When you find yourself in a situation that requires a lawyer, such as sitting across from a law enforcement officer in an interrogation room or filing divorce papers, you may be so flustered that you don’t have time to consider what you need to do before you hire an attorney. Hiring a lawyer is like hiring a professional for any type of task or job–you must do your research before you offer them the position of helping you navigate legal problems or circumstances since their help is expensive and specialized. If you hire the first lawyer you contact, you may find out that they aren’t right for the job when it’s too late to change legal representatives.
If you need legal representation, there are some practical things you should do before you hire any attorney, such as saving up money for a retainer, figuring out how you plan to finance legal representation unless you’re using a public defender, and reading the reviews of attorneys you intend to contact. For specific situations, you’ll need to know what type of lawyer you need and also want to think about what you should do before hiring a lawyer who practices in that area of law. Before hiring an attorney, the first thing you should do is find out what area of law your attorney should have as a specialty by following the suggestions on the list below.
When Facing Criminal Charges
When most of us think of lawyers, we conjure an image in our minds of a defense attorney who defends a client against criminal charges in a trial or works with the District Attorney and other parties to create a favorable outcome with a plea deal for his or her client. While defense attorneys may not be the only type of attorney out there, they tend to be one of the easier ones for people to understand when they need one and when they don’t. If you’re on the fence about whether you need a lawyer, you should decide if it’s right for you to have one before you hire an attorney.
In most cases where you have criminal charges filed against you, or you think you may have criminal charges filed against you shortly, it’s wise to at least consult with a local defense lawyer about your situation. Even if you don’t need to hire a lawyer right away, most attorneys will understand that you want to get to know different legal professionals before you hire one, and they’ll be happy to provide you with their contact information for when you’re ready to get legal representation. Those who don’t practice criminal defense law may think that they can represent themselves in a criminal case, but even attorneys would usually prefer to have an unbiased professional interpreting the law if they were in your shoes.
When Filing for Bankruptcy
If your debt has become unmanageable and you’re considering bankruptcy, you’ll want to get a bankruptcy lawyer who can help you decide what bankruptcy option, if any, may be a good choice for you. The process of filing for bankruptcy can be scary since it can ruin your credit and make the future feel like one big question mark. Some types of debt,, such as student loans, may not be eligible for discharge during bankruptcy, so you should ask potential attorneys about their experience with helping folks who have specific kinds of debt before you decide to file for bankruptcy.
While you don’t need to know about all of the different kinds before you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, it can be helpful to have an idea of what outcomes seem most favorable to you before you commit to paying a retainer for an attorney. Even if you don’t have any idea what bankruptcy would mean for your financial situation, a skilled attorney should be able to walk you through what it looks like before, during, and after filing for bankruptcy. Still, since an attorney’s time costs a decent amount of money, the more you can educate yourself on the subject before you seek out legal advice, the easier it will be to spend your time with your attorney focusing on how you can apply those basic concepts to the situation at hand.
When Injured in an Accident
Injuries from incidents like car accidents can leave you with high medical bills and the need to hire a personal injury attorney to help you pursue legal action that may help you cover the costs of those expenses. If you were injured at work, it may be more appropriate to seek out a worker’s compensation attorney, so you should think about how your unique situation fits into specific areas of law before you start reaching out to attorneys. Even so, a skilled attorney will know when your case is not a right fit for their expertise, and they should also know if there are attorneys in their network who would be able to help you based on their experience.
If you’re the party who got into a car accident and was injured in a legal case, you’ll want to contact local car accident attorneys as soon as you suspect you may need one. If you can’t contact them when you’re in the hospital recovering from injuries, you could have a friend or family member interview them so you’ll have an idea of what you can expect when you’re ready to hire one. Some attorneys may only want to discuss the case with the client, so you should know whether they would be willing to consult with your family members and friends on your behalf before you hire an attorney.
When Facing a Foreclosure
When your housing feels unstable, and you fear that you may be at risk for foreclosure, time is of the essence, and you shouldn’t delay contacting a foreclosure defense attorney. Your home is the one place where you can feel safe, secure, and stable, so you should do everything you can to avoid foreclosing on your house. Once your home has been foreclosed, it can be much more difficult to purchase another home or rent a home in the future, so you should invest in an attorney who can produce the most favorable outcome.
