There are many reasons why one needs an attorney. Whether you’re thinking of getting a divorce, demanding compensation from an injury, or drawing up a will, there are many ways in which a lawyer can help you tackle your legal problems.
A lawyer canrepresent your interests in court,whether you’reaccused of a felony or filing a case as the aggrieved party. They are bound to defend you tooth and nail, once they’ve decided to take your case and defend you in court.
Choosing A Legal Counsel
While the internet may be useful to answer most of your curiosity-driven legal questions, it’s always best to consult an attorneyto know how to proceedand go about the legal process. Fortunately, you can visit firms online, like HopkinsRoden.com, and contact a competent lawyer without much hassle. But if you want to make sure that you are contacting the right firm or counsel, you must take note of the following tips:
- Identify Your Legal Problem
To be able to determine the kind of lawyer you need, you must first identify your legal problem.
Once you’ve decided to take your issues further, access online and offline resources to come up with your three best choices. This is a critical step because choosing the wrong lawyer can cost you thousands in legal fees for nothing. If the search is too overwhelming, you can resort to your personal contacts and ask for recommendations.
- Friends and Family:You may ask your family, friends, or acquaintances who may have sought the services of an attorney in the past. If your friend has a favorable impression with a legal counsel he or she once worked with, then that’s worth checking out.
- Professional Referrals:If you’ve had the chance to work with an attorney, you can ask them for recommendations. For instance, if you sought the services of a divorce lawyer, but need to work with a personal injury lawyer this time, you may want to get in touch with your previous divorce attorney as he or she might have a colleague who can competently handle your new case.
- Online Sites: As earlier discussed, you’ll find a lot of resources on the internet, including lawyer’s recommendations. There’s a slew of law-themed sites that offer advice and professional help. You may be able to find a suitable legal counsel to work on your case through these sites. However, it may get overwhelming because you’ll be faced with numerous sites and directories. To narrow your search, focus on law websites that are based in your area.
Once you’ve found a roster of legal professionals, pick a few and interact with them online for a few questions. Then, you can start researching about your prospective attorney for their credentials, qualifications, and client reviews. Take the last one with a grain of salt, though, as they could be paid testimonials. Either way, dig deeper and check your State Bar’s website to know more about your prospective counsel.
- Be Familiar with the DifferentTypes of Lawyers
Most lawyers would only specialize in a certain field of practice. Again, it is best to identify your issue to know what kind of lawyer would you need to represent your interests. Here’s a list of the different specializations that a lawyer may be practicing:
- General Practice Lawyer- practices a broad range of legal issues. You can usually find these lawyers in a newlyestablished law firm.
- Personal Injury Lawyer- if you’ve been injured or suffered damages due to the negligence of another person or organization, you need a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can handle victims of road accidents and damage to property.
- Criminal Lawyer- these lawyers typically represent individuals who are charged with crimes such as homicide, assault, and other felonies.
- Family Lawyer-these lawyershandle prenuptial agreements, divorce, adoption, custody, and other family matters.
- Estate Planning Lawyer- focuses on trusts and wills. These lawyers can also assist heirs during probate.
- Bankruptcy Lawyer-for bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings.
- Intellectual Property Lawyer-advises you about the intricacies of the laws covering intellectual property. This includescopyright, patent, and trademarks.
- Employment or Worker’s Compensation Lawyer- helps persons deal with workplace issues such as harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination, among other labor or workplace issues.
- Corporate Lawyer- covers the formation of business organizations, as well as governance and compliance to state and federal rules.
- Contract Lawyer- provides assistance to businesses in drafting, analyzing, and enforcing contracts.
- Immigration Lawyer-helpsimmigrants and their families get visas, green cards, and other immigration requirements.
- Medical Malpractice Lawyer-assists victims of medical negligence by way of misdiagnosis, wrong treatments,or fatal dosages administered by a health professional.
- Tax Lawyer-represents persons and organizations that are in trouble with thetax system.
- Real Estate Lawyer- covers transactions related to the sale, purchase, and leaseof real estate and other forms ofrelated properties.
- Social Security Disability Lawyer- helps an applicant navigate the complex processes of availing disability benefits.
- Civil Litigation Lawyer- represents clients, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, in civil courts. This could cover a vast area of legal practice, since civil cases may also include personal injury, debts, property disputes, and family matters.
- Other Factors To Consider
All this information may seem overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time getting legal services. So, aside from specialization, here are some other factors you need to consider before choosing a legal counsel.
- Consider the lawyer’s experience and years of practice.
- The lawyer should be able to explain your issue properly.
- The attorney should communicate all the options and consequences.
- In your first interaction, you should be able to assess the attorney's familiarity with the subject.
