When to Hire a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer can be a frustrating process. Finding a qualified attorney takes time. Moreover, lawyers cost money. Given the emotional and financial costs, it’s no wonder many people decide to handle their legal matters themselves. These pressures are sharply felt by African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. A recent ABA study found that these groups are far more likely than whites to enter the courthouse without representation.
However, those who want to serve as their own counsel should heed the advice of President Abraham Lincoln: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Lawyers know how to read complicated and lengthy cases and statutes. More importantly, lawyers know which parts of those cases will persuade judges. Law schools also teach lawyers to check their emotions. It’s not that lawyers don’t have feelings. But lawyers learn not to let their emotions interfere with their judgment.
A person may need a lawyer for any number of things. While no one list can tell you when to hire a lawyer, read on for a list of five times when hiring a lawyer is certainly the right call.
1. When Your Freedom is on the Line
Few things are scarier than facing the prospect of jail. Even a short jail stint can disrupt your life. Moreover, beyond jail time, criminal convictions carry serious consequences in most states. When your freedom and livelihood are on the line, you need to hire a lawyer.
Make no mistake: hiring a criminal lawyer will be expensive, especially if the charges are serious. Moreover, unlike personal injury lawyers, criminal lawyers can’t waive fees in hopes of collecting against a future settlement or judgment. So, criminal lawyers usually collect their fees up-front.
While the cost is considerable, the benefits are as well. Criminal lawyers know how to negotiate plea deals. They know how to read juries. They can negotiate bail and other matters. If your freedom is at stake, you’ll want a lawyer in your corner to help you.
2. When Large Sums of Money Are Involved
Do you have a large estate? Have you inherited a large sum of money? Did you suffer a horrible injury? Are you being sued for a considerable sum? If you find yourself in any situation involving large sums of money, you’ll need a lawyer.
When money is on the line, you need an attorney. She will ensure that you get all of the money you are entitled to. (Or, she will ensure that you keep as much money as possible.) In the courtroom, the lawyer will plead your case. If documents are involved, she will look for clauses that may cost you money. Unless you know what to look for in such a situation, you should hire an attorney
3. When Emotions are High
The most emotional cases lawyers handle do not involve jail or money. Rather, they involve marriage and children. Family law attorneys deal with emotional issues each day. Discrimination lawyers do as well. They know how to calm their clients. They also know when something a client wants is reasonable or unreasonable.
As stated, lawyers learn to divorce their emotions from their logic the minute they start law school. This doesn’t mean your lawyer doesn’t care. In fact, someone with a little emotional distance can see things others cannot. On the other hand, emotion may prevent you from seeing certain realities. If emotions are running high, contact a lawyer
4. When the Other Side has a Lawyer
This point should be obvious, yet it still happens. Showing up to court without a lawyer when the other side has representation makes about as much sense as bringing a sling-shot to a gunfight. No matter how many episodes of Law & Order you’ve watched, no matter how many John Grisham novels you’ve read, no matter how accomplished you are in your own field, you don’t know the law. Please understand that your chances of winning against an actual lawyer are ridiculously slim. Accept your limitations. If the other side has a lawyer, you should have one too.
5.When You’ve Created Something
You’ve created “the next big thing.” It’s awesome. Everyone loves it. You prepare to make millions. But the millions never come because your invention was never legally protected.
Understand this: Patent law is complex. It is so difficult that lawyers must take an additional bar exam to practice in this area. If patent courts don’t let licensed attorneys practice patent law without additional work, people without law degrees should steer clear.
While you may want to handle your legal matter yourself, please take a moment to consider the true cost of representing yourself. While representing yourself is free, remember, you get what you pay for. If you need to find an attorney, use The African American Attorney Network. The Network’s members practice many types of law in a variety of cities and states. Use The Network to find an attorney today.