What Type of Lawyer Do I Need?
A lawyer is an individual licensed to practice law in a specific state or area. The main obligation of a lawyer is to uphold the law while also defending the interests and rights of his or her client. The main duties of a lawyer include providing legal advice, gathering evidence and researching cases, drafting legal documents and providing counsel in court.
The term lawyer is often interchangeable with other terms, including attorney, counsel, barrister and solicitor. There are a variety of legal practice areas that a lawyer can focus on, and which type of attorney is most suited to help with a particular matter depends on their area of knowledge.
Different Types of Lawyers
Are you unsure of which type of lawyer you need for your legal situation? Below is a list of the most common types of lawyers:
- Personal injury lawyer: You need to contact a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured as a result of the actions or negligence of another individual, company or government entity. Examples of common cases include injuries from traffic accidents, slip and fall incidents, defective products and workplace injuries. Personal injury lawyers focus on helping you obtain compensation for your injury.
- Estate planning lawyer: If you need a legal professional to draft a will, trust or another document to help protect your assets, looking into hiring an estate planning lawyer. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help ensure your goals and wishes regarding the distribution of your property are followed when you pass away. Creating an effective estate plan now can help prevent a lengthy probate process in the future after you have passed, saving your family money, time and frustration.
- Bankruptcy lawyer: If you are having financial issues due to a job loss or serious illness, you may be unable to pay your monthly bills. If you are considering bankruptcy proceedings to resolve your financial difficulties, you need to contact a bankruptcy attorney. This type of lawyer can help you understand the costs associated with bankruptcy, the type of debt that is discharged in bankruptcy and any potential alternatives you may want to explore.
- Immigration lawyer: Immigration lawyers can help you navigate the complex immigration system. They can provide advice and legal counsel on immigration issues including visas, refugee cases and deportation notices.
- Criminal lawyer: If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime, you need the services of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney with experience in criminal law can help you understand your rights relating to arraignment, arrest, bail, pleas and the trial process. If you have been accused of a crime and cannot afford an attorney, you will be appointed one by your local court system.
- Medical malpractice lawyer: If you have suffered an injury due to an incorrect medical diagnosis, botched surgery or prescription error, you can hire a medical malpractice attorney. This type of lawyer can also help defend you if you are a medical professional who has been accused of malpractice by a patient.
The Process of Finding and Hiring a Lawyer
Finding a reliable lawyer can be a daunting task. One of the best ways to ensure you hire a competent professional is to get a referral from a friend, family member or colleague. Be aware, however, that each case is unique and an attorney who worked well for your friend may not have the experience to effectively represent you in your own case.
Step 1: Look for Advertisements
If you want to get an idea of the lawyers available in your area, seek out attorney advertisements. These can be found in communication channels including newspapers, television, internet ads, radio and telephone directories. Most ads provide you with the lawyer’s name, contact information and area of focus. Some ads even offer a chart of the fees the lawyer charges. Reading online reviews is an excellent way of vetting lawyers without having to schedule a consultation. Several websites provide consumer lawyer reviews for free.
Step 2: Consider Pro Bono Options
If you do not have the money to hire an attorney, you may look into pro bono options. Many states offer legal assistance programs that provide free or inexpensive legal services to residents in need. You can locate services in your local area by conducting an internet search or contacting your local government official. Many legal aid assistance programs have specific guidelines for eligibility, such as family size, income and place of residence. Some offices employ their own lawyers while others may put you in contact with a volunteer attorney.
Step 3: Schedule a Consultation
Many lawyers offer free consultations. Bring any relevant documents to the consultation and be prepared to provide specific details about your legal matter. During the meeting, the attorney will ask you about your legal issue and will let you know the various ways you can proceed. The attorney will also tell you whether he or she is willing to represent you in your case. As the client, you have the final say in whether you want to hire the attorney.
Step 4: Sign the Agreement and Pay a Retainer Fee
If you plan to use the services of a lawyer over a period of time, you may want to sign a retainer. A retainer is a formal agreement outlining the relationship between you and your attorney. Some lawyers may also require you to pay a retainer fee to secure their services when you sign the retainer agreement.
Work With an Experienced Attorney
If you are facing a legal problem, whether it’s a criminal charge, an immigration issue or a question about bankruptcy, you need to hire an experienced lawyer in your area as soon as possible. An attorney is trained to help you interpret the laws and will help you understand your legal rights. Take the guesswork out of your legal situation by contacting a lawyer today. Submit a request online or call us at (888) 221-7775 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!