can do something else. We want that person to have the money as quickly as possible. You don’t have to wait to end the campaign. As soon as the money comes in we’re going to give it to you immediately.

Shawn: How much does it cost then for someone to start a campaign?

Alan: It’s zero cost to the campaign owner. It’s zero cost for us to push it out to social media and press releases, and we do that internally to start campaigns. We do take a percentage of the amount raised. So we have a typical amount where we take 7% of the raised, and then credit card processing fees come out. That’s it.

Shawn: What do people typically use money for? You said it’s mostly for getting that first –if I’m in a divorce situation, paying that retainer for the attorney, or is it other things as well?

Alan: Well in the divorce situation, what we’ve heard is that once the wife, the husband, or whoever it is, is raising the money for the divorce issue, once they get an attorney on board they’re able to file some documents so that they get access to marital funds and then that levels the playing field right away. A lot of times one of the spouses will freeze out the other one for assets to try to force them to agree to a poor settlement. If you have an attorney and they’re filing on your behalf, that doesn’t happen. That’s usually for in a divorce situation, they just need to get the ball rolling and once the other side sees that they have an attorney or have funds for it, it levels it up pretty quickly.

Shawn: Right. That makes plenty of sense. So ultimately it’s a way to at least get the process started for the divorce, so that they can start taking other legal means to maybe get some of the money that they’re actually owed.

Alan: Yes, absolutely.

Shawn: That makes it very useful in that regard, and of course as you said, the money comes very quickly, which is great, and makes things very simple for the people involved.

Alan: In that case, so let’s say that the person (the campaign owner) wanted to raise five thousand dollars because that’s what the attorney said that they needed, but once they get the first thousand the attorney says, “Hey, you’re not going to file this brief. You get access to marital funds, we’re good to go.” And maybe she only needed a thousand, that thousand, and that’s all she needs.

Shawn: Let’s say this sounds really interesting for me and my situation, or for someone listening. How do they set up a campaign? Can you walk us through the actual step by step process of what it takes to go from, “Alright, I have this idea, Funded Justice sounds like the right place for me.” How do I get started?

Alan: The first thing we tell you is to go to FundedJustice.com, and create a campaign. So it’s pretty easy to follow the instructions online. You create a campaign and we walk you through the steps of creating a campaign, telling your story, uploading pictures and videos, we can handle that. Let’s just say somebody is not tech-savvy and they need more help, they can contact support at Funded Justice, and they will actually onboard the campaign for them, help them edit pictures, and do whatever they need and set it all up. Once the campaign is set up, we have the person set up something called a stripe account. It’s just like PayPal, it’s a way that we can electronically transfer money to the campaign owner as fast as possible. Once that’s done the campaign is live and we try to get donors to it right away. 

Shawn: Alright that’s good. Seems very easy to set up. And if someone wants to contact you and learn if it’s a good option for them, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Alan: It’s best to contact me directly through email. That’s Alan@fundedjustice.com

Shawn: Well Alan, thank you so much for telling us about Funded Justice. It’s a great option for many of our listeners who don’t necessarily have the funds, or the situation that you provided, the example of where a husband goes and cuts up all the credit cards and says you don’t have access to the bank account, is actually a real situation that I see everyday, or every week. This is certainly a good option that some people should consider. Thank you very much for coming to the show.

Alan: Thank you for having me.

Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. We hope the show helps you through one of the most difficult periods of your life. Shawn Leamon is also the author of Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide. One-on-one financial coaching services are available at www.divorceandyourmoney.com.

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.