If you’re worried about foreclosure, you should know what your goals are for your case before you hire an attorney. Depending on how far along you are in the foreclosure process, an attorney may be able to help more or less to avoid the worst-case scenario. Even if an attorney can’t help you avoid foreclosure, they may be able to help you mitigate the level of damage that comes with this event.
When Buying Properties
You don’t just need to get a lawyer to help you in bad situations–you can also hire an attorney to help you with the exciting parts of life. Buying rental properties or places where you and your family can live is a fun thing to do, and it’s even more enjoyable when you have real estate attorneys on your side who can do the difficult work of interpreting real estate law for you. Purchasing properties means looking at potential places and meeting with folks who are selling properties. It also means considering what you’d like your future home or rental property to look like. Still, there are some less fun aspects of buying properties, like filing paperwork and writing up contracts, so you should get at least a little familiar with those parts of the process before you hire an attorney to help you with those tasks.
When Facing a DWI Charge
From wild nights partying in college to driving home from a friend’s house after a glass of wine hasn’t left your system yet, there are plenty of reasons why you might face a DWI charge. If you’re facing charges related to driving under the influence, you should know your rights before you hire an attorney to help you navigate this problem. If you can’t afford to hire a DWI lawyer, you may qualify for a public defender or pro bono legal representation through a local non-profit, so you shouldn’t let finances get in the way of you getting the legal assistance you need.
When you can’t afford a lawyer to help you defend yourself against charges like DWI charges, you may think that it’s a good idea to represent yourself in the case. Unfortunately, even those who have training in this area of law may struggle to represent themselves well in court and produce favorable outcomes. For those who don’t have any legal training or qualifications, it can be even more difficult to represent themselves well, and they may end up with a sentence that could have been reduced or avoided if they only had the right representation.
When Dealing with Divorce Issues
Even if you and your spouse intend on having an amicable divorce, you still could benefit from having a divorce attorney on your side to advocate for your best interests. For those who are going through a divorce that isn’t as amicable, it’s even more important to have an attorney who knows how to ensure that you are getting what you want out of the divorce, from custody arrangements to alimony and more. Divorces can be highly emotional and create an environment that’s full of conflict, so having an attorney can also help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse stay neutral and focused when you’re having conversations about how you would like to proceed.
If you have specific goals in mind for what you’d like to achieve with the divorce, you should get clear about them before you hire an attorney to help you achieve them. Although no attorney can control the outcome of a divorce proceeding, a good attorney will help you figure out what expectations are realistic and what might be too much, given the circumstances. Even if you think you probably won’t need a divorce attorney, it’s always a good idea to have one or two in your contacts list in case your divorce starts to go in a direction that wasn’t what you planned in the first place.
When Bitten by Someone Else’s Dog
When someone else’s dog bites you, it can be a scary experience that leaves you with medical bills and other costs that are tough to cover. If you have to take time off of work to treat a dog bite, this can also cut into your earnings and your ability to care for yourself after the incident. A dog bite injury may qualify you to seek representation from appropriate legal counsel to recover some of the costs associated with the injury by suing the owner of the dog or other means.
If you think you may be entitled to compensation after a dog bite, you should do some research on your options before you hire an attorney. Any dog bite lawyer worth their salt should know about the laws surrounding dog bites and the potential outcomes of lawsuits of this nature. Even if an attorney doesn’t know if you have a chance in a lawsuit, they should be able to point you in the direction of an attorney who could help if they aren’t qualified to practice in that area of law or confident in their abilities in this type of case.
In conclusion, there are many things you should do before you hire an attorney to prepare for paying for a lawyer and working with one, but the most important thing you can do in advance of retaining a lawyer is to figure out what kind of lawyer you need. If your case is a typical task that requires an attorney, such as going through a divorce or defending yourself against criminal charges, it may be easier to determine what type of lawyer you need than a more complex issue that doesn’t fall within an intuitive category in the law. While your lawyer doesn’t need to be your best friend, you should have some level of rapport with any lawyer you hire regardless of what area of law they practice, and this rapport should start when you’re in the process of consulting with them and potentially hiring them.
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