You’ve thought about it carefully and you’ve decided that you need to contact a lawyer. The big problem is—how to find one? This section will give you some tips on what to look for when choosing a lawyer, and lead you through some questions you can ask a lawyer when you first meet. If you do your homework, you can hire the lawyer who has the experience and expertise to help you with your problem.
Most people don’t have a "regular" lawyer, in the sense that they have one or more doctors that they see at least annually. So how do you find the lawyer who’s right for you? Where do you turn for recommendations?
What should I look for when choosing a lawyer?
The lawyer will be helping you solve your problems, so the first qualification is that you must feel comfortable enough to tell him or her, honestly and completely, all the facts necessary to resolve your problem. No one you listen to and nothing you read will be able to guarantee that a particular lawyer will be the best for you; you must judge that for yourself.
Are there any practical considerations to keep in mind when choosing a lawyer?
Yes, the lawyer’s area of expertise and prior experience are important. Many states have specialization programs that certify lawyers as specialists in certain types of law. Some legal specialties also have created their own certification programs, such as the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, and the National Elder Law Foundation. You may also wish to ask about the type of cases your lawyer generally handles. What is the breakdown of that lawyer’s practice (e.g. 50 percent personal injury cases, 25 percent divorce cases and 25 percent "other.") Keep in mind that most lawyers are not certified in a specialty, but that does not necessarily mean that a specific lawyer is not an expert in a specific field, particularly where a lawyer handles a high volume of cases in a particular practice area.
Other considerations are the convenience of the lawyer’s office location, fees charged, and the length of time a case may take.
Where should I start to look for a lawyer?
There are many ways to find a reliable lawyer. One of the best is a recommendation from a trusted friend, relative, or business associate. Be aware, however, that each legal case is different and that a lawyer who is right for someone else may not suit you or your legal problem.
Are advertisements a good place to look for a lawyer?
In some ways, yes, ads are useful. However, always be careful about believing everything you read and hear—and nowhere is this truer than with advertisements. Newspaper, telephone directory, radio, television, and Internet ads, along with direct mail, can make you familiar with the names of lawyers who may be appropriate for your legal needs. Some ads also will help you determine a lawyer’s area of expertise. Other ads will quote a fee or price range for handling a specific type of “simple” case. Keep in mind that your case may not have a simple solution. If a lawyer quotes a fee, be certain you know exactly what services and expenses the charge does and does not include.
What about a local referral service?
Most communities have referral services to help people find lawyers. You might be able to find them under “Lawyer Referral Service” or something similar in your yellow pages. These services usually recommend a lawyer in the area to evaluate a situation. Several services offer help to groups with unique characteristics, such as the elderly, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, or persons with a disability.
Bar associations in most communities make referrals according to specific areas of law, helping you find a lawyer with the right experience and practice concentration. Many referral services also have competency requirements for lawyers who wish to have referrals in a particular area of law. You can find your local bar association in the phone book’s white pages either under your community’s name (“Centerville Bar Association”) or under your county’s name (“Cass County Bar Association”). You can also find your bar’s website through your favorite search engine, or through the ABA’s interactive state-by-state lawyer-referral directory.
Still, these services are not a surefire way to find the best lawyer or the right lawyer for you. Some services make referrals without concern for the lawyer’s type or level of experience. You may want to seek out a lawyer referral service that participates in the American Bar Association-sponsored certification program, which uses a logo to identify lawyer referral programs that comply with certain quality standards developed by the ABA.
My new job offers a prepaid legal services plan. What can I expect?
Legal services, like many other things, are often less expensive when bought in bulk. Some employers, labor and credit unions, and other groups have formed “legal insurance” plans. These plans vary. Many cover most, if not all, of the cost of legal consultations, document preparation, and court representation in routine legal matters. Other programs cover only advice and consultation with a lawyer. Before joining a legal plan, make sure you are familiar with its coverage and know whether you will be required to make out–of–pocket contributions. These group plans follow the same pattern as group or cooperative medical insurance plans. Employers or unions set up a fund to pay the employees’ legal fees, with the employee sometimes contributing a small co-payment. Legal group plans have become much more widespread in recent years. Some retail department stores and credit card companies even offer such plans to their customers.
I want to hire a lawyer, but I do not have much money. Where can I find low-cost legal help?
