Small Business Loans For Lawyers, Law Firms, & Attorneys: 6 Options For 2021
Legal companies, such as law firms, and solo attorneys face unique challenges when it comes to obtaining business financing. While lawyers do make a lot of money—most firms pull annual revenues of at least $500,000 per lawyer—they often go long periods without being paid for their services. This can result in cash-flow problems, especially for smaller law firms and solo lawyers, and particularly during COVID, as clients may struggle to pay their legal fees due to loss of income.
At the same time, lawyers can have a difficult time securing financing from lending institutions. Banks may be wary to lend to smaller law firms and certain types of law firms because of their higher risk profile. Fortunately, many online lenders have stepped up to provide loans for lawyers, from modest lines of credit to multi-million dollar construction loans.
Whether you need capital for legal fees, jury trial costs, marketing, or something else, there is likely an online lender that can provide your law firm funding. As follows are our top-rated choices for law firm loans.
Other Featured Options:
- Fundbox: Best For Lawyers With Unpaid Invoices
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
Best Lenders For Lawyers, Attorneys, & Law Firms
Loans for attorneys include SBA loans, short-term loans, lines of credit, invoice financing loans, and others. It is possible to get law firm funding even if you have bad credit, or have only been in business for a short amount of time. Learn about the best lenders providing law firm loans.
1. SmartBiz: Best For Large Loans
SBA loans are highly coveted loans for any small business, including lawyers, since they have low interest rates and long repayment terms. However, they can be somewhat difficult to qualify for and also difficult to apply for. SmartBiz is a service that connects qualified businesses with SBA loans online, simplifying and speeding the SBA loan application process. These loans are for established law firms that need working capital or money to expand, refinance debt, or buy commercial property. SmartBiz online SBA loans can range from $30,000 to $5 million with interest rates as low as 4.75%—much lower than non-SBA online loans or non-SBA bank loans.
To qualify for a loan through SmartBiz, you’ll need to have been in business for at least 2 years, have a personal credit score of at least 650, and a business credit score of at least 150.
Read our SmartBiz review to learn more about SmartBiz rates, terms, and how to apply.
2. Lendio: Best For Numerous Law Firm Funding Options
If you are new to business financing and/or don’t have the time to research and apply for multiple loans, Lendio can help. With this online loan marketplace, you can apply to dozens of loans with a single application. Lendio will take your loan requirements and your business’s credentials (credit score, time in business, revenues, etc.) and use that information to match you with pre-offers for loans your firm qualifies for. Lendio’s vast lending network includes numerous types of financing, including short-term loans, SBA loans, lines of credit, and others. The range of interest rates and maximum loan amount depend on which lender Lendio hooks you up with, but Lendio itself does not charge a fee.
Each lender has its own minimum requirements but Lendio generally recommends applicants have a minimum credit score of 550, 6 months in business, and $10,000 in monthly revenue.
3. Fundera: Best For High-Quality Financing Options
Fundera by NerdWallet
Like Lendio, Fundera is another reputable online loan marketplace that lawyers can use to find business financing. Fundera works with fewer partnered lenders, but the lenders they do work with are carefully selected and thoroughly vetted. Some recommended lenders in Fundera’s partnership network include BlueVine, Funding Circle, and Fundbox (more on Fundbox in a bit). In addition to online loans including short-term loans and online lines of credit, Fundera can also connect law firms with SBA loans and PPP loans for COVID-related relief.
Fundera’s borrower qualifications and financing terms and fees depend on the lender you are ultimately partnered with, but Fundera itself does not charge a finder’s fee to borrowers.
4. OnDeck: Best For Smaller Loans
OnDeck is one of the top online small business lenders, period.
This prolific lender is known for its transparency, simple application process, easy-to-meet borrower requirements, and fast funding that can deliver funds in your account as quickly as the same business day. OnDeck offers short-term loans from $5,000 to $250,000 and revolving lines of credit from $6,000 to $100,000. OnDeck loans can have high APRs—the average APR is about 50% but there are discounts for repeat borrowers—and the amounts aren’t as large as those offered by some online lenders. However, an OnDeck loan might be the perfect option if your law firm needs a fast, easy cash infusion for a purpose like payroll or working capital.
To qualify for an OnDeck loan, you’ll need 12 months in business, a credit score of 600, and $100,000 in annual revenues.
