I remember when I was growing up and I heard my mother say “I have to call my lawyer” for the first time. I remember thinking it was so odd that she “had” a lawyer. What did she need a lawyer for? Then when I was older, the first time someone asked me who my lawyer was, I was instantly transported back to that moment in the kitchen as a child wondering why I needed a lawyer. Then, I quickly realized everyone needs a lawyer on tap, for a plethora of reasons. It’s important to choose a lawyer or a law firm that you are comfortable with, and not just because they are in close proximity to you.
Ask the law firm how long they have been in business. It’s important to know what kind of experience you are getting when you come into a relationship with a lawyer. Of course, you don’t have to stick with the same lawyer for everything, but it helps when you have someone on your side that you can trust. And the only want to build trust, is to build a lasting relationship.
You’ll want to consider what you’ll need a lawyer for: life events such a marriage, buying a house, or divorce all warrant the use of a lawyer. But there are other reasons, more unforeseen circumstances in which you may need to call on a lawyer or law firm. If you or your family has been the victim of crime, you might consider a law firm like Liberty Law. You regular lawyer who helped you buy your first home might not be cut out to take on a criminal investigation the way a criminal lawyer could. It’s important to know the scope that your lawyer is comfortable working in for you.
The next thing you’ll want to consider is price. While a good lawyer is worth their weight in gold, you can only afford what you can afford when it comes to legal advice. Most lawyers charge over $200 an hour and a good lawyer can charge anywhere between $500 and $1200 an hour. That’s more than a month’s salary for some people. I had a friend once who wanted to divorce her husband but couldn’t afford to pay the lawyer, so she offered to go and work for the lawyer on evenings and weekends doing paralegal duties to pay off her bill. It worked out for her, but that’s not always an option. Still though, everything is up for negotiation so you can put parameters around when your lawyer will bill you. For example, you might say “no emails” because you’ll be billed for that.
Finally, you’ll want to actually sit down and talk to the lawyer you want to keep on retainer or may need in the future. It’s important that you feel comfortable talking to this person, or group of people. If you don’t like the vibe or the personality, move on. Dealing with the law is very stressful and you don’t need the added stress of working with a person you don’t like or trust. Spend time looking for a lawyer that meets your needs and you’ll be glad you did.
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