What to Do if You Need a Lawyer
Jun 04, 2019 05:02 PM EDT
It's a Saturday night and you're watching your favorite TV show with your significant other. They're zeroing in on the bad guy and the police finally catch him and bring him into the station. As they walk him into the interrogation room, handcuffs behind his back, the nemesis looks at them and smiles: "I'm not saying another thing without my lawyer."
The next scene shows the evil villain walking out and smirking at police officers, followed by a well-dressed man carrying an expensive briefcase filled with...something?
So, does everyone have a lawyer? Do you just have a contact in your phone that says "lawyer dude"? Why would you need to have a lawyer?
Chances are, the average citizen doesn't have a lawyer on retainer, waiting behind their mahogany desk to be summoned. Even if you do find a lawyer, chances are you're not going to have the Hollywood moment in court. Chances are you won't even see the inside of a courtroom.
But when would you need a lawyer? The answer, unfortunately, is a bit complicated and there is not a straightforward answer.
Determine What Kind of Lawyer You Need
Similar to medicine, there are many different kinds of law. While a heart surgeon may know a lot about medicine in general, you're not going to ask a heart surgeon to take a look at your knee if you've had a soccer injury.
The same case applies to law. From litigation to environmental law to criminal defense, the law is a complicated land which is why lawyers go to school for such a long time and specialize in one area. Focus on what exactly your issue is and how it can be dealt with.
Try and Determine if you Have a Case
This one is much trickier to determine, but you can do some initial research on whether or not you'll actually have a case.
Let's say, for example, you were hurt on the job. You might have a case for "personal injury". The easiest way to define personal injury is unintentional injuries. The most common of these types of injuries are traffic accidents, workplace accidents or medical accidents. Essentially, it's when something out of your control did harm to you.
This is because the person that caused injury, or the place where you experienced injury, has something called definable duty. It was their duty to ensure this doesn't happen. If a driver is texting and driving and hits you on your bike, the driver was not upholding their definable duty.
But if the driver was in the middle of a storm and hydroplaned out of control, determining definable duty is a bit more difficult. That leads us to our next step.
While some of us may have had a friend or a cousin go to law school, you may not know any lawyers walking around, willing to help out at the drop of a hat.
What you could have, though, are friends or family members who know someone. Remember, it's not always what you know, but who you know. A recommendation could lead to the perfect match for you and your case.
If there's no one you know, you can always reach out to your state's bar association and see who they would recommend. Each case is different and what has worked for someone else may not work for you.
Once you have a list, try and do some reviewing of your own. Some things you could look at are:
- Online reviews from past clients
- See if the lawyer has worked on similar cases
- See what kind of experience the lawyer has
You're going to want a lawyer who understands your situation and who will fight for you.
Meet With a Lawyer
Many lawyers will offer free consultations to see if you have a case or see if they can help you. Don't be afraid to take advantage of this situation. They may not be able to help you but could have a colleague or know someone else that would be a better fit for your case. Feel free to ask a million questions as well to obtain all the information you need.
Things move quite slow in the legal world. Things move even slower if you're planning on going to trial. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Try and stay positive and bring yourself to think of happier thoughts.
Do everything you can do to make sure you're prepared for the long haul and lean on others for support.