I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. Laws vary in each state. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
When you own a judgment, you have only a chance of being paid. The chances of getting any money for your judgment depends mostly on your judgment debtor and the economy. There are several possible solutions to attempt to pay off your judgment, and you must find the right solution for both your judgment and your comfort level.
Possible judgment solutions include doing nothing, recovering it yourself, finding a cash up-front buyer for your judgment, a collection lawyer, a contingency collections lawyer, a judgment enforcer, or a collection agency. Here are some pros and cons of each solution:
Do nothing – many judgment owners end up doing this. They do not recover the judgment, or look for help to recover the judgment. This is an easy option, however the result is almost always zero.
Recover the judgment yourself – the pros are you do not have to share any part of a potential recovery with anyone, and you control and do everything. The cons are you control, do, and spend for everything. Judgment recovery is expensive and time consuming, and with this option, you take on all the financial risks. Judgment enforcement laws and procedures are relatively difficult and expensive.
Find a cash up-front judgment buyer – the pros are you will be finished with the judgment and get some cash for it. The cons are you usually get only a few pennies on the dollar, and when your debtor seems really poor, it will be very difficult to sell your judgment.
Find a collection lawyer – the pros are you usually get the work you pay for, because most collection lawyers work hard when you pay them by the hour. The cons are there is no guarantee any money will be recovered from your judgment debtor, so you may end up spending more money, and getting no results.
Find a contingency collections lawyer – the pro is they will try to recover your judgment without charging you an up-front hourly fee. The cons are you sometimes have to pay the costs along the way, and your judgment debtor must have a lot of assets to interest a contingency collection lawyer.
Find a judgment enforcer – the pros are they are almost always pure contingency with no costs to you, and are only paid for success, and will take many judgments that are not right for a lawyer. The con is there are a lot of unreliable people out there. Using a judgment broker helps you avoid the flakes.
Find a collection agency – the pros are they take judgments and debts in almost every state. This can make sense, especially for small claims judgments in states where the courts do not allow small claim judgments to be assigned, or where assignees of record cannot request that Sheriffs perform bank or wage levies. The cons are most do not work on judgments, and most (but not those referred by a judgment broker) collection agencies use the telephone and letters only, which does not often persuade judgment debtors to pay.
Every judgment is different, and the solution for one judgment will probably not be the same for another judgment. Directory and referral services such as state bars and judgment brokers, can increase the chances you will recover some money for your judgment, and save you a lot of time.