Better Alternatives to Business Loans for Law Firms

Updated on:
April 10, 2024

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Law suits and litigation can be very expensive; and in many cases require lawyers to finance the cost of certain legal cases. Case studies, expert witnesses, collecting evidence and deposing witnesses can be extremely costly and require lawyers and law firms to seek funding to litigate their cases.

Seeking out the right business financing for your law firm is a key step toward long-term growth and success. From hiring a team of associates, paralegals, and support staff to leasing office space, a law firm’s expenses can quickly add up.

That’s where business loans come in. Business financing can provide the financial support law firms need to get off the ground, grow, and expand their practices.

How Can Law Firms use Business Financing?

Law firms can use business financing for a variety of purposes.

  • Working capital. Working capital is the amount of money a business has available to fund its day-to-day operations. It’s calculated by subtracting a business’s current liabilities from its current assets. Current assets include things like cash, accounts receivable, and inventory, while current liabilities include things like accounts payable, taxes owed, and short-term debt.

    Having sufficient working capital is important for businesses, as it allows them to pay their bills and meet their financial obligations on time. It can also be a sign of a healthy business, as it indicates that the business has the financial resources it needs to operate smoothly.

    Law firms may need additional funding to cover operating expenses, such as employee salaries and benefits, rent, utilities, and marketing. A business loan can provide the necessary funds to keep the firm running smoothly.

  • Expanding the business. Law firms may use business loans to fund the expansion of their practice, such as by hiring new attorneys or opening a new office location. Firms often add new areas of specialization or operation. These new areas can justify an increase in attorney fees, but also require the hiring of attorneys, paralegals, and other support staff including legal assistants, receptionists, and more.

  • Upgrading the firm: Law firms may use business financing to upgrade or purchase new technology or equipment, such as computers, software, or legal research tools. Firms also require furniture, work spaces, and more.

  • Debt consolidation: If your firm has high-interest debt from multiple sources, a business loan with a lower interest rate can be used to consolidate and pay off the debt, potentially saving money on interest payments in the long run.

  • Partner buy-ins: Business loans may be used to fund the purchase of a partnership stake in a law firm. This can be especially useful for newer attorneys looking to join an established firm as a partner.

Types of Business Financing for Law Firms

There are several types of loans and financing that may be available to law firms. Which type of financing is best for your individual firm? It depends on several factors. What’s your business credit score? Are you generating revenue despite bad credit? What’s the intended use of your new funding? Depending on the answers to these questions, you could seek out one or more of the following types of funding.

Term loans

Business term loans are a type of financing that provides a lump sum of money to a business, which the business agrees to pay back over a set period of time, with interest. They are typically used for long-term financing needs and may be offered by banks, credit unions, online lenders, or alternative financing companies.

To apply for a term loan, businesses usually need to provide financial and personal information, as well as a business plan outlining their goals and how they plan to use the funds. Collateral and personal guarantees may also be required. Term loans can be a useful source of financing, but they may come with higher interest rates and stricter repayment terms than other types of loans.

Lines of credit

A business line of credit is a flexible financing option that allows a business to borrow money as needed, up to a predetermined limit. You only make monthly payments (and pay interest) on the money you borrow, and you can use the funds for any business purpose. This makes lines of credit a good option for businesses that need access to cash on an ongoing basis, or that have unpredictable financing needs. Many businesses seek out lines of credit when they’re not needed so that if an opportunity or emergency arises, they’re able to take advantage.

Lines of credit may be secured or unsecured. A secured line of credit requires collateral, such as real estate or equipment, to secure the loan. An unsecured line of credit does not require collateral, but it may come with higher interest rates.

Lines of credit can be a useful tool for businesses that need access to cash on an ongoing basis, but they may also come with higher interest rates and fees than other types of loans.

SBA loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a U.S. government agency that provides various small business loan options to help businesses access financing. Because the SBA doesn’t want to lose taxpayer dollars, you’ll need good credit and other eligibility requirements to get an SBA loan.

There are several different types of SBA loans available, including:

  1. 7(a) loans: The 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary loan program, and it offers a wide range of financing options for small businesses. 7(a) loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including starting or expanding a business, purchasing real estate or equipment, or refinancing existing debt. The loans go up to $5,000,000 for qualified borrowers and typically feature lower rates than other loans.

  2. 504 loans: The 504 loan program is specifically designed to help businesses purchase fixed assets, such as real estate or equipment. 504 loans are typically used for long-term financing needs, and they have fixed interest rates and longer repayment terms than 7(a) loans.

