When You Need a Lawyer
While consulting with a lawyer to answer a legal question or assist with another legal matter is rarely a bad idea, it is not always necessary. Given the costs often associated with hiring a lawyer, it is good to know when it is necessary to do so, and when it is not.
There are some situations where consulting with a lawyer is definitely necessary. Some examples:
- You have been arrested
- You have been charged with a crime
- You have not yet been charged with a crime, but think you might be indicted soon
- You are being sued
- You wish to file a lawsuit
- You wish to obtain a divorce, or you have been served with divorce papers
- You are involved in a child custody dispute
- You are undergoing a major change in your financial status, such as buying or selling valuable property, or filing for bankruptcy
There are many legal situations which you can probably handle yourself. For example:
- You are entering a contract. If you have read the contract thoroughly, and understand its terms, you probably don’t need to consult with a lawyer before you sign it. However, if you are at all unclear about what a contract says, you should have a lawyer go over it and explain what it means before you agree to anything.
- You have to appear in small claims court. In many jurisdictions, lawyers are not allowed in small claims court, and parties are expected to represent themselves. The procedure in small claims court is usually simple and streamlined, making it accessible to laypersons.
There are other situations in which legal help may be useful, but you do not necessarily need a lawyer. For example, if you only require legal information. While only lawyers are competent to give legal advice, anyone who is knowledgeable about the law is technically competent to give legal information.
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Last Modified: 09-25-2013 03:33 PM PDT
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