Several legal assistance programs offer inexpensive or free legal services to those in need. Look in the yellow pages under topics such as “legal clinics,” “legal aid,” or “legal advice,” or search online. Most legal aid programs have special guidelines for eligibility, often based on where you live, the size of your family, and your income. Some legal aid offices have their own staff lawyers, and others operate with volunteer lawyers. Note that people do not have a right to a free lawyer in civil legal matters.
I have been accused of a crime, and I cannot afford a lawyer. What can I do?
If you are accused of a crime, the U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to be represented by a lawyer in any case in which you could be incarcerated for six months or more. State constitutions may guarantee your right to a lawyer for lesser crimes. If you cannot afford a lawyer, either the judge hearing the case will appoint a private lawyer to represent you free of charge or the government’s public defender will handle your case, also at no charge.
Besides court-appointed defenders, is there any other form of government assistance available?
Departments and agencies of both the state and federal governments often have staff lawyers who can help the general public in limited situations, without charge. Consider contacting the relevant federal agency if you have specific concerns, such as environmental protection problems or discrimination in employment or housing.
Your State’s Attorney General also may provide guidance to the public on state laws, without charge. Some states, for example, maintain consumer protection departments as a function of the Attorney General’s office. Similarly, through their law departments, counties, cities, and townships often have government lawyers who may provide the public with guidance about local laws. Some of these local offices also offer consumer protection assistance. To find such agencies, check the government listings in your phone book or using your favorite search engine on the Internet.
We help people answer a lot of financial (and many that are more emotional than financial) questions at Financial Finesse. However, one type of question that we can’t answer is a legal one regarding issues like filing for bankruptcy, drafting an estate plan, or litigating a legal dispute. So despite all those lawyer jokes we love, we do need them from time to time. But where and how can you find a good one?
One place to start is with your employer. Ask if your employer offers discounted legal services through either a specialized program or a more general EAP (employee assistance program). While you may not find Johnny Cochran this way, it can be a great resource to get basic legal documents like a simple will and power of attorney done at a reasonable cost or to see if it’s worth taking the next step in a more complex situation. For example, if your EAP offers a free 30-min legal consultation, you can use that time to figure out if bankruptcy might make sense or to see if you might have a valid legal claim to file a lawsuit before hiring a more expensive attorney. You can also get free legal information and find out about pro bono legal services on a site like lawhelp.org.
Once you’re ready to hire an attorney, your next step can be to ask family members, friends, and other professionals you work with for recommendations. Lawyers that you or someone else knows can be useful even if they practice in a different area because lawyers tend to know other lawyers and most importantly, which ones are most reputable. The same can be said for CPAs and financial advisers. After all, much of their professional success depends on building these relationships since so much of their business comes from referrals.
You can also try your state or local bar association’s lawyer referral service. This will at least provide you with local attorneys who practice in the area that you need. You can find your local site through the American Bar Association’s national Lawyer Referral Directory.
Once you’ve found some prospects, don’t just hire one because they happen to be first on the list. Choosing the wrong attorney can end up costing you a lot of time and money so you’ll want to interview at least 3. First, make sure the attorneys actually offer the service you’re looking for. Second, check your State Bar’s website to see if any disciplinary actions have been placed against them. You can then ask them some questions:
Who exactly will I be working with? You don’t want to find an attorney you really like only to discover that you’re handed off to a junior associate who you don’t like so much.
What are your credentials? Every lawyer admitted to the bar in your state is technically qualified to practice law but they may have also obtained a specialization, a credential like the AEP designation (Accredited Estate Planner), or an LLM (Master of Laws) in an area like tax law.
How much experience do you have working with clients like me in similar situations? You don’t necessarily want your son’s friend’s DUI lawyer drafting his first trust for you.
How would you be paid? If you’re paying a fixed fee or an hourly rate, you’ll want some idea of what this would cost you and whether it’s worth it.
Do you have any questions for me? A good attorney will be focused on your situation and needs rather than theirs.
Finally, you’ll want to work with someone you like and trust so don’t discount the importance of personality and personal chemistry. In any case, I hope these tips help you choose a good attorney. The last thing you need is another excuse for bad lawyer jokes.
Are you looking for an unbiased answer to your own financial question? Once a week, we’ll be responding on this blog to questions from our Financial Helpline or posted on our Twitter or Facebook site.
