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Determining When You Should Consult a Lawyer.

The old adage is that the best time to talk to a lawyer is when you don’t actually need one. Some of the reasons why you may want to speak to a lawyer include:

1. You Want to Get the Facts

A licensed lawyer that practices in the area of law in which you have questions can tell you about the applicable laws that apply to your case. Looking for information online may yield inaccurate or outdated information. A professional can provide current information based specifically in the geographic and practice area that applies to your case.

2. You Want to Ease Your Mind

Not knowing is sometimes the worst feeling in the world. It is often better to know what you are facing even if this involves negative information. To remove the feeling of paralysis, many people consult with a lawyer to learn about their options.

3. You Need to Know Options

A lawyer can provide an objective set of information about the options available in your case along with the pros and cons of each option.

4. You Want to Avoid Mistakes

While legal information is widely available on the Internet, this information is often not accurate. Even if the information is accurate, the law is a complex area that requires strict adherence to deadlines, filing requirements and procedures. Sometimes doing the work yourself can be much more expensive because then you have to hire a lawyer to fix your mistakes.

What You Gain

Some people are hesitant to seek legal information and advice because they do not want to have to pay for these services. However, what you gain often far outweighs the cost of seeking such services. Many times, a lawyer can provide the following information and benefits:

• Current laws that apply to your case

• How courts in the area have interpreted these laws

• Whether a statute of limitations or procedural deadline applies

• What steps you can take to protect yourself

• Litigation strategies

Ideal Timing

While you may not always anticipate possibly needing a lawyer, it is often better to retain legal services before a possible crisis or major event occurs such as:

• Pleading to a criminal charge

• Opening a business or forming a business

• Signing a contract such as a promissory note, lease or employment contract

• Closing a business

• Having major disagreements with employers, relatives or neighbors

• Purchasing or selling real estate or other major asset

• Getting married, separated, having a child or adopting a child

• Receiving major medical treatment in order to ensure your wishes are carried out

Selecting a Lawyer

There are certain characteristics to look for in a lawyer, including the following:

1. A lawyer that primarily practices in the area of law that is the subject of your legal issue.

2. A lawyer who treats you with respect, listens to you and addresses your concerns.

3. A lawyer who explains the options available to you and the pros and cons of each one.

4. A lawyer whom you trust. You will work closely with the lawyer to resolve your legal issues, so it is important that you and the lawyer have a good rapport.

5. A lawyer who clearly spells out the financial agreement between the two of you.

Having a signed legal services agreement is preferable since it will outline the scope of the lawyer’s work and how payment should be made.

There are also characteristics and types of lawyers to avoid. These include:

1. A lawyer who makes a guarantee. No lawyer can absolutely ensure that he or she will win the case.

2. A lawyer with ethical issues. Avoid those who have had problems in the past in maintaining client confidentiality, representing clients when there was an apparent conflict of interest or managing client funds.

3. A lawyer who advertises that he or she practices in all areas of the law. Many lawyers focus on a limited number of areas of the law to ensure that they have a working knowledge of the subject.

4. A lawyer who does not give you the attention you deserve, avoids phone calls and does not provide copies of requested information.

Finding a Lawyer

There are several ways to effectively search for a lawyer. Some suggestions include:

1. Ask for recommendations from friends and colleagues about potential lawyers to hire. If they say that the other party’s lawyer did better than their own, try to contact that lawyer.

2. Look for local bar associations for a listing of lawyers in the area who work in the specific practice area that applies to the case.

3. Review advertisements. Many lawyers heavily advertise on television, radio, the Internet and in the yellow pages. Review this information but take it with a grain of salt.

Copyright Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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