5. Credibly: Best For Bad Credit
Credibly is another notable online lender that offers funding to small businesses, including attorneys. Credibly has multiple types of short-term and medium-term business financing available, all with transparent pricing and fast service. Credibly has working capital loans for lawyers up to $400,000, and business expansion loans and lines of credit up to $250,000. Credibly fees can be on the high side, but there are discounts for repaying early, as well as low credit score requirements, and longer repayment terms compared to other short-term online lenders—up to 24 months on business expansion loans. Credibly also recently started offering SBA working capital loans up to $150,000, and SBA commercial construction loans up to $20,000,000.
Credibly’s working capital and lines of credit accept applicants credit scores in the 500s and you only need 6 months in business. Business expansion loans and SBA loans require scores in the 600s and a lengthier time in business.
6. Fundbox: Best For Lawyers With Unpaid Invoices
Many lawyers struggle with cash flow issues due to unpaid invoices from clients. Using invoice financing services offered by a lender like Fundbox, you can receive the amount from an unpaid invoice as soon as the next business day, and repay it over a 12 or 24 week term. In addition to invoice financing up to $150,000, Fundbox also offers lines of credit for general business purposes up to $150,000, as well as PPP loans. Interest rates for invoice financing and lines of credit start at 4.66%.
Fundbox is super easy to qualify for and is even open to startup law firms. All you need is a credit score of 500 and two months of history using a compatible invoicing software or accounting software. Applicants with 3 months of history with a compatible business banking account will also qualify.
Note that Fundbox does not lend to lawyers that collecting funds for any purpose other than to pay fees owed to the firm for services provided by the firm. For example, they wouldn’t lend to lawyers involved in debt collection.
How To Choose The Right Business Loan For Your Law Practice
Choosing the right type of loan for your law firm practice can be tricky and confusing, due to the large number of available options, and the sometimes complicated terms and fees. Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of law firm loans.
Choose the Right Type of Financing
With so many financing options, you may not know the right one for your needs. If this applies to you, you should consider the purpose and amount of financing you need. For example, a short-term loan is best if you quickly need a lump sum, usually of $250,000 or less, while a line of credit is better if you need for ongoing access to working capital whenever you need it. Learn about the different types of business loans for attorneys to help figure out the one that will best suit your firm’s funding requirements.
Apply For Multiple Loans
The online nature of modern loan applications makes it easy to apply for multiple loans so you can cast a wider net when looking for financing options, and then compare multiple loan offers to make sure you choose the best one. Furthermore, most online loans do not do a “hard” credit pull during the pre-approval stage, so applying to multiple loans will not negatively affect your credit.
Understand The Fine Print
It’s important that you fully understand the costs and terms of your loan before accepting the final loan offer. For example, parsing the APR of a short-term loan can be tricky, so be sure to use a loan calculator to ensure you can afford the monthly payments. Additionally, make sure you find out if there is a pre-payment penalty or a blanket lien. Also, some online lenders may claim a right to the assets of your attorney trust account in the event that you default on the loan. You will definitely want to find this out before signing rather than down the line.
Consider An Industry-Specific Loan
While most online small business lenders do lend to lawyers, others do not lend to attorneys as a rule. Also, some online small business lenders won’t lend to non-profit law firms, or firms operating within certain industries such as bail bonds, debt collection, insurance, or real estate. If you cannot find a SMB lender that will lend to your type of law firm, you might consider an industry-specific loan from a lender that specializes in loans for lawyers. Keep in mind, though, that these industry-specific law firm loans may cost a lot more than a standard small business loan.
Unlike most banks, online lenders are willing to take a risk on even the smallest, newest law firms, and even on attorneys with a tarnished credit history.
Online loans are not the most affordable type of business capital for attorneys; firms with riskier profiles will pay handsomely for an online loan. However, this doesn’t mean that established businesses with good credit should avoid online loans. When applying to online loans, firms with strong business credentials and good credit will qualify for much lower rates and higher quality online loans, such as online SBA loans. Rates may still be a bit higher than a traditional bank loan, but you’ll get the funds a lot quicker, which can make the added cost worth it for lawyers in need of fast capital—often within just a day or two. Online loans are particularly useful for smaller expenditures under $150,000.
Looking for a larger loan or a traditional bank loan for your law firm? Check out The 5 Best Banks For Small Business Loans In 2021.