Liz Davidson is the founder and CEO of Financial Finesse, the leading provider of unbiased financial education for employers nationwide, delivered by on-staff CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. For additional financial tips and insights, follow Financial Finesse on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Choosing a good lawyer is like choosing any other product or service. It’s best to do thorough research to help you make an informed decision. Once you secure several lawyer referrals with expertise in the appropriate practice area, you should carefully research each candidate. Below are some simple steps to choosing the best lawyer for your legal needs.
Conducting Candidate Interviews
One of the best ways to assess a lawyer’s legal ability is by interviewing them. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation—usually an hour or less—at no charge. Below are a few questions to consider:
- What experience does the lawyer have in your type of legal matter?
- How long have they been in practice?
- What is their track record of success?
- What percentage of their caseload is dedicated to handling your type of legal problem?
- Do they have any special skills or certifications?
- What are their fees and how are they structured?
- Do they carry malpractice insurance? If so, how much?
- Who else would be working on your case and what are their rates?
- Do they outsource any key legal tasks for functions?
- What additional costs may be involved in addition to lawyer fees (postage, filing fees, copy fees, etc.)?
- How often will you be billed?
- Can they provide references from other clients?
- Do they have a written fee agreement or representation agreement?
- How will they inform you of developments in your case?
Keep in mind that a higher fee does not necessarily equate with a more qualified attorney. Consequently, a rock bottom fee may signal problems, inexperience, or incompetence. After meeting with the lawyer, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the lawyer’s experience and background compatible with your legal needs?
- Did they provide prompt and courteous responses to your questions?
- Are they someone with whom you feel comfortable?
- Are you confident they possess the skills and experience to handle your case?
- Are you comfortable with the fees and how they are structured?
- Are you comfortable with the terms of the fee agreement and/or representation agreement?
Asking Other Attorneys
Lawyers know the skill and reputation of other lawyers. Attorneys may be able to provide information about a fellow lawyer that you may not find in a book or online, such as information about a lawyer’s ethics, competence level, demeanor, practice habits, and reputation.
Conducting a Background Check
Before hiring any lawyer, contact the lawyer disciplinary agency in your state to confirm that they are in good standing as a member of the bar. For an online listing of each state's lawyer disciplinary agency, review this directory of lawyer disciplinary agencies.
You should always check references, especially if you located the attorney through the Internet. You can also check a lawyer’s peer review ratings online at Martindale.com. Peer review ratings provide an objective indicator of a lawyer's ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada.
Touring the Lawyer’s Office
You can tell a lot about an attorney from their law office. Request a brief tour of their office, beyond the office or conference room where you met with the lawyer. Is the law office neat, orderly, efficient and well-run? What kind of support staff does the lawyer employ? Does the staff appear friendly and helpful? Is the lawyer’s office local and easily accessible? Is a large portion of his office space unoccupied? Watch for red flags, such as mass disarray, unhappy staff members, and empty offices.
If you are looking to hire a lawyer, you’ll find no shortage of legal talent. The United States holds 5% of the world’s population and 70% of its lawyers. Law schools awarded 43,588 J.D.s per year on average, up 11.5 percent since 2000, and the United States boasts one lawyer for every 200 U.S. citizens.
With a record number of practicing lawyers in the U.S., finding a lawyer for your legal needs is no easy task. The best way to find a lawyer is through word of mouth and referrals. Wide variations exist in the skill level and expertise of each lawyer so recommendations from friends and acquaintances are a good way to locate quality legal talent.
The nature of your legal problem will determine the type of lawyer you need to hire. Most lawyers concentrate their practice in a few legal specialties such as family law, criminal law, employment law, personal injury law, bankruptcy or civil litigation. Therefore, it is important to retain a lawyer with expertise and experience in the practice area for which you require his services. Below are a few of the best resources available to help you find a lawyer that fits your needs.
Word of Mouth and Referrals
Word of mouth and referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors, business associates, and acquaintances are the best way to find a lawyer. These individuals have no vested interest, financial or otherwise, in recommending a certain attorney and can communicate any positives or problems they encountered in their dealings with a particular attorney or law firm. While it is tempting to hire a friend or relative for your case, this may not be your best strategy. If the friend or relative specializes in an area of law outside your needs, he or she may not be competent to address your particular legal issue.
Local Bar Associations
Another great resource for finding a lawyer in your area is your local bar association. Most county and city bar associations offer lawyer referral services to the public although they do not necessarily screen for qualifications. The American Bar Association also maintains a database which offers assistance to consumers seeking legal help.
