Almost everything we do is affected by laws. There are so many laws that it would take a person with an average reading skill over a thousand years just to read the law book. As if we have nothing else to do with our lives but read laws. So what do we do when a legal situation arises? Do we handle it ourselves or do we call a lawyer who’s been trained in the legal field? For many people, the thought of calling a lawyer may be frightening.
Sometimes they might not even know if they need a lawyer or how to even choose one, so they might avoid contacting a lawyer even when it is in their best interests to do so. However, do your homework before you hire a lawyer for yourself and/or your business. At the time when you are faced with serious legal or medical problems, you still need to make a good, informed decision about who will represent you. And it doesn’t have to be as hard or as costly as you may think to find a good lawyer. Provided below are some quick tips that can take the stress out of finding a lawyer.
Can I represent myself?
You have the right to represent yourself. However, the law is extremely complex and changes frequently. Unless you dedicate 100% of your time into educating yourself with all of the laws and legal procedures relevant to your case, you stand a good chance of losing. You may very easily overlook a legal aspect affecting your case that may sometimes bring unanticipated legal consequences that can be difficult and expensive to undo. So, you need to weigh the risks and benefits of representing yourself vs. hiring a lawyer to represent your case.
When do I contact a lawyer?
When faced with a problem that you think needs legal attention, you may wish to consult with a lawyer about your legal rights and responsibilities as soon as possible. Many states have deadlines for filing lawsuits especially for personal injuries. These so-called “statute of limitations” laws are designed to encourage people to promptly come forward and present their cases. But this doesn’t mean that you have to simply pick the first lawyer you bump into because you’re in a hurry, as you will learn from these tips.
How do I choose the “right” lawyer for me?
From a personal aspect, selecting a lawyer is always a personal matter. But, as with any service provider, the lawyer is just providing his/her service to his/her client. So, the lawyer-client relationship needs be based on trust and open and honest communication so the lawyer could provide the best of his/her service. It requires a mutual commitment from both the client and the lawyer. If the client is not cooperating fully, the lawyer could not provide the best of his/her service. At the same time, if the lawyer is not easily accessible and prompt in responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests, you’re going to get nothing but frustration. Hence, when choosing the “right” lawyer for your case you need to feel 100% comfortable when talking to that lawyer and feel confident in his or her abilities. If there’s even a single doubt, you need to keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence.
From a professional aspect, people often believe that simply any lawyer could handle any case. This misleading confidence frequently works to the client’s disadvantage. No lawyer is skilled in every area of the law. So, to find the “right” lawyer for your case you need not to be shy about asking your prospective lawyer questions until you gain full confidence in his or her ability. Only then would you select that lawyer. Actually, while asking the questions, you’ll be able to observe the lawyer’s responsiveness and readiness to cooperate with you. Some of the most important questions you need to ask your prospective lawyer when going through the selection process are:
- What amount of experience do you have in this area of the law (the area of your legal need)?
- Will you or one of your associates handle my case? – if an associate handles your case, that’s the person you need to interview.
- How many cases like mine have you handled? – ask for specifics for each of the cases.
- Could you provide me with references from some or each of the cases? – make sure you call each of the clients to learn about their experience.
A responsible and caring lawyer would have no problems providing you with answers. If the lawyer is giving you runarounds for each of the questions and not providing you with specific answers, you need to keep looking. Also, always check with your State Bar Association if that lawyer has been the subject of an ethical complaint or inquiry.
Where do I find a lawyer?
No matter where you look for a lawyer, always keep in mind the above tip for choosing the right lawyer for you. Nevertheless, here are a few places to look for a lawyer:
1. Yellow Pages and Advertisements – When you open your local yellow pages doesn’t it seem like the doctors and the lawyers cover half of the book with advertisements? It almost looks as if they’re the only ones having the money for full-blown ad pages. Speaking of ads, unless you have marketing/sales knowledge and experience, you would never know how advertisements work. The advertisements are developed to psychologically trigger your emotional senses and make you respond to the call of action of the ad. It’s a science of its own. So, you as an average consumer would have no idea which advertisement is telling the truth and which has the truth blown out of proportion. But, this is a very good place to at least get some names and phone numbers from local lawyers and start your selection process.
2. Your Society Circle – Your family, friends, people you work with, people you talk to, people you know of start asking around. This is one of your most reliable sources. You will have a chance to get first-hand experience. Someone who has been in the same or a similar situation could tell you about their experience (good or bad) with their lawyer. If their experience has been nothing but good, you have half of your work done. And even if no one in your society circle could refer you to a lawyer, they might know of someone else from their society circle who might have been in a similar situation. Some of the most reliable referrals come from people you trust – fellow business owners, friends, and family – who have used lawyers recently. Word of mouth from a satisfied customer generally is very reliable.
3. Bar Associations – This is another reliable source. Your local attorney bar association may maintain an attorney referral service, which is a list of their members by specialty who will consult with you for free or at a special rate set by the bar association for the first conference. The Bar Association could also tell you if a lawyer has been a subject of an ethical complaint or inquiry from past clients.
4. The Internet – Indeed the Internet. But, this is your least reliable source because everything could be put on the ‘net. However, just like with advertisements, you could use the Internet to at least get you a list of local lawyers practicing in your problem area so you could start the selection process. On the Internet, search for lawyer directories, such as Martindale.com; lawyer referral services, such as LegalMatch.com; people/business finding services, such as Anywho.com; and simply your favorite search engine