What are the steps to getting legal council?
- I need a lawyer – now what?
- Choose a lawyer
- Negotiate a legal agreement
- Paying your lawyer
I need a lawyer – now what?
When you find yourself in the position of requiring legal counsel, you may not have all the information necessary to begin this process. It may also be an overwhelming task to begin researching and considering your options after the need for council has already been established. When possible, it is best to have already selected a lawyer before needing one; this saves time, stress, and prepares you to begin navigating any legal matters that may arise without the worry of wondering who is going to represent you, or how you are going to find them.
However, sometimes things happen when we least expect them – so, regardless of whether you are trying to access legal counsel before or after you need it – there are many things to consider when this situation arises. Some things you may be wondering are: Who do I contact? Is there an area of legal practice that would be the most appropriate for my situation? What are the things I should be looking for in a potential lawyer?
The truth is that there are several potential answers to each of these questions – and there is more than one correct answer! That is to say that the answers depend on several different factors, such as the reason you are seeking counsel, what area of the law the situation is pertaining to, what your budget is, how much time you can dedicate to the legal process, and what you are hoping for as an outcome. Because a “correct” answer for these questions for one person may not be correct for someone else in a similar position, it can be difficult to know what the best choice for you and your situation is.
A good place to start when you find yourself amidst a legal dispute is to do some research on the laws surrounding your situation. This is beneficial for two main reasons; first, the more you know about the laws surrounding your case before consulting a lawyer, the less they will have to explain to you, which saves time – and therefore, money! Secondly, it will help narrow down which area of the law would be ideal for your chosen council to specialize in. If your case is something that a potential lawyer has a lot of experience in dealing with, they will be able to provide more thorough information and guidance throughout the legal process, and you may also have a better chance of reaching the outcome you are seeking compared to choosing council without this experience.
Once you have a general idea of the legalities involved, you can start researching the council options in your area and compare prices. Often, there are online resources available based on your location that can help connect you with local legal counsel.
Additionally, if any friends or family have had a particularly positive experience with a local lawyer, it may be worth following up on any recommendations they have.
Choose a lawyer
At this point, you should have an idea of potential council options in your area and a general price range for these services. There are other considerations to keep in mind as well, such as whether they offer flexible rates based on income (if that is something that you need), or whether there are time-related constraints such as limited availability for taking on new cases or a waitlist for services. Considering these factors will help you decide which lawyer would be the best fit for your situation.
When you settle on which lawyer you want to represent you, the next step is to reach out to them! You will want to arrange a consultation with them to ensure that they are a good fit, that they are able to provide the services you are seeking, discuss pricing, and go over any other relevant considerations regarding your case. At this point, they should be able to answer any specific questions you may have and address any concerns.
Negotiate a legal agreement
After the initial consultation, it’s time to work out a specific legal agreement where you and your lawyer ultimately decide on the best course of action based on the options that they are providing you and your desired outcome. The lawyer should have a good idea of the services they can provide for you and the outcome they believe they can achieve for your case, and you should be aware of their rates and pricing before arriving at this stage.
It is at this point that you want to be certain that you and your lawyer are on the same page in terms of how you would both like to see the case resolved before proceeding, as this will influence the course of action taken. You want your lawyer to be confident that they can provide a strong defense and make the best possible attempt to win the case!
Paying your lawyer
When it comes to the financial aspect of hiring council, what you are going to pay and when you are going to pay varies depending on who you choose, the type of legal matter, and their individual policies and rates. Discussing and agreeing upon rates is something that should happen during your first consultation with a lawyer to ensure that there are no surprises, that you are able to afford the services, and that you are comfortable with how the fees are calculated.
Most lawyers charge an hourly fee while others charge a fixed fee, and this often depends on the type of legal matter. Additionally, in cases such as those involving personal injury or automobile accidents, there may be a contingency fee, which means that your lawyer will receive a percentage of the settlement money awarded to you if you win the case.
Be aware that there may be extra costs that come up depending on the nature of the case; some examples include fees for further investigations, paperwork, hiring experts, and jury fees. It is best to assume the potential of spending more than you are quoted on paper, to ensure that you have the extra finances in case this occurs.
To summarise, unexpectedly finding yourself in need of legal counsel can certainly be stressful and daunting, but the tips we have covered here can help ensure that you are as prepared as possible when these situations arise.
Having a lawyer before you need one is ideal, but when that’s not an option, knowing how to proceed and what to expect will help you navigate the situation as smoothly as possible.
Things like doing your research on the laws involved in your case, comparing the prices and services of your options for council, and consulting with potential lawyers can help you gather the most information, and ultimately make your decision.