Too many Americans go without a lawyer when they need one. According to The Conversation, a staggering 80 to 90% of men and women actively taking part in a legal case do not have an attorney. That percentage remains the same even when their opponent benefits from legal representation.
What’s the big deal? In most cases, working with a trusted law firm can make a significant difference in the outcome of lawsuits. Proceeding without a lawyer can compromise your case, and sometimes unfairly and through very little fault of your own. Work closely with a reliable lawyer to level the playing field.
Here is a closer look at what finding a good attorney entails and when finding good attorney matters most.
When Do You Need A Lawyer?
In most tricky legal situations, finding a good attorney is not optional. A better question to ask may be when finding a lawyer isn’t necessary.
The answer to that question is when you are mulling over the merits of a lawsuit when you are hot-tempered, hot-headed, reactionary, or pursuing a lawsuit as a matter of principle. Reconsider cases for slander, libel, and emotional distress, particularly if there is little to substantiate them. For example, if you are continually butting heads with your neighbor, chances are it’s best settled out of court.
When do you need legal services? Consider finding a good attorney if any of the following describes you:
- There is a lot of money at stake.
- Your opponent has legal representation.
- You are overwhelmed by the legal process.
- You are going through a sticky divorce.
- You need assistance with commercial litigation law.
- You are drawing up a will, taking part in estate planning, or dividing up an estate.
- You are injured at work.
- You are at fault in a car accident.
These are just a few of the most common reasons you may need to team up with a lawyer. Find more information about finding a good attorney below.
What Are The Makings Of A Good Lawyer?
Whether you opt for traditional or franchise legal services, look out for the traits of a quality attorney. Here are a few qualities to prioritize during your search:
- Excellent communication skills. Ideally, a lawyer will be easy to reach should you need to speak to them. They will also be responsible for relaying dense legal language and the nuances of the law to you in a manner that is clear, concise, and professional.
- Compassion. It is optimal to work with an attorney whom you truly believe is advocating for you and your well-being. It can be difficult to establish a rapport with a lawyer who is too cold or standoffish.
- Superior writing skills and creativity. Contrary to what you may see on TV, the majority of lawyers’ time is spent writing. It is important for a good attorney to be able to express themselves well in court and on paper. Another trait many are quick to overlook is creativity. A creative lawyer will have more resources and recourse to tackle your legal case.
Familiarity With The Legal Process
Just how important is it to know the specifics of the legal process? According to The Conversation, “Regardless of the type of case, missing just one step could mean you have to start the process all over again or even cause the case to be dismissed, sometimes without the option to refile.” If you are not perfectly confident that you will not miss a step along the way, finding a good attorney is your best course of action.
There are approximately 200 separate tasks to complete during the average legal case, The Conversation continues. These tasks include — but are not limited to — finding a court, filing legal motions, gathering documentation, documenting evidence, and making a case in court or coming to a settlement out of court. The legal process is time-consuming and can easily require time off work and/or paying for childcare.
Finally, even if you think you know all there is to know about a particular area of law, the reality may surprise you. For example, using the legal system to establish a guardian for a child is not only an involved process, but it also varies wildly from case-to-case. Without years of experience and expertise in a certain area of law, it can be near-impossible to be adequately prepared for all possible variations that may come up in court. A family law attorney, on the other hand, will have that experience and breadth of knowledge.
Interpreting Dense Legalese
That brings us to the next reason you need to commit to finding a good attorney: dense legalese. To put it plainly, laws are rarely simple. Hiring a lawyer to interpret laws for you is wise, especially given that many cases may be determined by what’s written in the books — or what can be read between the lines of that writing.
Similarly, you may need a lawyer to interpret the law directly related to your case — as well as comb through and interpret the particulars of a given area of law for you. Take bankruptcy or intellectual property, for example. If you are an individual or company filing for bankruptcy, doing so will require a deep understanding of the entire area of bankruptcy law, not just a few lines. What are your rights before filing? What are your rights after? What actions or mistakes can jeopardize the integrity of your claim? A bankruptcy law attorney with strong research skills can give you the answers to these questions.
Similarly, if you are exploring intellectual property law or patent law to establish your ownership of an idea or product, you need to know — or work closely with a lawyer who knows — pages and pages worth of patent law.
Having A Professional On Your Side When Jail Time Is On The Table
Now that we have explored the larger benefits of finding a good attorney, let’s get into some of the specifics — namely, why finding a good attorney if you face possible jail time is definitely worth your time.
