Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have never worked with an attorney before, the thought of needing one can probably seem a bit intimidating. After all, aren’t lawyers expensive? Don’t they like to yell and boss people around?

The first thing you need to realize is that most lawyers are not like the actors and actresses that portray them on TV shows. What you also may not know is that the vast majority of legal issues requiring a lawyer’s help never end up in court.

Lawyers come from all walks of life, helping people solve problems, from the everyday to the complex.

When Do I Need a Lawyer’s Help?

In short, if you have a legal problem, you likely need a lawyer’s help. Some of the most common scenarios that likely require a lawyer’s help include if you:

  • Were arrested on any type of criminal charge
  • Suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence
  • Were taken advantage of by a business or scam
  • Are getting a divorce or trying to determine child custody
  • Need to get relief from crushing debts through the bankruptcy process
  • Were discriminated against or sexually harassed at work
  • Own a business and are locked in a dispute with a supplier over a contract
  • Resolve a dispute with a zoning board or homeowners’ association

But that’s not all! While the scenarios listed above may involve some sort of adversarial negotiation, many lawyers do work that you might consider more transactional. This includes helping you:

  • Create an estate plan that protects your assets for your loved ones
  • Set up a business and ensure you are compliant with local laws
  • Draft and negotiate contracts of all types
  • Apply for a visa, a green card, or U.S. citizenship
  • Navigate a real estate transaction
  • Review a lease to protect your rights as either a landlord or a tenant
  • Apply for a trademark, patent, or copyright to protect your ideas and intellectual property

What Can a Lawyer Do?

It is important not just to understand when you need a lawyer, but why you need a lawyer and what your lawyer can do for you.

Lawyers are highly trained, and it is their job to stay up to date on changes in the law and understand the complexities of the legal system that it would take you years to learn. Depending on your legal situation, a skilled lawyer will:

  • Interview witnesses and gather and evaluate evidence
  • Persuasively argue on your behalf in court (when necessary)
  • Interpret contractual language into plain English for you to understand
  • Ensure you are complying with local, state, and federal laws and regulations
  • Prevent paperwork errors that could cause costly delays

To boil it down even more simply: your lawyer can protect your legal and constitutional rights, better help you understand your options for resolving your issue, and spot any problems before they spiral out of control.

For example, if you’ve been arrested, your lawyer can help you determine if a plea deal is the best course of action. If you’re getting divorced, your lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement amicably or advise you to be more aggressive. If you have been hurt, your lawyer can help you determine if a settlement is in your best interest.

When Do I Not Need a Lawyer’s Help?

While many — if not most — legal issues may need a lawyer’s help, there will be some relatively minor cases where you may be able to handle it on your own. These include if you:

  • Receive a traffic ticket and you just want to pay it and move on
  • Have a legal dispute that you can resolve in small claims court
  • Intend to quickly accept a settlement offer
  • Are buying or selling a home and the transaction is simple
  • Have read and understand the documents you are signing

In all of the above scenarios, however, it may still be wise to consult with an attorney to better evaluate your situation. It is possible to hire attorneys for minor matters without spending a lot of money.

Now What?

Once you decide on hiring an attorney, the next step is finding the right one for your situation. You can do that by checking out our free nationwide directory of lawyers. The directory contains the names and contact information of attorneys near you who have the right experience to protect your rights and help you find a resolution for your legal issue.  

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