Lawyers can often recommend other lawyers in the legal community who can assist you with your specific needs. Legal circles are small and most lawyers will know several other lawyers who specialize in the practice area for which you seek advice. Lawyers are also aware of other lawyer’s reputations in a particular practice field. Keep in mind, however, that lawyers often receive referral fees when they refer a case to another lawyer which may influence their decision as to whom they recommend.
Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory
Available at your local public library or law library, this directory of lawyers is an authoritative resource for information on the worldwide legal profession. Martindale-Hubbell also offers an online lawyer locator service which contains a database of over one million lawyers and law firms in 160 countries. To find a lawyer, you can search by practice area or geographic location.
A number of for-profit directories on the Internet offer search vehicles through which you can find a lawyer. A few of these sites are lawyers.com, legalmatch.com, attorney.locate.com, lawyershop.com, attorneyfind.com and attorneypages.com.
Legal Aid Services
If you need a lawyer but cannot afford one, you can contact your local legal aid office, an organization that provides free or pro bono legal assistance to low-income individuals in non-criminal matters. Check the white pages of your telephone directory or type in “Legal Aid [insert the name of your county of state]” into an Internet search engine to find local legal aid providers near you.
If you seek legal assistance, finding a qualified lawyer is only the first step. The next step is choosing the best attorney for your legal needs. For tips on how to choose the best lawyer for your case, see How to Choose a Lawyer.
Wanna know 9 tips for choosing the best lawyer in 2021? Read on to find out!
tips for choosing the best lawyer
9 Tips For Choosing The Best Lawyer In 2021
Every so often, even the best of us gets in trouble with the law. When it happens, you’ll need an attorney to represent you. The question is, where to start looking? If you do find an attorney, how do you know it’s the right one for your case? For the remainder of this article, we will discuss tips for choosing the best lawyer in 2021 to represent you in criminal court.
Why You Need an Attorney
Few people succeed in defending themselves in a criminal case. And many wonder if they really need to hire an attorney.
Even in today’s world, one would think this is common knowledge. People still don’t heed this warning and find themselves in much more trouble than if they had hired a lawyer, to begin with.
Here are some tips for choosing the best lawyer
An attorney is there to represent you in your criminal case. They will work to get the best result possible on your behalf in court. When charged in any criminal case, the first step is to contact an attorney that meets your needs for an adequate defense.
Tips for Choosing an Attorney
Finding the best lawyer for your defense is not difficult with a little research and an interview session with the prospective attorney. It’s important to find the best attorney for representation. As you know, a criminal record will affect your job and your future if not handled properly.
Follow along as we outline the best ways to choose a lawyer.
You should hire a local lawyer
1. Hire locally
Each city and town across the country has its share of excellent attorneys who will represent your case. This doesn’t mean they are the best fit for you. The city or county where your case is pending is where to find the attorney to represent you. A local criminal lawyer has advantages over others outside of the area they serve.
Lawyers working in the same court systems understand the nuances of prosecutors and judges they work with every day. When you hire an attorney from outside of the area, they are not familiar with these nuances and will not be as effective as a local attorney.
2. The Lawyer Needs to Be Experienced in Defending Your Type of Case
Lawyers specialize in the type of cases they serve. You wouldn’t hire a chiropractor to perform your heart surgery. In the same respect, you would never hire a probate attorney to represent you if you are facing drug charges or a DWI charge.
During the interview with your prospective attorney, make sure to ask the criminal defense attorney about their experience in handling cases similar to your case. If they don’t simply say thank you for your time and move on. Don’t use yourself as a test case for an inexperienced lawyer to gain exposure to a new law field.
Do I need a lawyer? Yes. You really should hire the best one you can find!
3. Check Client Reviews
In today’s world, everything is captured online, including reviews. Before hiring an attorney, take the time to research any reviews that other clients left behind. You certainly do not want to walk into a courtroom with a lawyer who has only bad reviews on their work. All businesses have some negative reviews; you must weigh the good and the bad to get a sense of what the attorney is capable of.
4. Who Will Represent You?
Be careful of all criminal law firms who advertise that their top lawyer will represent you in court, when in fact, you receive the guidance of an underling. If this is clear upfront and you accept it, then proceed. Be sure to ask who will be representing you in court during your interview. You are paying the firm for the expertise of the advertised attorney. Don’t settle for anything less.
