Chances are, when you need a lawyer, you need one in a hurry. Maybe there’s been an accident, or a medical issue or a death in the family. It could be you need representation in a criminal matter. Whatever the case may be, when you need a lawyer, you need one NOW. But since you probably don’t have one on speed dial, how do you find a good one, and how do you know if the one you do find IS a good one?
The Minimum You Should Expect
There are a few things you should be able to expect from any law office worth hiring, no matter what specialty you’re looking for.
When you call a lawyer’s office, it is very reassuring to speak to a real human being instead of leaving a message. While you may not always speak to an attorney first thing, speaking with a knowledgeable representative or a lawyer answering service can help you get your point across better than if you just left a message. This kind of attention to client needs is a hallmark of a professional office.
After you’ve left a message with a receptionist or answering service, whether you are still a prospective client or have been working with this attorney for a while, you should be able to count on a response from the lawyer as needed. Some experts estimate within 24-48 hours, but sooner if the situation warrants it. Don’t be alarmed if someone from the staff responds, like a paralegal that might be on your team. The key here is that they don’t just leave you hanging.
Legal issues, no matter what kind, are private and should stay that way. All lawyers, by law, must keep your case confidential and not discuss it with anyone outside their firm or any other parties as necessary. If you don’t feel your attorney can do that, look elsewhere.
What Kind of Lawyer Do You Need?
Now that you know what to expect from a good lawyer, the key to good representation is finding one that’s experienced and knowledgeable in the area you need. Here are a few legal specialties that you might need one day.
Family Law – A lawyer that specializes in family law will handle cases of divorce, custody, and guardianship. They also take ones involving child welfare, juvenile delinquency and adoption.
Estate Planning – This specialty has attorneys who are experts in things like wills, trusts, probate, and property rights. When it comes time to decide how you want your money and assets handled, before and after your death, this is the kind of lawyer you need.
Immigration – Anyone looking to work, study or live in the US legally should avail themselves of the expertise of an immigration lawyer. A good one will have special training in dealing with the intricacies of the often complex processes.
Personal Injury Lawyers – These professionals get involved in cases of accident or injury caused by one person or company against an individual. Things like car accidents, slip-and-fall cases, dog bites and more are under their purview.
Criminal Law – Any time a person is charged with a crime, they are read the Miranda Warning, part of which informs them of their right to an attorney. The kind you need in this case is one that specializes in criminal law. These could include everything from DUIs to petty theft to much more.
Bankruptcy Lawyer – Financial insolvency is a stressful situation for most people. When deciding whether or not to file bankruptcy, getting advice from a lawyer who specializes in these procedures is wise. As these laws tend to change frequently and because creditors are going to do everything possible to protect their interests, you need someone to look out for you. That’s where a bankruptcy attorney comes in.
You have a right to be treated professionally and courteously by those in the legal profession, no matter what your reason for seeking them out. This guide can help you figure out what kind of lawyer you might need depending on your circumstances.