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There are times when it’s best not to go it alone. Whether you’re in the midst of a messy divorce or need help filing an injury claim after a car accident, you will likely find yourself needing legal advice at some point in your life. While many people use their workplace HR department to help them sort through wage disputes and employment law issues, there are other ways to access quality legal services for free (or at least low cost). Here’s how:
There are online consultation services that connect individuals with a qualified, local attorney in a wide range of practice areas. In order to find one that meets your specific needs, conduct research online and compare costs. Some services only work with experienced lawyers who have obtained a minimum number of positive client reviews, while others accept any practicing attorney who is licensed in a particular state. According to the folks at Counsel Hound, this is a very reliable way to find the right attorney for your specific legal issue. Using online mediums to find a lawyer you can trust is also incredibly convenient.
Legal Clinics Or Public Defender’s Office
Check your local public defender’s office for free, or low-cost legal advice. Most large counties have a public defender department that only handles criminal law cases, but family law and injury claims may fall under the jurisdiction of a county bar association, state attorney general’s office, or other third-party resources in your area. Some jurisdictions will direct you to free resources such as community service boards before advising you to contact an attorney, so be sure to ask questions when you meet with anyone from the legal industry. In addition to finding an experienced professional who can give you sound advice about your case, many people find that meeting with lawyers face-to-face helps them get a better understanding of their legal situation.
State Bar Association
Most states have an official bar association that can connect you with a lawyer in your area. Membership is typically limited to attorneys who have met certain education and licensing requirements, and members are often required to maintain high standards of professional conduct and ethics. You can use your state’s bar directory to find lawyers near you, though it may be difficult to narrow the list based on geographic location alone. To ensure you’re getting the most relevant results, search by practice area or other key identifiers such as firm size or years of experience instead (for larger searches, try using keywords such as “family law” or “personal injury”). If you plan on hiring a lawyer for a lengthy case, you may also want to use the directory to find lawyers with good ratings from past clients.
Once you have a shortlist of lawyers in your area, contact references provided by each candidate. If they don’t return calls or emails when promised, move on to another potential hire. When speaking with previous clients, ask whether the lawyer handled their case well, if they were able to reach him when they needed and if he explained legal issues in plain language that was easy to understand. You will likely talk with only one person per firm, but you can then compare results in order to make an informed decision about which route is best for your specific legal needs.
Referrals From Friends & Family
You probably have several friends and family members who have been in a position similar to yours. They may be able to recommend lawyers they worked with in the past, or connections they have that can help you find a lawyer with experience in your specific practice area. Finding a good lawyer is a lot like finding a good doctor: it takes time, research, and patience. Once you’ve narrowed down your search results, do further research online about the candidate’s credentials and specialties to ensure he or she has the proper knowledge for your case.
In addition, ask each attorney you speak with how much representation will cost (and if their fees are set by law). If any of them promise that you won’t pay more than X number of dollars, get it in writing. Also, be sure to ask about any other fees that you may incur throughout the process (for example, how much photocopying will cost if you’re paying for every page of transcripts). If you can’t afford full representation or feel like your case is too complex for an affordable lawyer, don’t hesitate to do more research until you’ve found someone who can help.
When it comes time to finalize details about your case, be as open and honest as possible. If you don’t understand the process or what a lawyer is telling you, ask questions until you feel comfortable with the information. At that point, it’s probably best not to second-guess yourself too much – if all this legal stuff seems confusing or overwhelming, just imagine how a judge or jury will feel when trying to sort out your case! A good attorney will help you best determine how to proceed with your case while balancing fairness for everyone involved.
Information sourced by the author for luxuryactivist.com. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only. Featured Photo by Shipman Northcutt on Unsplash