5. Positive Success Rate
The lawyer that you hire does not need to be a famous attorney like Perry Mason who never lost a case on TV. They need, however, to have a success rate that makes you feel confident they can handle your case. When interviewing with lawyers, feel free to ask about their success rate in the courtroom. Those who have done well will be more than glad to let you know how accomplished they are.
6. Trust Your Initial Judgement
Lawyers are people just like the rest of us. During the interview, you will get a sense of how you feel about their personality, confidence, and trustworthiness. If at any time you think they will not live up to their oath to defend you, it is time to move on. Our instincts about others helped us survive in the wild. The same instincts will protect you from hiring someone you don’t trust.
7. The Lawyer Needs to Show Interest
In the same scope of using your initial judgment, another value to look for is how much enthusiasm the lawyer has in your case. When speaking to you about your case, does it seem they are only trying to get you out of the office? Are they answering all of your questions, no matter how insignificant? Make sure when hiring a lawyer, their time spent with you is about you and your case only.
8. They Need to Be Detail Oriented
Did your lawyer forget your name? Details of your case? Most attorneys are extremely busy. The best ones are detailed oriented enough to organize their thoughts and be on point for your case. If they appear to lack basic organization skills, how would they ever defend your case properly?
A good lawyer doesn’t have to break the bank!
9. A Good Lawyer Should Not Break the Bank
A lawyer bases their rate on the concept of supply and demand. If they are talented, they will have many prospective clients and charge more for services. That said, you shouldn’t have to mortgage your home to defend a DWI case and especially a traffic ticket. Depending on your criminal charge, determine if the price is right for you. The more serious the conviction results, the more you will gladly pay, but keep pricing in perspective to the charge when searching for a lawyer.
It isn’t difficult when choosing the best lawyer in 2021. The first thing to do in defending your case is to hire an attorney, but it must be the right attorney for you and your case. Follow these tips, and you will indeed find the correct choice for defending your criminal case.
In addition, and if you live in Louisiana, you may want to consider Barkemeyer Law Firm. With locations in various areas of Louisiana, our firm is dedicated to getting clients the best results.
We hope you have learned 9 tips for choosing the best lawyer in 2021 and wish you luck.
Many lawyers specialize in certain areas of law, such as family, estate, personal injury, contracts, or civil rights. It’s important to find a lawyer who has relevant experience with the legal area that you need. Take time to search for the right lawyer.
- Ask family, friends, or co-workers for recommendations.
- Check with your state and local bar associations.
- Consult lawyer referral services offered by a union or community group you belong to.
Once you have some options, plan to talk with more than one lawyer before you choose someone to represent you. You also might be eligible to get free or low cost legal help, depending on your income and other circumstances.
Interviewing a Lawyer
Before your first meeting with a lawyer, find out if you’ll have to pay for the lawyer’s time. Often a first consultation is free. Be ready to give a short summary of your legal situation and the solution you want. You’ll want to ask:
- About their experience with your kind of case
- How they would get the solution you want
- About the chances of getting the solution you want, and other possible outcomes
- Whether this lawyer, other lawyers, or paralegals in the law firm would do most of the work on the case
- About the fees for each member of the law firm who would work on your case
- How long it might take to resolve your legal issue or case
Hiring a Lawyer
After you find the right lawyer, keep asking questions until you’re sure you understand what you’ve both agreed to. Then, get the agreement in writing. Discuss possible approaches to your case, your expectations, and the work to be done, including:
- How, and how often, will the lawyer update you?
- What information or documents does the lawyer need from you to help with the case? Before you send original documents, make copies for yourself. Ask the lawyer to send you copies of any important documents from your case.
Payment Arrangements and Fees
When you choose a lawyer, you’ll talk about how to pay for their services. Most lawyers charge by the hour, or part of the hour, they spend working on a case. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for a service, like writing a will. Others charge a contingent fee and get a share of the money their client gets in a case. Your lawyer should tell you if ¾ in addition to paying a fee ¾ they’ll charge you for expenses related to your case: for example, copying documents, court filing fees, or depositions.
Be sure to get the fee agreement in writing. Each time you get a bill from your lawyer, review it to see how your money is being spent. Ask the lawyer to explain any charges you don’t understand.
