Do you need a lawyer? If you have a legal question and need answers, there are plenty of lawyers out there who are happy to help you. In many cases, it is possible to begin the process entirely free of cost — either through a special event or promotion or by taking advantage of a free, one-on-one consultation.
Residents of Evansville, Indiana discovered just how simple it can be to get free or low-cost legal counsel just over a week ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On MLK Day, eight lawyers volunteered their time through the Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP) of Southwestern Indiana. The lawyers established a phone bank to answer questions from the general public for three hours — from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — entirely free of charge. Attorneys fielded questions from low-income callers as well as those calling to ask exactly where they should turn. The appropriate legal specialty or legal specialties for a specific legal issue can be unclear. Lawyers in the local community pointed callers in the right direction. I have been taking Klonopin from for more than 10 years, I have cerebral palsy. With my diagnosis, it is very difficult to pick up the dose, so it is always different. I took the tablet once in the morning after eating, but the effect was only after 15-20 minutes, which did not make me very happy. Then I began to take it before meals and the effect is within 5 minutes. I also mix it with other meds. No side effects.
In Indiana, this is just one such event aiming to make legal help more accessible and affordable to the average person. “The VLP partners with the Evansville Bar Association to host twice-monthly consultation hours throughout the year, in addition to the special hours on MLK Day,” The Courier and Press writes.
To learn more about law and different legal specialties before reaching out for legal counsel, start with the guidelines below.
When it comes to legal specialties, family law is one of the most far-reaching. Family law runs the gamut. It may involve working with families going through a divorce, helping spouses fairly and equitably split up financial assets and physical assets, and tackling all matters related to child custody, like child custody arrangements, child support, spousal support, and more. Often, family law attorneys will help clients draft and sign off on prenuptial agreements, walk future parents through the adoption process, help determine matters of legal guardianship, and represent clients who are the victim or victims of any sort of family-related neglect or domestic violence.
Know that a compassionate family lawyer has the experience and tools to help you navigate emotionally difficult times. If you are struggling to provide a sense of normalcy to your children during your divorce, talk to your lawyer about it. They will be able to provide you with general recommendations (e.g., establish a new routine and stick to it or do something fun as a new family unit, like book an escape room this coming weekend) or more specific, case-by-case advice. For example, if you or your children are struggling with your mental health following the aftermath of your divorce, they can refer you to quality mental health counselors, family therapists, or child therapists in the local area.
Also know that, because family law is such a diverse field, it is common for attorneys to specialize within the field or break down family law into its own separate legal specialties. For best results, you may want to work directly with a divorce attorney, child custody lawyer, or adoption lawyer. When reaching out for legal help, ask who is most qualified to tackle your particular case.
Whether you are going through a divorce or following up on child support payments after your divorce, it is important to seek out legal counsel. An attorney can help you:
- Navigate nuanced and location-specific family legalese. It is safe to say that the average person does not wholly understand the nuances of law. In fact, lawyers themselves may not understand the particulars of a specific area of law. For example, it is not at all uncommon for a criminal law attorney to hire a divorce attorney and vice versa. Legal specialties vary signficantly, and a lawyer specializing in that field is always most qualified to handle your case.
Further, laws can — and often do — vary by local jurisdiction or state. Your lawyer will be able to help you pin down the specifics of their field as well as any laws unique to your state or location.
- Reach the fairest possible agreement. Whenever possible, it is ideal to work with an attorney for a few key reasons. First, there is a stigma against representing yourself in court. That stigma exists because the law is complex, and many judges may assume that you will not have adequate legal knowledge to submit the necessary paperwork, observe important deadlines, and meet other legally mandated requirements. Should you miss any of these deadlines or legal requirements, it does not look good for you in court.
Further, family law often deals with emotionally difficult life events — events like divorce, determining child custody, and/or determining guardianship. Even the best of us do not always keep a level head when we are under undue stress or presure. By working with an attorney, you ensure that you arrive at the fairest possible arrangement — and your emotions will not get in the way of coming to a satisfactory resolution.
- Dot your Is and cross your Ts. If you have an ongoing retirement plan through your employer, do you have to share what you have saved so far with your spouse in the event of a divorce? Is that considered a shared asset? A lawyer can answer these questions and more. They can walk you through the entire process step-by-step and ascertain that you do not overlook the division of any legal assets without meaning to.
Probate and Estate Law
Probate and estate law are legal specialties that tie up legal loose ends before and after we pass away. According to Legal Career Path, “Estate law involves planning for a person’s finances and property both during their lifetime and after.” Similarly, probate continues and finalizes that process. In a few words, probate is “the court-supervised process of authenticating a last will and testament if the deceased made one,” The Balance writes.
