Let us start with the basics first. It is that time for us to ask ourselves whether we need a lawyer. So, what is the problem at hand? Have you been charged with a crime recently? Are you being served with a lawsuit or need a divorce from your partner? Well, lawyers are not always for criminals or divorces. It could also be that you need legal advice on a particular issue.
Receiving a skilled lawyer’s advice at a difficult time could help you understand the complex nature of the problem at hand. Whether it is business negotiations, partnerships, corporate planning, tax solutions, child adoption, real estate, and so much more, you would always need a good lawyer.
So, how do you find the perfect lawyer best suited for your issue? There are so many out there. How do we find the one that is good for our case?
You need to look for one who works in your jurisdiction. Usually, lawyers do have a license to practice in a specific state or area. This could sort out the names of some top lawyers in your area. You can zero down on a lawyer who specializes in the particular issue you are looking at. For example, if you are looking to search for a real estate lawyer, and your issue is the registration of your properties, you need to look for a lawyer who specializes in the registry of residences. Once you have taken a good note of the specialized lawyers in your area, you need to look at the budget and a rough timeline of the case in hand. This will help you determine the budget for your legal help. Then, you can look at narrowing down that list by tallying them up within your budget.
You might have to decide whether it is necessary to go with a specialist or a generalist if you need to keep a check on the budget.
Now, once you find your budget-friendly lawyers, you might start presenting your case to the interested attorneys.
Qualities to look for in Your Potential Advocate
- Comfort Factor
The most important quality you should look for in your lawyer is the comfort level with him/her in discussing your problems. A comfortable and honest professional relationship will help you in sharing important information with your lawyer. Also, open up about any facts that you might not want to open up in the courts, but it would be much better if your lawyer knew about all of them. It is essential to remain transparent with your lawyer. Your attorney cannot provide you with any assistance if he/she does not know about all the relevant details in your case.
- Level of Experience
It is not important to find a legal expert who specializes in a problem that you have. But it’s always better to find a person who is either a specialist or has some level of exposure to a similar kind of problem or the case you have. If it is business linked, the attorney should have some experience dealing with similar cases, if not the same case as yours. You shouldn’t approach someone who specializes in marriage laws for your tax-related problems.
- Understanding the Problem
Whether your problem is a big one or just a simple little one, you still need a person who is willing to understand all aspects of your case. He/ she needs to know what you are expecting out of him and if you both are on the same page on most things related to your case.
- Background Check
Before you finalize your lawyer, you should run a background check on the advocate you found or referred to by your friend. You can always rely on the internet and people who know a lawyer to turn to in a time like this. So, check all his records and success stories to be completely sure of your choice, and it might also help you get a rough picture of what you might expect from him.
- Communication is key
It helps if you always try to find out who the lawyer is and how well he can communicate and understand what you share. This is because you would be discussing the nitty-gritty of your case with him shortly, and you do not want to waste your time with a person who does not understand you. Though it is difficult to find a person who communicates well, this is a key point to look at when you are finalizing your lawyer. Investing a little bit of time in finalizing your advocate is much better than being stuck with a difficult person with whom you cannot communicate properly.
- Check availability
You need to find a person who is also available for the dates you need him/her for. Usually, advocates are people who keep busy with their scheduled meetings and court presentations. It isn’t easy to find someone available to take your calls and answer all your queries. Importantly, he/she should be able to respond to your calls or messages at the earliest.
- Building Bond
It would help if you built a bond with your advocate so that you can get along well with him. A good relationship always ensures a better relationship and a much better positive result in the future.
- A transparent fee structure
Buy now everybody knows how exorbitantly an advocate could be charging you to determine whether or not he/she wants to take up your case further. It could be a very challenging time to find the best-suited lawyer for yourself when the fees are sky-touching. The fees can depend on the location, size of your project or case, the reputation of the advocate you opt for, and the firm as well. So, a good advocate will always maintain a very clear, transparent fee structure for your case and this would also give you a rough timeline to work. So, it would be best if you finalized a lawyer who charges you accordingly to your budget or meet your expectations.
How can you find a good lawyer when you do not have a budget?