Before your lawyer starts to work on your case, they may ask you to pay a financial deposit, called a retainer. The lawyer may use the retainer to pay expenses and fees.
If you pay a lawyer by the hour, your final cost depends on how long it takes to complete your case. A lawyer’s hourly rate depends on their skill and experience. An experienced lawyer may charge a higher hourly rate than a beginner, but they may take fewer hours to do the job. Before you agree to pay a lawyer an hourly rate, get a written estimate of the number of hours it will take to complete your case, so you have an idea of your total costs.
Flat or “fixed” fee
If you pay a flat or “fixed” fee, you pay the lawyer a set dollar amount for a service, like writing a will. Many lawyers charge a flat fee for uncomplicated services like drafting incorporation papers, handling an uncontested divorce, or filing a simple bankruptcy. Before you decide to pay for a service with a flat or fixed fee, find out exactly what services the fee does and doesn’t cover. It’s also good to ask the lawyer what will happen if your uncomplicated service needs more work than expected.
Contingency fee arrangement
If you hire a lawyer on a contingency, it means their fees will be a set percentage of the total money you get if you win your case, plus reimbursement for case-related expenses like depositions, expert witnesses, and filing fees. In a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer takes on the risk that your case might be unsuccessful. If you don’t get any money, your lawyer won’t get attorney’s fees. In some contingency fee arrangements, you might have to reimburse the lawyer for case-related expenses even if you don’t win your case. Be sure you know exactly what your agreement covers.
You may want to look for a contingency fee arrangement if you don’t have money to pay a lawyer’s retainer or hourly fees up front. If you’re thinking about a contingency fee arrangement, know that:
- Most states limit the kind of cases that are allowed to have contingency fee arrangements. For example, many states don’t allow contingency fee arrangements in criminal cases.
- You can negotiate the size of the contingency fee.
- The size of the contingency fee should be based on how much work the lawyer will do. You may be able to negotiate a fee agreement that gives the lawyer a lower percentage if the case settles quickly and a higher percentage if the case lasts longer and goes to trial.
- You may be able to negotiate a sliding scale fee. For example, you could negotiate a fee that pays the attorney 30 percent of the money you get up to $10,000, then 20 percent of any additional money you get up to $50,000. There is no “official” or “standard” amount for a lawyer’s contingency fee, but most states limit the attorney’s fee to a “reasonable” percentage of the total amount recovered.
Other Ways to Get Legal Help
Depending on your financial and other circumstances, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal services. For example, you may be eligible for free legal help in landlord-tenant or divorce cases. You can also get free information, forms, and guides online about legal rights in your state on issues like bankruptcy, debtors’ rights, and employment. You may find free or low-cost legal help connected to state bar associations, and at legal clinics run by accredited law schools.
If You Have Problems
Lawyers are subject to state ethics rules and are required to charge reasonable fees. If you think your lawyer didn’t treat you fairly, didn’t handle your case effectively, or overcharged you, talk with him or her and try to work out an agreement. Depending on the circumstances, you may be free to fire your lawyer, or you may need a judge’s permission. If you can’t resolve things with your lawyer, or you believe they have acted improperly, consider filing a complaint with your state or local bar association.
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The best place to find the programs that offer free legal help is the Mass Legal Resource Finder website. It will ask you to answer a few simple questions to find programs for you. Legal Resource Finder: Find Legal Aid
Lawyer for the Day programs
In some courts, there are programs where volunteer lawyers spend a day helping people with their cases. These are called Lawyer for the Day programs. Each Lawyer for the Day program gives different types of help.
Check with the court where your case is to find out:
- If there is a Lawyer for the Day program
- If the program handles your type of case
- The days and hours the volunteer lawyers are at the court
See Lawyer for the Day programs for more information on these helpful programs.
Legal help for a part of a case: “Limited Assistance Representation” from a lawyer
Typically, lawyers represent clients for a whole case. However, there is a way to get legal help just for part of a case. This is called “ Limited Assistance Representation ” or “LAR.” With LAR, you and a lawyer agree what parts of a case you will handle and what parts the lawyer will handle. In other words, you limit what the lawyer does. That’s why it is called “Limited Assistance Representation.”
You can use LAR for any part of a case, including helping you with legal documents, arguing for you in a court event, or negotiating a settlement.
