When an individual is faced with a legal issue and they do not know where to turn, seeking out the assistance of an attorney can be overwhelming. There are thousands of lawyers practicing law, and finding the right one can be a challenge.
Thankfully, there are numerous resources to help individuals find the right lawyer to talk to about their case. If an individual is looking for a lawyer in the State of New York, there are many places an individual can search for an attorney they can trust.
Does the State Bar Association Offer Referrals?
For an individual who is seeking legal assistance in New York, the state bar association is a great place to start. Numerous state bar associations offer lawyer referral services that can ease the burden of an individual’s search for legal representation.
An individual can briefly explain their situation and receive information on lawyers practicing law who would most likely be able to handle the individual’s issue. The referral services that are provided by the New York State Bar Association can provide referrals for hundreds of New York lawyers covering more than 44 counties in New York State.
The information that an individual provides to the state bar referral service is considered confidential, and the service is free. Typically, referrals through the state bar service cost $35 for the first 30 minutes of an initial consultation.
However, in certain situations, an initial consultation may be free.
Are Referral Fees Legal?
Yes, referral fees charged by lawyer referral services are legal. In many situations, there is a limit on the amount the lawyer can charge for their initial consultation.
Are There Local Referral Services for a New York Lawyer?
If an individual resides in one of the counties that are not served by the New York State Bar referral service, they may be able to consult with their local bar association. Almost every county in New York has its own bar association.
For example, the counties of Erie and Richmond have bar associations. In addition, New York City has an association that offers referral services. Local bar associations often offer pre-negotiated low fees for initial consultations, usually between $20 to $40, depending on the area.
There are also several legal professional associations that focus on specific areas of the law of specific interest groups that offer referral services. For example, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and the National Employment Lawyers Association, New York Chapter, provide both referrals and field requests for legal assistance.
Some of these associations may also provide free legal clinics for individuals with low to moderate incomes or who may not otherwise be able to afford legal services.
What Are Private Attorney Referral Services?
In addition to contacting a local bar association, an individual may also be able to use a private attorney referral service. These services offer to match an individual’s needs with lawyers who work in their location as well as practice in the specific legal areas that would likely be helpful to the individual’s case.
Many private lawyer referral services are available online, 24 hours a day, and provide multiple referrals so that an individual can choose the lawyer with whom they wish to consult. The majority of these services also provide background or additional information regarding the lawyer that is referred.
Usually, private referral services are free to use. They also often have pre-negotiated, reduced rates for the initial consultation with the individual’s selected attorney.
The initial consultation fee often ranges from $0 to $50. An individual could be able to identify the area of law that the attorney they consult needs to practice in. In that case, they may be able to consult a non-profit organization for a referral.
For example, if an individual wants to adopt a child, they may contact the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA). This organization includes approximately 500 lawyers who practice adoption and assisted reproduction.
If an individual has an issue involving homeowners associations (HOAs), condominium associations, and cooperatives, they can consult with the Community Associations Institute. Their website offers access to a College of Community Association Lawyers Directory through which an individual can search for an attorney who has experience with HOAs and condominium associations.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?
The cost to hire a lawyer may vary depending on numerous factors, including, but not limited to:
- Type of case: More complex or high-profile cases likely require more time and resources and, because of that, may be more expensive;
- Experience: A lawyer who has more experience in a certain area of law may charge more for their services than a less experienced lawyer;
- Location: The cost of living as well as the cost of running a law practice in an area may affect the cost of an attorney;
- Attorneys in larger cities or more expensive areas may charge more for their services than those in smaller towns or less expensive areas;
- Billing method: A lawyer may charge an hourly fee, a flat fee, a retainer fee, or a contingency fee;
- The billing method can affect the overall cost of the attorney;
- Law firm size: The size of the law firm can also affect the cost of a lawyer; and
- Competitiveness of the market: The competitiveness of the legal market in an area can affect the cost of an attorney;
- In a highly competitive market, an attorney may charge lower fees to attract clients.
What if I Do Not Have the Money to Hire a Lawyer?
If an individual is aware that they do not have the money to hire an attorney, they may have several options, depending on their legal issue. An individual may have been charged with a criminal offense. If so, the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that an individual who is accused of a crime has the right to be represented by a lawyer.
If an individual cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide them with one if the crime they are charged with may result in imprisonment of 6 months or more. In some states, an individual may be provided an attorney for any criminal charges.
With civil cases, there are legal aid societies that may offer free or low-cost legal services to represent an individual with a civil issue. For example, a service may represent an individual in an eviction or if they are in financial trouble with a creditor.
An individual can search online for legal clinics or legal aid societies in their community. It is important to be careful when searching online because an advertisement may look legitimate and not be.
The majority of legal aid programs have certain criteria, such as income, to determine who is eligible to receive their services. An individual’s employer, labor union, credit union, or other groups may offer a legal insurance plan that may give an individual access to a lawyer at an affordable cost.
An individual’s insurance policies, such as their homeowner’s or car insurance, may pay for an attorney to represent them if they are sued. For example, an individual might have been injured on residential property. If that is the case, the homeowner’s insurance may pay for a lawyer to defend them if the victim files a lawsuit.
What Should I Know Before My First Meeting With a Lawyer?
The majority of first meetings with a lawyer only last about 30 minutes. An individual should gather all important documents and materials they think are relevant to their case and be prepared to provide their lawyer with as much true and accurate information about their situation as possible.
It is also important for an individual to prepare a list of questions prior to their appointment to make sure all of their concerns are addressed. An individual may also want to take notes regarding the answers the lawyer provides to their questions.
Should I Consult a New York Lawyer?
If you need legal assistance in the State of New York, it is important to consult with a New York lawyer. Your lawyer can provide you with advice about your situation as well as professional guidance on how to proceed while protecting your rights.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, your attorney can prepare the required documents and file your lawsuit. Your attorney will also represent you in court and work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.