In fact, if you are charged with any sort of crime, it is often wise to invest in the services of a criminal law attorney. If you are charged with driving under the influence, tax fraud, domestic violence, vehicular homicide, or any crime severe enough to warrant your arrest, it behooves you not to go it alone.
Teaming up with a criminal defense lawyer affords you several advantages. First, a lawyer can change or mitigate your sentence. If you face jail time, your attorney may be able to negotiate alternatives, like community service, probation, or rehabilitation. If the judge won’t budge and insists that you spend some time in the criminal justice system, a skillful attorney may very well be able to negotiate your sentence and reduce the amount of time you spend in jail.
A criminal defense attorney will know how to deftly and effectively work with investigators, professionals, and witnesses. They will know how to field questions from the prosecution and confront unfavorable testimony. At the end of the process, lawyers are much, much more likely to successfully strike a plea bargain with a judge than an individual who chooses to represent themselves.
Navigating A Personal Injury
Personal injury is also a challenging field to navigate on your own. Finding a good attorney ensures the fairest possible outcome if you are injured in an auto accident, at work, or in a public place. Here are the advantages of working with a trusted legal professional when you are injured:
- Lawyers can talk to insurance carriers on your behalf. If you are injured in a car crash, for example, you need to talk to insurance carriers to pay for your medical bills and to repair your car. Your lawyer will help you gather relevant information for your health insurance carrier and ensure that your auto insurance carrier is doing all they can to expedite the process of getting your car back on the road.
- Professionals pinpoint all compensable damages. Without a lawyer’s critical eye, you may actually cheat yourself out of money that is rightfully owed to you. For instance, you may only chase after compensation for immediate and debilitating physical injuries. An attorney will determine if there are any other damages you should seek compensation for. With adequate documentation and due legal process, you may be able to prove an accident resulted in a long-term injury. You may be able to get compensation for the immediate and extended periods of time you took off work — as long as they are related to the incident and your injuries.
- A law firm will educate you and help you meet important deadlines. Some cases in this area of law are subject to the statute of limitations. In other words, if you do not file appropriate paperwork or present the necessary documentation before a certain time, it is very possible that your case could be thrown out altogether. A lawyer is well-versed in these deadlines and will do everything they can to ensure you meet them.
Getting Through A Sticky Divorce
Another time that it is absolutely essential to seek legal counsel is during a divorce. Even the most amicable divorces can get messy. Divorce may entail dividing up finances, assets, land, estates, and even adjusting existing life insurance policies. Of course, that is assuming children are not in the picture. A divorce with children is infinitely more complicated as child custody agreements and child support payments come into play.
A divorce attorney can walk you through the entire process. Many divorce attorneys or divorce-specific legal practices offer mediation services, making it possible to walk you through the process as civilly as possible. A mediator does not dictate what you or your spouse will do. Rather, a mediator educates you and your spouse about the possibilities, proposes possible solutions, and makes certain that final negotiations are fair to all parties.
Divorce can easily be an emotionally-charged and fraught experience. A trusted lawyer can help you take a step back and do what is best for your future and your children (if applicable). For example, it may be best to be mindful of what you put in writing to your spouse — whether that is through text, email, or Facebook Messenger. A lawyer will clearly lay these things out for you, keeping you level-headed and in good graces with the court during an emotionally difficult time.
Workplace Injuries And Workers Compensation: Coming To A Fair Conclusion
Lastly, finding a good attorney will be in your best interest if you are making your way through a difficult workers compensation case. Workers compensation cases are a tricky business. Asking for compensation from your employer can be a daunting prospect, especially if you plan to return to work after recovery.
Workers compensation law firms can help you navigate these muddy waters. While straightforward cases are anticipated by HR, there are several reasons why your case may not be considered cut-and-dry. An insurance company may deny your claim or only approve a portion of your claim. “Any time you’re in a dispute with the insurance company, you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent you,” Nolo advises. If you have a preexisting condition, like chronic neck pain or back pain from an auto accident, you need legal representation if your workplace injury involves anything that aggravates that existing injury further. Finally, if you are unable to return to work — either work in the same industry or at all — team up with a lawyer to get compensation for your injuries as well as any compensation for training to switch fields or compensation for seeking permanent disability.
In tenant-landlord legal disputes, 50% of tenants are evicted when they choose to represent themselves in court. Those who opt for finding a good attorney, on the other hand, win 90% of their cases. Increase your chances of success. Increase your chances of fair compensation, fair sentencing, or a fair division of assets. Do not take chances. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.