It may seem like a black and white matter, but because legal troubles almost always stir one’s emotions, knowing whether or not you need a lawyer or when to hire one can be confusing. Legal issues come in a number of forms. While some require a lawyer’s help, others don’t. In some cases, the legal situation has already happened and is clearly illegal, such as someone getting terminated from work after refusing sexual advances from a manager, or getting punched in the face by some crazy person at a bar. Then there are situations that could potentially turn into a legal problem like someone getting injured on your property. You also have incidents where no crime has occurred, yet hiring a lawyer may be ideal, like when you launch your own business. Some of the most popular reasons why people hire attorneys include:
- Tax problems
- Selling or buying a business or a piece of real estate
- An accident that results in death or personal injury
- Estate planning and wills
- Divorce and child custody
- Starting a business
- An arrest by law enforcement
- Discrimination or harassment
- Immigration visas or status problems
- Damage to personal property
Identify the Type of Legal Aid You May Need
It is always wise to consult with a lawyer to see if his services are required. First things first, don’t just do a Google search on any lawyer for a consultation; look for a lawyer who practices in the area of law that best meets your needs. For example, if you are getting a divorce and you have children, you will need to have a consultation with a family lawyer who has experience in fighting custody battles and rights to assets. If you got arrested for running down your spouse with a Jeep, you don’t need a consultation with a divorce lawyer but instead a criminal attorney.
When Lawyers Aren’t Necessary
If no legal action is required, lawyers will let you know as there is no reason for them to waste time on stretching a case out of thin air for a bottom-of-the-barrel fee when their time could be used on an actual case that would pay for their precious time. For example, if someone gets in a car accident, both parties are insured, and no bodily injury has occurred, someone might go running to a lawyer out of fear that the other person will fake an injury and sue. Yet any lawyer would tell this person that until an accusation has been made and papers served, there is no point to talk to an attorney.
In other cases, a paralegal can be hired if someone needs help in filing papers for a small claims case, like a neighbor borrowing $2000 and refusing to pay you back. Paralegals are also often used in place of lawyers when contracts need to be drafted.
Another common reason for not hiring a lawyer is if someone has low income and may not be able to afford legal fees. In this case, there are nonprofits that provide legal services for qualifying persons.
When Is the Right Time to Talk to a Lawyer?
If in fact you know you are about to be sued, or you plan on taking legal action against another person, but you just don’t know when that would be, it is wise to speak with a lawyer right away. There are statutes of limitation that differ from one state to the next, and in the event you have a case it is always better to consult with a lawyer sooner than later. This way you have more time to take certain unforeseen actions and you know where you stand.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.