  3. Microloans: The microloan program provides funding with loan amounts up to $50,000, to businesses and nonprofit organizations. Microloans are designed to help businesses with limited access to financing, such as startups and businesses in underserved communities.

To apply for an SBA loan, you’ll need to complete an application and provide financial and personal information, as well as a business plan outlining your goals and how you plan to use the funds. SBA loans generally have longer repayment terms and lower interest rates than traditional bank loans, but they may also have stricter eligibility requirements.

Equipment financing

Equipment financing loans are a type of financing specifically designed to help businesses purchase equipment. Equipment can include a wide range of items, such as computers, vehicles, and other tangible assets that a business needs to operate.

Equipment financing loans may be offered by banks, online lenders, or equipment vendors. They may have fixed or variable interest rates, and the repayment terms can vary depending on the lender and the type of equipment being financed. Businesses are typically required to put up a down payment on the equipment before the loan is approved as well.

Equipment financing loans can be a good option for businesses that need to purchase equipment but don’t have the cash on hand to do so. They can also be a good way to conserve working capital, as the loan can be used to cover the cost of the equipment while the business pays off the loan over time.

Alternative Financing: A Non-Loan Option

Merchant cash advances (MCAs) are distinct from loans in that they provide businesses with an upfront sum of cash in exchange for a share of future revenue. Unlike loans, which require fixed monthly payments and interest rates, MCAs are repaid through a variable daily or weekly deduction from sales revenue. This financing arrangement offers flexibility and aligns repayment with the company’s cash flow, making MCAs a unique and adaptable funding option compared to loans.

Merchant Cash Advances

Merchant cash advances (MCAs) offer a unique financing solution tailored to businesses seeking rapid access to capital. With an MCA, your business can swiftly secure funds by leveraging a percentage of its future sales. This option is particularly advantageous for firms facing time-sensitive opportunities, as the cash can be deposited into your bank account within a single business day. Additionally, the MCA provider’s success is intertwined with yours – meaning if you’re revenue goes down, so does theirs. This symbiotic relationship ensures that they are invested in your prosperity, offering a product that aligns with your needs and goals.

Moreover, MCAs provide a cost-effective alternative to equity financing, allowing you to obtain the necessary funds without diluting ownership. Whether it’s covering short-term expenses, fueling marketing endeavors, expanding operations, or managing unforeseen costs, an MCA empowers your business to seize opportunities and navigate challenges with confidence.

The process of applying for business financing

The process of getting a business loan for a law firm generally involves the following steps:

  1. Determine your business financing needs: Before you start the funding or loan application process, you should have a clear idea of how much money you need and what you’ll use it for. This will help you narrow down your options and choose the right type of loan.

  2. Research funders: There are many different lenders and funders that offer business loans or other forms of financing to law firms, including banks, credit unions, online lenders, and alternative financing companies. It can save your firm significant money to shop around and compare rates, terms, and requirements to find the best financier for your needs.

  3. Prepare your application: To apply for a business loan, you’ll typically need to provide financial and personal stipulations such as tax returns, financial statements such as balance sheets, as well as a business plan outlining your goals and how you plan to use the funds. You may also need to provide collateral, such as real estate or equipment, to secure the loan.

  4. Submit your application: Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, you can submit your loan application to the funder of your choice.

  5. Wait for approval: The funder will review your application and make a decision on whether to approve or deny your loan request. If approved, you’ll receive a loan offer outlining the terms and conditions of the loan.

  6. Review and accept the loan offer: Carefully review the loan offer to make sure you understand the terms and fees associated with the loan. If you accept the offer, you’ll sign a loan agreement and the funds will be disbursed to your business.

Note that the exact process may vary depending on the funder and the type of loan you’re seeking. It’s a good idea to research the specific requirements and procedures for the lender or funder you’re considering.

You may also find that the application process varies by the type of funding you are seeking. For instance, a term loan from a bank will require more stipulations and collateral, where as an MCA from and alternative funder will likely only need 3-4 months of business bank statements and does not require any real estate collateral.

Final Thoughts

Business loans and financing can be a valuable resource for law firms looking to finance their start-up or expansion efforts. By carefully considering your financing needs and researching your options, you can find the right loan to meet your business goals.

Keep in mind that different providers have different requirements and terms, so it’s important to compare your options and choose a funder that’s a good fit for your business. With a solid business plan and a little financial planning, business financing can help your law firm thrive.

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