We all want to think that there are situations we can handle for ourselves. We’re grown ups now; we want to push aside the idea that we need assistance for anything. We can settle disputes, make big changes, solve messy problems – or at least, that’s what we want to believe about ourselves.
However, we can’t all be good at that kind of thing. There is an entire profession dedicated to solving the issues of other people; those who work in the law. When an issue or problem we have descends to the point where we have to seek legal advice, we can feel that we have lost, or somehow failed.
In reality, the law of the land is so complex that it’s only natural we can’t learn it all. There becomes a point in any issue where we realize we can’t do it ourselves. We make an error like a driving offense, and we realize we have to call in a specialist. We have a visa problem and need to talk to an immigration lawyer. There is a whole field of law dedicated to business, yet we hesitate before raising our employment issue to that point.
Whatever the issue, it’s no great failure to have gotten to the point where we need help. You find yourself needing a lawyer. If you’ve never done this before, that can be almost as daunting as admitting you need one in the first place.
Here’s a handy guide should you ever need to go about finding legal representation. Fingers crossed you’re not ever going to feel like you have to use it, but if things escalate to that point, it’s best to be prepared.
- Figure out what kind of lawyer you need.
The law is wide and varied. It’s split down into an almost countless amount of different specialties. If you need visa assistance, then a criminal lawyer isn’t going to do you much good. You can’t just pick a name and expect them to be able to help.
With a little online searching, you can quickly find which area of law your problem falls into. You can then narrow your search only to lawyers that are going to be able to help.
- Look for feedback and reviews.
Hiring a lawyer is not dissimilar to any other kind of service. You will be able to find advice and feedback – though a testimony on their website is not enough. Join a few legal forums and run the firm’s name through search engines, as well as the name of any individual lawyers.
If you’ve only got testimonies on the law firm’s website to go off, try and verify them. If they’re credited with a name, then go and search for it on social media. Do a reverse image search on Google to see if the picture they’ve used is a stock photo. As a last resort, ask the firm themselves if they have any former clients willing to testify for them – though most times you won’t need to go that far.
- Be honest.
There is no point hiring someone to argue your case if you then lie about your case. Depending on your situation, this might mean divulging some things about yourself that you’re not too proud of. But you’re going to have to do it, because anything else could literally ruin your argument.
Just because you tell your lawyer something bad about yourself doesn’t mean they will use it. It just means that they can be prepared for it being used against you. They can have counter-arguments ready to go rather than having to be on the defensive, floundering for a comeback.
If you’re worried about privacy, when money has changed hands, your lawyer can’t discuss your case with anyone else. You can be honest without fear of recrimination – even if you did something illegal. Of course, if you did, they might be able to advise you on a suitable way to proceed rather than form their argument around a lie.
- Take someone with you to the first meeting.
Let’s face it; lawyers are daunting. They’re high-powered and intellectual individuals, even though most are calm and personable people. Dealing with the issue at hand on top of your nerves can be overwhelming, so bring someone else to any initial contact points.
For the same reason, it’s also helpful to provide a written copy of your side of events. This isn’t something you’re submitting in evidence; but a baseline that you and your representative can refer to. If it’s something illegal, then just refer to “the matter at hand” – and only specify what that matter is verbally.
- Questions to ask at that first meeting.
If you’re panicked or worried, you might not be as diligent as you should be. So make sure you take along a cheat sheet reminder of a few essential things you need to know. Write down the answers, too – this is not a time to be relying on memory. You should at least look to ascertain:
- The hourly rate and the increments for minimum billing. Sometimes fees can be a little obtuse, so make sure you have got a clean answer beforehand.
- An estimate of how many hours your case is going to take. This is only an estimate, but if you ask a few firms, you should at least be able to spot a firm that is overestimating.
- What happens if the case takes longer than the above – do the rates change? If they do, is it in your favor or theirs?
- Whether there is a phone call charge for all communications you receive from them, such as letters and emails. This is often left out of an initial estimate, but you need to be aware of it as the price can run up.
With your questions answered and a good reputation backing up a firm, then you can move forward. Remember, this is a matter you have to deal with, and having the right team on your side makes all the difference to your success.