Sometimes it’s a no-brainer, such as when you get sued or when you’re arrested or charged with a crime. But keep in mind that people hire lawyers for advice and expertise all of the time, in all kinds of situations. While you may be able to get through a legal problem without hiring a lawyer, you should always remember that when you represent yourself, you might have a “fool for a client,” as the saying goes.
One of the first things to ask yourself in deciding if you should consult an attorney is: “What’s at stake?” When your finances or liberties are in serious jeopardy, the obvious answer is to get legal help. But what is serious?
An ordinary parking summons is a brush with the law, but you need not consult with an attorney to pay the fine or even to fight it. However, if you’ve accumulated a number of unpaid parking tickets and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you would probably want to hire a lawyer to help you best resolve the situation, and perhaps save you money or even keep you out of jail.
In good times as well as bad, individuals and businesses rely on their lawyer’s advice to understand and secure legal rights and financial interests. Lawyers help clients with estate planning and business negotiations, strategies and transactions. With good legal advice, clients are better prepared to comply with and navigate through the complex mazes of governmental rules and regulations.
It is also a lot easier to rest easily after consulting with experienced lawyers for important undertakings such as tax and estate planning, drafting wills and trusts, negotiating business deals and even pursuing personal family matters such as adopting children.
Before You Hire a Lawyer
It never hurts to talk to a lawyer, and it may be the best thing you can do if you think you have a legal problem that you can’t resolve yourself. If you’re persistent, you can probably arrange a free consultation with a lawyer who will talk to you on the matter.
Short of hiring a lawyer, though, you may want to look at alternative sources to resolve your legal issues.
- Ask for references. You want to talk to people who could comment on the lawyer’s skills and trustworthiness.
- Ask for a copy of a firm brochure and promotional materials. If they are available, crosscheck these materials against other sources and references.
- Ask to be provided with a copy of the lawyer’s retainer agreement and have it explained to you before decide on retaining the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm. You may end up paying a lot of money to the lawyer so make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
- Use your common sense and gut instincts to evaluate the remaining lawyers on your list. You’ll want to be comfortable with the lawyer you hire. You will also want to choose the lawyer who you think will do the best job for you