When you’re faced with a legal situation, it is helpful to consult a qualified attorney who can answer your questions and give you advice about the best way to proceed. If you don’t have any contacts with attorneys in your circle of acquaintances, however, it may be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, you don’t have to be overwhelmed by the search — there are many resources available to you that can take the stress out of finding the right attorney to help.

What are Lawyer Referral Services?

Many state bar associations offer lawyer referral services, where you can provide a few details about your issue or a brief statement of the type of help you’re looking for and receive referrals to attorneys who practice in the areas of law most likely to be helpful to your case.

If you’re seeking legal help in New Jersey, however, finding help might be a little bit more difficult. The New Jersey Bar does not provide a centralized lawyer referral service, so there is no one definitive place to go when seeking a New Jersey attorney. There are several other options, though.

Many of the local county bar associations offer referral services that you may find useful. While the New Jersey State Bar Association does not have a centralized lawyer referral service, they do have a list on their website of county bar associations that offer referral services. In most cases, you can either call in to the referral service and talk to a live person who can refer you to an attorney, or you can access these services online.

However, the New Jersey State Bar Association recommends that you contact the referral service for the county where you require legal services, and not contact referral services outside of your county. You may also be limited in the number of referrals that you can request at one time, which means you may have to make multiple referral requests in order to get a second opinion on your case.

These local referral services are generally free to use, meaning that it costs nothing to get the attorney’s name and contact information.  However, you may have a small fee for your first meeting with the attorney — usually running between $25 and $50 for a consultation of up to one hour (in many circumstances, however, the initial consultation fee may only provide for the first half hour).

Some local associations, like the Atlantic County Bar Association for example, may also make general referrals, as well as referrals based on location and specialty (which can be handy if you don’t need an attorney immediately, but anticipate requiring legal services in the near future).

What are Private Attorney Referral Services?

In addition to contacting the local county bar associations, there are also many private lawyer referral services that you can reach out to. Many of these private referral services conveniently allow you to look for an attorney online.

Most private services also provide multiple referrals, so you can have a list of potential lawyers to work with rather than just one or two provided from the local bar association. While this may seem overwhelming for some, it also means that you have a better chance of finding the best attorney suited for your case.

As with the bar associations, many of these private referral services are free to use, so there is no fee for the referral, and often have pre-negotiated lower fees for your initial consultation.

How Should I Prepare for an Initial Consultation?

When you have your initial consultation with your new lawyer, you want to be prepared so that you can make the most out of your first meeting. Much of the time, initial consultations are charged by the half hour, so it is in your best interests to be as organized as possible. Have any papers or documents that you think are important to your case ready, and be prepared to explain the situation to the lawyer.

In order to give you the best advice on how to proceed with the situation, they will need to have a clear picture of the circumstances. You may also want to prepare a list of questions before you go to your appointment, so that you don’t forget anything once you’re there.

It’s also a good idea to talk about costs during this meeting. If your issue requires more work than your initial consultation, you will want to have a good idea of what the expenses will be.  Ask if you can have the attorney’s fees in writing. This way, you will know exactly what to expect when it comes to financing your case, and you know exactly what services you are paying for.  In some civil cases, the attorney may be willing to work on a contingency basis.

What Should I Know about Hiring a Lawyer in New Jersey?

You do not have to hire the first lawyer you have a consultation with. The nice thing about referral services is that you can get several options to choose from, and find a lawyer with whom  you are comfortable enough to trust with your case.

Once you are working with an attorney that you are comfortable with, keep clear records of the work on your case. Keep any documents you receive from your lawyer in a safe place, and keep the documents together. Keeping an organized file of the work that has been done on your case can often help to answer questions you may have.

Should I Hire a New Jersey Lawyer?

If you have a legal situation and need help in New Jersey, it is in your best interests to contact a qualified New Jersey lawyer.  Although the state bar association does not offer referrals, there are plenty of resources available to fill that need, whether through the local bar associations or through private services. These services help to find the right attorney for you and your case.