These legal specialties can be especially tricky, and it is always wise to work with an attorney to ensure that your last wishes — or your loved one’s last wishes — are honored in good faith. Probate and estate law attorneys can help with anything from drafting wills to stipulating alternative funeral plans in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
For example, many families are postponing funerals to months after their loved one’s passing owing to COVID-19. Others are having group funeral services anyway — perhaps against their better judgment. Thankfully, there is a safer middle ground. Funeral homes report that a growing number of well-meaning family and friends are opting for memorial webcasting. This option allows for a few immediate family members to attend services in-person and for faraway friends and family to take part in the services virtually.
Whatever the case may be, it is best to work with a lawyer because unclear or imprecise language can disrupt or throw off the probate process and we may not know every last thing we must stipulate in our wills to avoid legal pitfalls following our deaths.
Plus, there are options available for elderly persons who may struggle to pay for these services. Northeast Legal Aid in Massachusetts is just one example. The organization provides complete legal services to aging Americans and low-income Americans entirely free of cost. The Westford, MA team is doing whatever it can to make these services even more accessible. Recently, they announced the grand opening of their Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) on January 20.
Business and Corporate Law
The business and corporate law legal specialties go hand-in-hand. Business law describes any laws dealing with starting new businesses and any laws related to doing business with the public, other businesses, large corporations, or the local, state, or federal government.
Corporate law is similar, although it deals with corporations and the laws that pertain specifically to their day-to-day operations. “A corporation creates a legal or ‘artificial person’ or entity that has standing to sue and be sued, enter into contracts, and perform other duties necessary to maintain a business, separate from its stockholders,” HG.org explains.
What does that mean? A local mom-and-pop restaurant or local boat dealer will work with a business attorney to manage their legal affairs. Corporations like Google, Amazon, and grocery store chains, on the other hand, would be subject to corporate law.
While you may be confident that you will never need the expertise of certain legal specialties, it is best to be at least somewhat familiar with all areas of law. No one anticipates being pulled over after one too many drinks nor do they anticipate the criminal charges that may come along with filing personal or business taxes incorrectly. A criminal defense attorney can help in any eventuality, whether you need assistance with a DUI, federal crimes, or corporate criminal law.
As with family law, this particular legal specialty is best described as a multitude of legal specialties. If at all possible, it is best to work with a lawyer in your specific field. A DUI attorney, for example, may have contacts with the local courts, sheriff’s office, or bail bondsmen. Using these contacts, they can help expedite your release and possibly even negotiate with the judge or officer to set a significantly lower bail.
Likewise, a corporate crime lawyer will have expertise in allegations commonly lobbied against large companies — allegations like fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement, and extortion.
One of the most important legal specialties is environmental law. Just about all business owners and especially large companies will want to keep close tabs on environmental law. These laws often stipulate the exact ways companies can do business. For example, even relatively small or medium-sized self-contained companies may have to operate under certain legal restrictions. For example, in some states, it is illegal to throw printer ink toner cartridges out in the trash. In others, it may be heavily discouraged and frowned upon, but it is not necessarily illegal. Those are just some of the considerations to take into account on a micro level.
On a macro level, the laws get even tougher and murkier. For example, a wholesale gasoline provider must pay close attention to the emissions associated with their day-to-day business practices. “Air toxins are released from these facilities during gasoline tank truck and rail car loading, gasoline storage, and from vapor leaks from pumps, valves, and other equipment in gasoline service,” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains. It is the company’s duty to ascertain that their levels of emissions do not break the law.
Likewise, the majority of large corporations ship goods overseas and use airlines or shipping lines to do it. Once again, it is the responsibility of the corporation to tackle international shipping and do it in a way that is — and remains — strictly legal.
If any of this applies to you, it is often best to work closely with an environmental law attorney to make sure you are operating within legal bounds.
Personal Injury Law
One of the final and, again, most important legal specialties is personal injury law. Although that is not something that we like to think about, getting in a car accident is often inevitable. “By car insurance industry estimates, you will file a claim for a collision about once every 17.9 years,” Forbes reveals. That means — at least once every 18 years — you may very well end up working with a personal injury law firm to assess your injuries and receive compensation if applicable.
Few people realize that car financing, registration, and inspections are not the only costs associated with owning a car. After getting in a major collision, drivers become much more familiar with the value of insurance and insurance claims as well.
Legal specialties matter. Working with an expert in the necessary field can greatly improve the outcome or outcomes of your particular case. Use the guidelines above to help narrow down the right lawyer for you.
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