Who Needs an Attorney?
Most people never think about needing an attorney. Nevertheless, situations will inevitably arise in the lives of some people that will require an attorney’s intervention. Oftentimes, individuals face circumstances outside of their control, such as victims of drunk driving car accidents who are suddenly burdened with mounting medical bills. Other examples may include consumers harmed by defective products or workers injured on the job.
Situations such as these involve navigating complex legal terrain and clearly fall outside of an ordinary person’s general knowledge base. Moreover, cases like these require the scrutiny of an experienced, trusted attorney determined to seek the best possible outcomes for his or her clients.
When to Seek an Attorney’s Counsel
If you find yourself wondering whether to consult with an attorney about a specific legal issue, chances are you could benefit from having representation—especially if you have been injured, have suffered a personal or financial loss, or have been wronged by an individual or organization. However, not every legal issue requires the use of an attorney. Minor traffic infractions, civil disputes, and small-claims court proceedings can be resolved without an attorney’s guidance, although this path is not always recommended.
Before taking legal action of any kind, it would be wise to first consult with a licensed attorney who regularly practices in the area of your case. Most reputable law firms offer free initial consultations, giving apprehensive clients a risk-free opportunity to explore their legal options. During your free consultation, make sure to provide your attorney with all relevant details and documentation related to your case. He or she will be able to determine whether hiring an attorney makes financial sense given your unique legal circumstances.
In certain types of cases, attorney’s fees are contingent on favorable outcomes for the client. In other words, there are many instances in which the client does not pay unless he or she wins the case. With these types of cases, there is no reason anyone should proceed without an attorney. Your prospective lawyer will be able to tell you whether your case is payable by contingency, or whether they require a retainer up front.
Where to Look for an Attorney
People facing legal challenges don’t need to go to Milwaukee or Madison to find a competent attorney. There is likely a wealth of qualified Wisconsin lawyers right in your own back yard. An attorney who practices in your community will have a more intimate knowledge of the laws in your area, and will also have developed relationships with other attorneys, judges, and prosecutors likely to be involved in your case. Having an attorney with a large network of connections allows your lawyer to tailor his or her approach to the temperament and style of the parties involved.
For those just beginning their search for legal representation, consider asking friends, neighbors, and relatives if they can recommend someone in your area. Word of mouth travels fast, especially in rural and suburban towns. If there’s a good lawyer in your area, chances are someone you know can point you in the right direction.
Consider also checking online for top-rated attorneys in your area. Any law firm worth its salt will have a plethora of positive reviews from satisfied clients and examples of cases successfully litigated in your practice area. Your attorney should have a track record of pursuing favorable judgments and have the receipts to back it up.
Why Not Go It Alone?
Diving headlong into a legal dispute without an attorney by your side is tantamount to a first-time skydiver leaping from a plane without an instructor. Sure, there is a slim chance he will make it through the experience unscathed, but is it worth the risk? Like skydiving instructors, attorneys have extensive training and years of experience to offer people who have little to no experience with their profession. Below are five of the top reasons to hire an attorney.
- The law is complex and always changing. Armchair attorneys may feel they can successfully defend themselves by doing their own legal research online. Like with many things on the internet, however, the information a person finds may be flawed, outdated, or just plain wrong. Representing oneself in court may be a popular theme in movies and television, but it is rarely advisable in the court of law.
- An attorney can present your strongest case. An experienced lawyer can evaluate evidence and present your case in the most favorable light possible, as well as inform you about the full range of legal options available to you.
- Lawyers have the power of negotiation. Attorneys can leverage their experience at the negotiating table to push for better terms for their clients. In an injury case, for example, an attorney can negotiate a settlement for their client to get paid for lost wages, medical bills, along with pain and suffering.
- Attorneys can leverage expert testimony. Many successful attorneys have longstanding connections with experts pertinent to specific types of cases. Gathering relevant testimony from these experts can oftentimes greatly improve outcomes for people who would otherwise have no corroborating testimony.
- Your opponent likely has legal representation. This is perhaps the most obvious reason to hire an attorney—the other team has one! People squaring off against opposing legal teams will have a tough time controlling the outcome of their cases if they don’t have an equally savvy lawyer on their side. Plaintiffs, by and large, don’t have the proper training to effectively refute an attorney with years of litigation experience.
While there are many reasons to hire an attorney in the event of a legal dispute, there are few reasons a person should ever represent themselves in the legal space. Our judicial system was designed to ensure fair treatment under the law. In order to guarantee you are receiving equal justice, it is imperative that you have a trusted attorney on your side.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case
Beware of attorneys who take on clients for every case type. While most bar-certified lawyers graduate law school equipped to practice in a variety of legal areas, no career attorney can honestly say he or she is an expert in every aspect of the law. There is an immense number of laws currently on the books in the United States, and new precedents and legal challenges are added each day.
A person dealing with a legal issue of any magnitude would do well to thoroughly research his or her future advocate. Answering the four questions below is a great way to begin your search.
- Are they licensed in your state?
- Do they handle your type of case?
- What are previous clients saying?
- Do they get results?
Ultimately, prospective legal clients should feel that they can trust their attorneys to pursue the best possible outcomes on their behalf. That trust should be reinforced by a track record of results, positive reviews, and a compassionate approach to each client’s unique legal situation.