If you are involved in a legal matter and need to find an attorney, you should first understand the specific nature of your claim. For instance, a personal injury attorney isn’t the same as a criminal attorney. If you are involved in a civil matter, you want to find an attorney who specializes in your type of case, whether that’s a tax dispute, employment discrimination suit, or a lawsuit involving a breach of contract.
Many attorneys offer an initial free consultation so if you are uncertain precisely which area of law covers your legal controversy, the attorney should be able to help you determine that.
- How Should I Go About Finding a Lawyer in Michigan?
- What are the Lawyer Referral Services in Michigan?
- What Information Should I Have in Front of Me When I Use a Lawyer Referral Service?
- Are There Special Bar Associations in Michigan I can Contact?
- What Questions Should I Ask My Attorney?
- Should I Hire a Michigan Lawyer?
Finding a lawyer these days has become easier. Attorneys regularly advertise on television and on billboards or by using written marketing pieces. Furthermore, you can always get a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member.
Here are some additional ways you can find an attorney in Michigan.
- Lawyer referral services;
- Community legal aid centers;
- Legal clinics with local law schools;
- Local bar associations; or
- Judiciary websites.
The State Bar of Michigan offers the Legal Resource and Referral Center. It serves as a guide to answer Michigan resident’s frequently asked questions about choosing an attorney and helping you determine which type of lawyer is best for you particular legal need.
The site offers several ways in which a person can find an attorney to represent them:
- Self-guided attorney online directory that you can use to find an attorney yourself;
- Lawyer referral assistance service that matches you with attorneys after an initial free consultation;
- A program for lower income people that identifies attorneys who offer reduced cost legal help;
- Self-help resources for people who want to handle their legal case themselves;
- Legal aid help guide for those who may qualify; and
- General legal information and answers to frequently asked questions.
When using a lawyer referral service, you should prepare a few items that will help your search go more smoothly. These can include:
- Your geographic location (i.e. your county);
- The practice area addressing your specific legal issue;
- The identities of other parties who may be involved in your case; and
- Any information you can provide about your case to help the attorney determine whether there is a conflict and whether they can help with your matter.
Contacting the Michigan Bar Association can be helpful whatever the practice area implicated by your legal matter. If your legal issue is highly specialized and you know enough about what type of lawyer you might need, you also can contact one of the special bar associations in your area.
The Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association for example, can connect you with intellectual property attorneys, patent agents, and law students in the state of Michigan to work on your case if it involves patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property issues. If you need a criminal attorney, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, a statewide criminal defense attorney organization, might be helpful to you.
You have the right to represent yourself in your own legal matter, but if you decide to hire an attorney, you should do your homework. Finding an attorney through a lawyer referral service or family friend shouldn’t be where your due diligence ends.
Interview more than one lawyer before hiring your attorney. Lawyers may offer free consultation during which the client can learn more about the lawyer and their expertise. Be prepared with written questions before taking this meeting so you can make the most of it. Ask about how complicated the lawyer feels your case is, how long it is likely to take to complete, what the possible results are, and what the cost to the attorney will be.
It is perfectly fine to assure yourself during this meeting that the attorney carries malpractice insurance. If you feel rushed during this meeting or aren’t completely satisfied that this attorney has the expertise and temperament to handle your case, you should consider moving on.
Check with Michigan about whether your lawyer has been professionally disciplined and whether they are in good standing with the Michigan bar. If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure you get a written retainer explaining precisely the terms and scope of the lawyer’s services and what you will be paying out of pocket for their representation.
You are typically expected to pay for filing fees, telephone charges, postage fees and copying fees so your retainer agreement should spell those out if this is the case.
Some legal matters can be handled without an attorney. However, if you do feel you need the services of an attorney, you can find a Michigan lawyer using some of the resources identified here. A lawyer in your area can provide you with legal research and guidance for your case and can represent you in court when the time comes.