In order to come up with an informed decision, you may ask your lawyer the following questions during your first interaction:
- How long have you been practicing law in general?
- How longare you practicing this particular specialization?
- Have you had cases similar to mine or is my situation unique?
- What was the decision for majority of the cases?
- How much do your services cost?
- How many cases do you currently have?
- Can you exert all of the time and effort needed in my case?
Once you have chosen a lawyer to represent your case, here’s what you need to do before a face-to-face visit or consultation:
5 Things To Do Before Visiting Your Chosen Lawyer
- Have Your Documents Ready
No matter what kind of case you're facing, an attorney will always look for basic documents that can help bring your case together. For instance, if you’re planning to take legal action for a personal injury case borne out of a road accident, you need copies of the police report, insurance claims, receipts of medical bills, and the complete details of the other driver.
It’s best to arrange the documents in chronological order for easier access. Don’t forget to make copies of the original documents and keep everything in a safe place. Your counsel may require you to take the original documents with you, so have them ready.
For convenience, it’s best to have all the documents scanned so you can have an electronic copy. This can be very handy, especially if you’re allowed or requested to send documents via email. If you’re not sure which documents are needed, bring them to your lawyer anyway.Otherwise, you can ask the law firm’s secretary for a checklist of documents you need to prepare to make sure you don’t miss anything.
- Learn More About Your Case
To have a bit of knowledge about your legal issue(s) and in order to come up with the right questions to ask your attorney, it’s best to research the elements of your specific concerns. It may be hard, especially if you don’t have a legal background.
With patience and problem-solving skills, as well as attention to detail, you can understand more about your case.
For instance, in a workplace discrimination case, there are a few elements that you need to prove before the courts. It must be shown that the complainant is a member of a marginalized or protected class and has good standing in the workplace. The complainant alsohas to prove that there are clear elements of discrimination; that her or his promotion was bypassed for reasons that are not based on skill and competence. Knowing these elements may help you gather and store evidence that will help your lawyer strengthen the claim.
- Know How To Discuss Your Issues in an Efficient Manner
There are two ways how you can discuss matters efficiently with your lawyers. First, you can do it by discussing one element at a time, and elaborating the instances that strengthen your claims. Second, you can prepare a timeline or a chronology of events that transpired regarding your case.
Some people may be comfortable discussing chronologically, being that they can convey their thoughts better that way. Having the chronological arrangement of your documents makes discussions centered around the case easier—especially for a layperson.
Most importantly, try to be objective and truthful in discussing the issues. Include the names of the persons involved in an event for a specific date. This is essentialso that the person may easily be identified as a potential witness and called to the stand, if necessary.
After preparing your discussion notes, write down the questions you have about the case. Ask your counsel what are the legal options available, and the advantages as well as disadvantages for each legal remedy.
Your counsel may have questions that may seem a bit personal. This includes your financial situation, family set-up, previous convictions or charges, and so on. These factors are important in the overall assessment of your case and your capacity to push through with your complaints.
Filing a case before the court takes time and financial strains. You’d have to appear in court, pay lawyer’s fees, court fees, and other penalties. Even a simple felony such as driving under influence (DUI) can cost youthousands for towing and storage fees, rental fees, and other penalties.
After assessing the elements of your case and your financialcapacity,your lawyer may recommend that you don’t file a lawsuit but explore other remedies such as settlement negotiations or bargaining. This way, you may be able to demand compensation without going into a full-blown trial, which takes more time and entails huge costs.
- Don’t Hesitate to Ask About Costs
If you believe you have a valid claim and are prepared for a potentially tedious and costly legal fight, ask your legal counsel for the estimated costs. Don’t worry if you can’t afford the costs upfront, as some lawyers offer payment plans.
Some lawyers, especially in personal injury cases and workmen’s compensation cases, accept contingency fees. This means that you don’t have to pay your lawyer upfront, but he or she will get a certain percentage of the total amount of compensation that the court will grant (if you win the case).
The law is complex and being embroiled in a legal issue, whether as a defendant or a complainant, can be very stressful. A court battle can drain you—and even your loved ones—mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Hence,the best way to protect your interests and achieve justice is to choose the best lawyer who can represent your case.
You don’t have to rely on lawyers with impressive backgrounds and credentials, you just have to choose someone who is familiar with the concepts and processes involved in the kind of legal trouble that you have. Lawyers will typically have a specialization, and the more experience they have, the better chances for them to defend you competently.
Choosing the best lawyer sometimes does not rely on impressive qualifications. In the end,communication is key in establishing a good relationship with your lawyer. Honest and open communication allows the lawyer to defend your case better and win the legal battle.