The legal process can be complicated and confusing for someone unfamiliar with it, but legal professionals have specialized skills to help you navigate during some of your most stressful situations. Here is some general information to help you feel comfortable.
When do I need to see a lawyer?
Some examples of when you should consider seeking out a lawyer include:
- Being arrested for a crime;
- Being served with documents related to a legal proceeding or lawsuit;
- Being involved in a serious accident causing personal injury or property damage;
- A change or pending change in family status, such as separation, divorce, co-habitation, or adoption;
- A change or pending change in financial status, such as filing for bankruptcy or acquiring or losing valuable personal property or real estate; and
- When there is a death, and you are the named Executor in the Will, where there is no Will, and/or where your rights may be impacted.
Once you have determined that you need professional legal help, get it promptly. You can get the most help if you are in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.
What services can a lawyer provide?
Lawyers offer a variety of services. A lawyer’s principal responsibility is to see that each client obtains the benefit of his or her legal rights and is aware of his or her legal obligations. In approaching this duty, lawyers have three fundamental obligations. Lawyers must:
- Serve clients competently;
- Be completely loyal to clients; and
- Keep client communications confidential.
In addition to the three fundamental obligations described above, lawyers are also required to provide a certain quality of service. The services lawyers can provide include:
- Answering legal questions;
- Helping clients find an answer;
- Appearing in court on a client’s behalf;
- Mediating disputes;
- Counseling clients;
- Planning estates and administering wills;
- Drafting contracts;
- Structuring private deals;
- Lobbying government to change laws;
- Drafting legislation;
- Writing letters and opinions;
- Taking steps to avoid litigation;
- Negotiating settlements; and
- Providing advice about clients’ legal problems and possible outcomes.
What questions should I ask before hiring a lawyer?
The following list of questions will help you determine which lawyer is right for you based on their experience, their availability and your budget.
- How long have you been in practice?
- How many matters like mine have you handled before?
- How long have you practiced at this particular firm?
- In what areas of law do you practise?
- Do you have enough time to deal with my problem quickly?
- How quickly can I expect resolution?
- When can we meet?
- How much do you charge for your services?
- Approximately how much will your services cost me in total?
- Do you provide your clients with a detailed written statement of fees?
- Do you charge anything for the first meeting?