Finding A Good Lawyer: Where Should You Start?
When looking for a lawyer, what should I look for?
Because the lawyer will be assisting you in resolving your problems, the first requirement is that you feel comfortable telling him or her all of the facts essential to settle your situation, honestly and thoroughly. Nothing you hear or read can ensure that a certain lawyer is the best for you; you must make that determination for yourself.
When choosing a lawyer, are there any practical aspects to keep in mind?
Yes, the lawyer’s specialization and prior experience are crucial. Many states have specialty programs that allow lawyers to be certified as specialists in specific areas of law. Some legal specialties, such as the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils and the National Elder Law Foundation, have developed their own certification programs. You might also inquire about the types of situations that your lawyer typically handles. What is the scope of that attorney’s practice? (e.g. 50 percent personal injury cases, 25 percent divorce cases, and 25 percent “other.”) Keep in mind that while most lawyers are not certified in a specialty, this does not always imply that a bankruptcy lawyer san diego is not an expert in that field, especially if the lawyer handles a large number of cases in that practice area.
Other factors to consider are the lawyer’s office location, costs, and the amount of time a case can take.
Where do I begin my search for a lawyer?
There are numerous methods for locating a trustworthy attorney. A referral from a trusted friend, relative, or business acquaintance is one of the best. However, keep in mind that each legal matter is unique, and a lawyer who is great for someone else may not be right for you or your legal issue.
Is it a smart idea to hunt for a lawyer via classified ads?
Yes, advertisements are beneficial in some respects. Always be wary of accepting everything you read and hear, and this is especially true when it comes to marketing. Newspaper, telephone directory, radio, television, and Internet advertisements, as well as direct mail, can help you learn the names of lawyers who might be suitable for your legal needs. Some advertisements will also assist you in determining a lawyer’s area of specialization. Other advertisements will state a charge or a range of fees for addressing a particular type of “simple” case. Keep in mind that your situation might not have a straightforward answer. If a lawyer quotes a cost, be sure you understand exactly what services and expenses the fee includes and excludes.
What about a referral service in your area?
To assist people in finding lawyers, most localities establish referral services. You might be able to discover them in your yellow pages under “Lawyer Referral Service” or something similar. These agencies normally refer you to a local lawyer who can assess your circumstances. Several services cater to groups with special needs, such as the elderly, immigrants, domestic violence victims, and those with disabilities.
In most towns, bar associations give suggestions based on certain areas of law, assisting you in finding a lawyer with the relevant expertise and practice concentration. Many referral systems impose qualification requirements on lawyers seeking referrals in a certain area of law. Your local bar organization can be found in the white pages of the phone book under the name of your municipality (“Centerville Bar Association”) or your county (“Cass County Bar Association”). Your bar’s website can also be found via your favorite search engine or the American Bar Association’s interactive state-by-state lawyer-referral directory.
These services, however, are not a guarantee that you will locate the greatest lawyer or the perfect lawyer for you. Some agencies provide referrals regardless of the type or amount of experience of the lawyer. You might wish to look for a legal referral service that is part of the American Bar Association’s certification program, which employs a logo to identify lawyer referral services that meet the ABA’s quality requirements.
A prepaid legal services plan is available at my new employment. What can I anticipate?
Legal services, like many other items, are frequently cheaper when purchased in bulk. Some businesses, labor unions, and other organizations have developed “legal insurance” programs. These plans differ. In routine legal situations, many cover the majority, if not all, of the costs of legal consultations, document preparation, and court representation. Other programs merely include legal advice and consultation. Make sure you understand a legal plan’s coverage and whether you’ll be forced to make out-of-pocket contributions before enrolling. These programs are structured similarly to group or cooperative medical insurance policies. Employers or unions set up a fund to cover legal bills for their employees, with the employee making a tiny co-payment in some cases. In recent years, legal group plans have become significantly more common. Customers of some major department stores and credit card firms can take advantage of such arrangements.
I’d like to hire a lawyer, but I’m short on cash. Where can I get low-cost legal assistance?
Several legal aid programs provide low-cost or no-cost legal services to individuals in need. Look for “legal clinics,” “legal help,” or “legal counsel” in the yellow pages or on the internet. Most legal assistance programs have specific qualifying requirements, which are generally based on where you live, your family size, and your income. Some legal help organizations employ their own lawyers, while others rely on volunteer attorneys. In civil legal disputes, people do not have a right to a free lawyer.
I’ve been charged with a crime, but I can’t afford to hire a counsel. What options do I have?
If you are charged with a crime, the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to be represented by a lawyer in any case where you could face a six-month or longer sentence. For minor offenses, state constitutions may guarantee your access to a lawyer. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the judge hearing your case will either appoint a private lawyer to represent you for free or the government’s public defender will take care of your case for free.
Is there any additional government support available besides court-appointed defenders?
Both the state and federal governments frequently have staff lawyers who can assist the general people in limited situations for no charge. If you have specific concerns, such as environmental issues or employment or housing discrimination, you should contact the appropriate federal agency.