If you want to create a will or get a divorce, it is always best for you to approach legal help with the help of a reputed lawyer. In terms of legal matters, you need someone who will understand the laws of your country and the rules that apply specifically to your case.
In legal matters, you need someone who knows the laws in your State to appear with you in court. But, then how do you know that the one you have found is the best for you?
Truly, lawyers can be very expensive, but there are several ways in which you can hire a decent lawyer if you have do not earn a lot. But worry not. You can always contact a legal aid society. Or simply find an independent pro bono lawyer. Another option for you is to arrange a payment plan that can work for you.
How to find: Legal help for Free
- Check out government-funded programs
Many such legal help programs operate on State grants. Legal aid programs already employ lawyers and paralegals; mainly, to offer free legal services to the people who are eligible to avail themselves, though your income must be below a certain amount.
- Find a local pro bono program
The Bar Associations often offer free legal help through pro bono programs. If you qualify for free legal advice, you will be matched with the Lawyers who are willing to work for free. Or on a ‘pro bono’ basis. Various non-profit organizations are working to provide free legal help to the ones in need. To qualify, you may be asked to prove that your income is low. Local Bar associations and a few private law firms offer such programs.
- Reach out to self-help clinic
Free self-help clinics are there in many states. Mainly to provide free legal advice to anyone who asks for it. Some of the clinics accept questions in person, while others ask them to be submitted online. The questions are answered either by the Lawyers or by Paralegals. Mostly, the whole process is kept confidential.
Self-help legal clinics are good,only if you want your question to be answered;even if your queries regarding the procedure or methods have to be answered. However, it does not mean that you get a lawyer who can exactly help you.
- Call the legal hotline
People in some situations, such as domestic abuse victims, can take advice from legal hotlines. Sometimes, the advice is really free of cost. But, sometimes they charge a low fee. And you can search for a legal hotline in your State. Find out the one that will give you appropriate advice for your case.
- Look for a local law school
Many law schools are running legal clinics to give the students a practical experience. These law schools clinic can take up civil or criminal matters. Or even take up a particular type of matter, such as a domestic violence clinic. In these clinics, law students generally offer legal help under the supervision of law professors. Though, it is true that the law students are no licensed advocates. But they are often are supervised by their experienced law professors. Mostly, they are the ones who make sure that everything on the case is taken care of in the best possible way.
- Go with a court-appointed lawyer
If you are accused in some criminal case, you have all the rights to a lawyer, and you can always even fight your case. Though you cannot afford to hire a private advocate, you can get a court-appointed advocate. Basically, you will only need to provide information about your income to prove that you cannot hire a better advocate. Find a suitable payment plan for yourself.
- Look for a sliding-fee program
Suppose your income is too high to qualify for free legal services that you may opt for a sliding fee program with affordable advocate fees. Each State designs this program to help people with moderate income handle issues without paying a considerable sum of money. You can find such a program in your state by contacting your State’s bar association or look for one online.
- You can choose to work out a discount with your lawyer
Some lawyers will work out a plan for the payment so that you are not required to pay all the fees at one go. You can also choose to opt for a plan to pay in installments or every month. This could be until the time that the amount you owe is fully paid. This depends on the will of an advocate that he wants to provide for such a payment plan. Before going to a lawyer’s office, you should first contact him/her. Always insist on asking about how he/she would want to accept the payment plan and proceed if the court makes it a longer and much difficult one to fight.
Can you pay a contingency fee?
What is a contingency fee? Well, it means that you have to pay the advocate only when the case results are in your favor. If you lose the case, you don’t need to pay the lawyer’s fee anymore. Though, it could be a bit tricky. But, you should know that a contingency fee arrangement always varies in percentage. But 30-40% is common. However, you may be responsible for expenses in this arrangement. This is even if you do not owe any fees. First, make it clear to the lawyer that you are responsible for the kind of expenses from the beginning.
Hire a young lawyer
Young lawyers who are new to the profession are up to date with the current legal developments, but they may have fewer clients. It means that they have much more time to devote to your case. They may also charge less as they are less in demand as they have few years of experience. Young lawyers are also in need of making their name in the profession. Therefore, they spend a lot of energy representing you as efficiently as they can.