LAR can save you money in legal fees. With LAR it also may be easier to get a volunteer or pro bono lawyer. Why? Because LAR allows a lawyer to help you without committing to represent you for the whole case.
Lawyer referral services
Lawyer Referral Services can help you find a lawyer. Bar associations – professional groups for lawyers – often have referral services. Some nonprofit organizations also have referral services. Each of the following groups has information about how to find a lawyer.
Please also see Lawyer Referral Services from Mass Legal Resource Finder.
For additional legal information and sources of assistance, see the Legal Resource Finder. Answer a few questions about your legal issue, income, and location, and get a tailor-made list of sources just for you.
Search for a lawyer by name, location, or specialty
To locate an attorney by name or city, go to Mass. Board of Bar Overseers, and enter your information in the Look Up an Attorney section.
Attorneys from other states
is the country’s most well-known legal directory. Here you can search their database of over one million lawyers.
- The Findlaw Lawyer Directory contains over 800,000 lawyers, listed through a clear user interface. “More options” under Locations lets you search by name.
Results of complaints about Massachusetts lawyers
The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers handles complaints about lawyers. The BBO has a section called “Rules and Decisions.” There you can see if there are any decisions against attorneys. You also look up lawyers in the Look Up an Attorney section to see if there has been any “Public Discipline” against them.
Finding the right lawyer to represent you may be the most important decision that you make when you are faced with a difficult legal matter. The lawyer that you hire should have the following:
- Active North Carolina law license (if the matter arises out of North Carolina law)
- Experience and knowledge in the practice area
- Good disciplinary record with the North Carolina State Bar—check a lawyer’s disciplinary record by searching our Disciplinary Order database or by calling the State Bar (919.828.4620)
- Good reputation in the community
- Personality or temperament that is compatible with your own
- Clear information about how you will be charged for the lawyer’s services, the services of paralegals and other employees of the lawyer, and for expenses such as copying costs and long distance phone calls
The North Carolina State Bar cannot recommend a lawyer. However, there are resources to help you find a lawyer. The best resource is a personal recommendation from a friend or family member that you trust. (Several recommendations for the same lawyer are even better.) In the absence of a personal recommendation, here are some resources for you to use in your search:
of lawyers certified as specialists in designated practice areas
- If you are a present or former member of the military, you may find helpful information on the LAMP (Legal Assistance for Military Personnel) website.
- Lawyer Directory
- Before You Hire a Lawyer
- Legal Specialists
North Carolina State Bar
217 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
It’s always useful to have a lawyer—and sometimes you really need one. However, finding and paying a lawyer can seem overwhelming or impossible. Learn how to find a lawyer that is right for you, including through legal aid and lawyer referral services.
Understanding the Basics
Signs that it’s important to have a lawyer
It can seem hard to find a lawyer that fits your problem and budget. However, there are times when it is especially important to hire a lawyer. You should do what you can to get a lawyer if:
- The case is complicated. Some legal issues, like child custody cases, can be very difficult to handle on your own.
- You have a huge amount to win or lose. For instance, you could lose access to your children, your house or a lot of money.
- You are unlikely to be able to agree with the other side. If you can find middle ground by negotiating with the other side, that can be a good solution without a lawyer. On the other hand, if the other side already has a lawyer, that could mean that you should get one too.
- You are getting divorced and you have experienced domestic violenceor the divorce could affect your immigration status. In these cases, you may be able to get help for free through legal aid.
In criminal cases, you have a “right to counsel.” That means you have a right to have a lawyer, even if you can’t afford to pay one. In this case, you can ask for a public defender or court appointed counsel.
In civil cases, like divorce or foreclosure, you do not have this same “right to counsel.” In this case, low-income people can find help from legal aid. There are also bar association lawyer referral services that can connect anyone with a lawyer to hire.
Where to find a lawyer
There are many ways to find a lawyer to help you with your civil legal problems in Ohio. On this site we can help you find:
Legal aids are non-profit law firms that provide free legal help to low-income people. When you contact legal aid they will ask you some questions about yourself and your problem. Then they will let you know if they are able to help or if can they connect you with a pro bono attorney. Unfortunately, legal aid has limited resources and cannot always help everyone.
To find your local legal aid, use our Find Your Legal Aid tool or go to Legal Help and Lawyers.
To find bar association lawyer referral services in your area, go to Legal Help and Lawyers.
To find out if your court has a self-help center, go to Government and Community Resources.