A person facing a legal issue will likely discover that finding the right lawyer to talk to can be challenging. A person may be confused about their legal issue and unsure where to start. Thankfully, resources are available for those who do not know where to turn. If a person is seeking an attorney in Vermont, they may find attorney referral services helpful.
Attorney Referral Services in Vermont
What Are Lawyer Referral Services?
Many state bar associations offer lawyer referral services, which allow a person to provide a few details about their situation to receive referrals to local attorneys who practice in the areas of law most likely to be helpful to their situation. Some states provide this service for free, while others may charge a nominal fee for the initial consultation with your referred attorney.
This is the case in Vermont. If a person is looking for a lawyer in Vermont, the Vermont Bar Association (VBA) is a great place to start. The VBA offers an attorney referral service on its website. There is also a phone number a person can call. Or a person can submit a request through an online system. The online request system calls for the person to identify the area of law to which their problem relates, but if they cannot identify it, there is a number a person can call for help.
After submitting their contact information and answering a few questions, a person can indicate any special needs, such as language or location requirements. The Vermont Bar Association then provides a person with a referral to a lawyer who meets their needs.
What If I Cannot Afford a Lawyer?
In criminal cases, if the conviction of the crime charged would result in imprisonment for 6 months or more, the person charged is guaranteed representation by a criminal defense attorney. If the person cannot afford to pay an attorney, the government must provide the person with an attorney at the government’s expense. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to an attorney in criminal cases.
If a person is charged with a crime and wants to be represented by an attorney but cannot afford one, when they are arraigned, they want to tell the judge that they want an attorney but cannot afford to hire one. The judge will appoint a public defender or a private attorney to represent the person. The government will pay the private attorney’s bill.
Unfortunately, the Constitution does not guarantee us a right to legal representation in civil cases. A person must pay for their own attorney when it comes to civil law.
Some non-profit organizations provide legal help to people with low incomes and few assets. In Vermont, Vermont Legal Aid is the organization to which a person wants to turn. Their website is accessible at https://www.vtlegalaid.org. Many other businesses online call themselves legal aid services, but they are for-profit businesses. Vermont Legal Aid is the entity to which people with limited incomes want to turn.
Vermont Legal Aid has 5 offices in Burlington, Montpelier, Rutland, Springfield, and St. Johnsbury. It offers free legal representation to people who qualify financially. These services can be easily accessed at VLS’s website.
Can My Insurance Policies Help Me?
Most people may not be aware of the fact that their insurance policies may provide them with legal representation in some circumstances. For example, if a person is in a car accident and is sued by one of the other people involved, their car insurance may provide them with a lawyer to defend them.
If someone is injured in a person’s home and sues the person for negligence, the person’s homeowners insurance may provide a lawyer to defend the person at the insurance company’s expense.
Other kinds of insurance may also help a person if they are named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit. Professional liability insurance and business liability insurance policies may provide a legal defense when a person is sued concerning their professional or business activities.
So, if a person is sued, they should review their insurance policies to see if one of them may be a source of legal representation.
On the other hand, if a person wants to sue someone else for their negligence in causing a car accident or for their professional malpractice, e.g., medical malpractice, their insurance company will not fund that effort. However, personal injury attorneys who handle these cases work on a contingency fee basis, and they only get paid if they recover damages for their clients.
What Are Private Referral Services?
In addition to contacting the Vermont Bar Association, many private attorney referral services are out there. These also offer great services that match a person’s need for legal representation to attorneys who practice in the geographic area and work in the fields of law that most closely relate to the person’s situation.
Many of these private referral services are conveniently available online, 24 hours a day, and provide multiple referrals. They may also provide additional information about the lawyers to whom the service refers people. This allows a person to make a more informed decision when they select a person with whom they want to consult.
Private lawyer referral services are usually free, and many have pre-negotiated reduced rates for a person’s initial consultation with their selected lawyer.
How Should I Prepare for My Initial Consultation?
Once a person has an appointment to talk to an attorney, you should prepare before your initial consultation to get the most out of the appointment. Many initial consultations are only for thirty minutes to an hour, so be prepared to give the lawyer all the background information for your case.
Bring any papers or documents you think may be important to your case so the lawyer has as much information as possible to give you the best advice. You may also want to prepare a list of questions you must ask during your appointment.
What Should I Know About Hiring a Lawyer?
A person does not have to hire a lawyer just because they have had an initial consultation with them. People can speak to several attorneys if they wish and do not have to commit themselves to the first lawyer they talk to. A person has the freedom to find an attorney they are comfortable with before entrusting their case to someone.
When a person agrees to allow a lawyer to take on their case, they can hire them to represent them. Often, lawyers send a person a letter that sets forth the details of the agreement to work for them, called an “engagement letter.” The engagement letter explains what work the lawyer will do for the person and the fees the attorney will charge. The letter may also include other provisions. A person wants to read it and ensure they are comfortable with its provisions.
Once a person has hired a lawyer, they want to keep copies of all correspondence and documents their lawyer sends them. They should keep invoices, letters, documents, and emails safe. It does not matter whether a person keeps hard copies or digital copies, as long as they have them in a place where they can easily access them if needed.
Having copies can be a good way to answer questions about a person’s case and also allows one to track how things are progressing independently.
Should I Hire a Lawyer in Vermont?
If you are facing a legal issue in Vermont and need help, you want to consult a licensed Vermont lawyer specializing in the type of law you need. Not only are they licensed to practice in the state, which is very important, but they are also familiar with local rules or practices that may influence your case.
It may be intimidating initially, but you never have to face a legal problem alone. Whether you use a private attorney service or the service provided by the Vermont State Bar, you have plenty of resources available to find the right attorney for your case.