Do You Need a Lawyer? How to Find an Attorney You Can Count On

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Finding a good lawyer is an important part of dealing with any sort of legal problem. Whether you need a trust drawn up or a will created, the right attorney will help you get the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Unfortunately, many people aren't quite sure how to find a trustworthy lawyer. If you've never had to meet with someone for legal advice or counseling, chances are that you are unsure of where to start searching. No matter what type of lawyer you need, there are several ways you can be sure to get the best help possible for your personal situation.

Never underestimate the value of personal referrals. If you have friends who have recently used an attorney, don't be embarrassed to ask for their lawyer's name. You never have to reveal personal information about your situation, especially if you're thinking about hiring a lawyer to help you with a sensitive issue like bankruptcy or divorce. Word-of-mouth can be a very powerful tool for finding someone trustworthy, though, so ask your close friends or relatives who they go to when they need legal counsel 

You can also check with your employer if you need an attorney for a standard legal document. Some employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) or may even have a lawyer on staff who can draw up a will, power of attorney, or contract for you. Even if your employer does not offer an EAP, your superiors may be able to point you in the direction of a decent lawyer 

If you'd prefer to handle things discreetly, you can search for lawyers online using a legal referral service. These services are free to use and will offer you several local lawyers who specialize in the area of law you need assistance with. For the best results, use several referral services to see which lawyers show up on all of the searches. Each referral service has their own guidelines for screening lawyers, so always read the fine print on the website to find out what the lawyer's qualifications actually are.

Once you find an attorney who seems to be a good fit, you'll want to contact their office to find out if you can work together. Never simply hire an attorney. Instead, you should ask for a free consultation to find out if the attorney is interested in your case, has experience dealing with situations like yours, or has the time to take you on as a client. Most attorneys will offer you a 30-minute consultation either in person or over the phone to find out if you'll be a good match.

When an attorney decides to take on your case or to help you with your personal situation, feel free to ask about their personal fees. Ask as many questions up front as possible. This way, if you receive a hefty bill in the mail, you won't be surprised. Some lawyers bill by the hour, while others bill per case or per project. If you have someone draft a will, for example, you will probably be billed for the project, rather than by the hour. Talk openly and honestly with your attorney about how the billing process works and what you can anticipate paying for help with your case.

Finally, always make sure that your lawyer is someone who is willing to communicate openly with you. If your attorney won't return your emails or phone calls, you need to find someone else. The right attorney will always get back with you in a timely fashion and will be ready to help answer any and all of your questions related to the case. Remember that you're paying your lawyer to help you, so you should expect them to be there when you need them.