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How should you choose a lawyer?

When do you need a lawyer?

If you need legal advice, you need a lawyer. People use lawyers for many reasons – business and personal. Lawyers deal with a wide range of cases including wills, leases, contracts, separation agreements, divorces. Lawyers also work on criminal cases like impaired driving and assault. Lawyers are trained to understand and interpret the law. They defend your rights and tell you how the law applies to your business or personal situation.

Why use a lawyer instead of a notary public?

A lawyer has much more training in the law and can give you service that is more complete in a wider range of areas. For example, if a will or real estate transaction turns out to be complicated, a notary may need to send you to a lawyer for legal advice.

Most lawyers get a university degree before they go to law school. At law school, they study law full-time for three years. Then they take 10 weeks of intensive training and must pass a series of bar admission exams.

Why use a lawyer for simple legal procedures?

Things that look simple may actually be complex. People sometimes think that because procedures and forms look simple, the legal service is also simple. But legal transactions are often complex. Lawyers analyze how the law applies to your case. They do this groundwork before advising you how the law applies to you and which procedures or forms you need.

Laws change daily, so do their effects. Lawyers understand, apply, and explain those laws to you. Why not be prepared for all situations by using a lawyer from the start?

Are lawyers' fees competitive?

How should you choose a lawyer?

Most of us use a lawyer only rarely, if ever. So if we need a lawyer, we often don't know how to find one.

- Start with a lawyer you've used before

If you have used a lawyer before, start with that lawyer. For example, if you are getting divorced and the only lawyer you have ever used is the one who did your will, that lawyer may not be the best one to handle your divorce. Instead, you probably want a lawyer with experience in divorces. Lawyers, especially those in large cities, tend to work in certain areas of law. But they don't specialize like doctors do – there are no exams a lawyer can write to become a specialist in divorce or any other area.

- Ask friends for recommendations

If you’ve never used a lawyer, ask friends and acquaintances to recommend a lawyer they used for similar problems. A personal recommendation is usually a good way to choose any professional. You could also ask your doctor, accountant, or financial advisor. Often, they know lawyers who do divorce and other cases. Your employer may have a lawyer on staff, or you can ask your union lawyer for a recommendation. Always describe your problem in detail.

- Phone the lawyer and make an appointment. Tell the lawyer that Lawyer Referral Service sent you. The lawyer will give you up to a 30-minute appointment for $25. At the appointment, the lawyer will tell you if you have a legal problem. Then, if you and the lawyer agree, you can hire that lawyer at their normal rate. But you don't have to use that lawyer. You may decide you don't have a legal problem and don't need a lawyer. Or you may decide to shop around and find another lawyer.

Once you choose a lawyer – one you are comfortable with and whose advice you value – carefully prepare for your first interview with the lawyer. You can still change lawyers after the first interview – or at any time  – if you’re not happy with the lawyer.


Collect and organize your information.

You have to give the lawyer a clear picture of your problem and goal. Make notes of all the facts of your case, in an organized way – usually chronologically (by time). Gather and organize all the documents on your case. Bring the notes and documents to the interview. For example, if you had a car accident, write everything you remember about how the accident happened and your injuries. Draw a diagram of the accident scene. List all your expenses. Bring all your receipts and paperwork, like accident and insurance reports. This lets the lawyer advise you properly and quickly.

Ask lots of questions.

Use the first interview to get as much information as you can. Even if you got the lawyer's name through Lawyer Referral Service, there is no guarantee that this lawyer is right for you. Ask questions, such as:

Does the lawyer have experience in your type of problem?

Does the case interest the lawyer?

How long will your case probably take?

Can the lawyer work on your case right away, or will you have to wait until other cases end? Will that make a difference to your case?

What steps will solve your problem and how much time will each step likely take?

How much will your case cost? See the next section for more on costs.

Ask about fees and disbursements (expenses).

Always ask about fees and expenses in the first interview. Ask the lawyer to estimate about how much it will cost to solve your problem – including fees and expenses (called disbursements). How will the lawyer bill you: monthly or at the end of the case? How does the lawyer charge – a flat rate, by the hour, or a percentage of what you win?

Ask if you have a strong case.

Ask the lawyer for a realistic opinion of your case and your chance of winning. Should you settle the case, instead of suing? Can you do anything to reduce the lawyer’s time on your case, and to reduce your costs?

Problems between lawyers and clients often result from a lack of communication. So if problems come up, talk or write to your lawyer. 

Категорія: Pravo | Додав: advocate (2012-04-02)
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