Where To Turn When Faced with a Legal Fiasco
Life is a difficult journey for everyone. Mixed with the general joy of being alive is the eventual trials and tribulations that befall us all. Behind every birth is an eventual death, not all weddings end in “happily ever after” and accidents frequently involve lawsuits. Of course, lawsuits inevitably necessitate lawyers and the mechanisms of the justice system turning (hopefully in your favor). To prevent it from turning into a fiasco, choosing the right lawyer can make all the difference. But how does one do this?
Picking out lawyers that help instead of hurt (both your wallet and case) is not as easy as going to the Yellow Pages and turning to the “legal help” section. Yes, there are advertisements there for lawyers, but they tend to be less than the best. Most people receive recommendations of lawyers via word of mouth from friends, family, or happy clients that were put in the same legal situation. Rarely do people find their lawyers off billboards, social media, or the radio. Not because these media aren’t valid ways to advertise a business, but simply because they tend to cater to high-volume specialized cases like a divorce attorney or those that practice personal injury law.
Unless you think you have a run-of-the-mill case, you are advised to search for a layer more thoroughly than you would a plumber or electrician. It more than likely will save you thousands of dollars in fees and could potentially save you from seeing the inside of a prison cell. Most law offices offer free short consultation to see if their business is right for you and may even suggest other attorneys that are better for your case. In most states, you are under no obligation to pay for legal services until some sort of agreement is signed, and you should look up the local laws in your area as well as discussing it with the lawyer you are meeting with.
Lawyers That Help With Every Situation Under the Sun
Many people don’t understand the diversity of the legal profession and how specialized it can be. They see the billboard on the highway for the prominent personal injury lawyer and may confuse that with a disability attorney even though the two perform completely separate functions. Just like medicine, the legal field has niches and practitioners that spend their entire lives focusing on one specific area (such as creating a prenuptial agreement). If your situation is general then you are probably fine seeking out any old attorney or meeting with many to determine the best price, but in order to receive specific advice and care on a particular topic you will have to delve into the heart of your issue with someone that knows better.
Let’s Stay In Business, Baby (And Get Some Good Advice)
Whether you’re setting up your own business or working for someone else, navigating the legal complexities and regulations to stay in compliance (and therefore keep making money) is always a challenge. Especially when you have the dual nature of being in compliance with both the federal and state governments, sometimes adding on your local government. It can be exhausting and truly challenging, never knowing if you’re one step away from getting shut down or sued. Luckily, business law lawyers are there to save the day and consult with you on anything that you need to know.
Not only are lawyers running a business themselves (and must stay in compliance), but they have heard it all. Whether you’re a sole proprietor, trying to start an LLC, or creating a full-blown corporation doesn’t matter to them, they’re just interested in being lawyers that help you along on your journey and being properly compensated for their expertise. Each state is different in terms of compliance, and so you want to look for a lawyer that has a high degree of specialty not just by residing in your state, but with your specific types of business. Some lawyers exclusively like to deal with corporations, while others tend to advocate for mom-and-pop shops like your own. It’s worth meeting with a variety of business law lawyers and figuring out who’s got your best interests at heart before writing the first check.
Going Bankrupt: When You’re Out of Cash (But Need a Lawyer in a Flash)
If you are having issues with money, then you’ll want to seek out an attorney that specializes in finance and knows the complex nuances of both your state’s laws related to money and the federal laws that govern all states. If you’re facing bankruptcy or financial ruin of some sort then you will want a highly specialized bankruptcy attorney to guide you through the process as swimmingly as possible without dwindling your resources further or setting you up for liability in the future.
Bankruptcy may seem like it’s cut and dry, but depending on the state you live in there is the possibility of multiple other legal obligations you must fulfill beyond the federal level. There are also special types of bankruptcy and financial filings depending on whether you are a sole proprietor or business. Chapter 11 may get all the media attention, but there are a lot more chapters in the financial law book. Make sure to consult lawyers that help you read it correctly instead of relying on them to translate it for you. If you think that bankruptcy can’t happen to you, think again. In 2005 bankruptcies hit an all-time high with more than 2 million cases started. That means that one out of 55 households filed for bankruptcy, a staggering amount.
Estates, Trusts, and Beneficiaries (Oh My!)
In a similar vein to business and bankruptcy attorneys, an estate planning attorney can be a vital asset in the overall health of your personal and family finances when planning for the future. These are truly lawyers that help you make certain that after you’re gone (or something tragic happens to you, like an accident) that your assets and estate are well taken care of in the case of mental disability or death.
Far from just dealing in last wills and testaments, these specialized attorneys can also draft living trusts, help you strategically avoid burdensome estate taxes (depending on your area), and make sure that your beneficiaries actually receive what they’re promised once you’re gone. They can also arrange for services that people rarely think of such as power of attorney (in case you are still alive, but cannot respond) or specific health care directives toward the end of your life. When looking for an estate planning attorney, it’s best to start with those that completely specialized in this practice so that you know where their focus is.
When Family Becomes Legal
Sometimes families have disputes, and everyone needs an arbitrator or mediator to talk to in order to parse out complex issues. Lawyers that help with this issue specialize in what is called family law and can help with a variety of issues. Family law deals with domestic relations and family matters such as adoptions, matrimonial (marriage) disputes, juvenile law and paternity requirements, just to name a few.
As you can imagine, these matters can be incredibly fraught with emotion, grief, and anger. When someone’s life is on the line, especially a child, emotions run high and the law can seem like a brutal weapon. Or when your child is charged with a crime and possibly facing charges or jail time, these moments can destroy family bliss. But rest assured that in this particular area there are lots of lawyers that help people all the time through all sorts of turmoil. And instead of treating them like numbers on a pay sheet, they recognize the immense responsibility of treating them like human beings and act accordingly.
How Lawyers Save Us All Cash In Specific Situations
You may be a pretty smart cookie and have gotten this far in life without consulting any lawyers or even worrying about the law. If that’s true, pat yourself on the back and keep on being responsible. But statistics seem to indicate that over a given period of time most people will have encounters with the legal system in a variety of ways and some of them will escalate to the point of becoming a significant use of time and resources. Especially if you’ve been caught in the commission of a crime or are put in the unfortunate situation of not being able to afford legal representation in your time of need.
The aura and mystique around the criminal defense attorney may or may not be well deserved. But the general public knows this specialty of law through prominent cases that are often tied to celebrities and the rich or powerful. In this way, they are only stereotyped as “lawyers that help those with money or connections.” And while this may have some truth to it, what the public doesn’t see are all the criminal defense attorneys out there that get plea deals and bargains for regular people. From allowing leniency for first-time offenders so that their lives aren’t ruined to diverting habitual drug offenders to special rehabilitation programs, these attorneys do thankless work that saves their clients money and reduces the tax burden on our public court system.
In a similar vein to the criminal defense attorney, who usually works for the market rate but reduces costs overall, the public defender is the unsung hero of the modern justice system. Especially in a country like the United States, where legal representation is guaranteed by law if you cannot afford it, these attorneys can literally be the only thing stopping a person from going to prison forever. While they work for a flat fee (mandated by the state or federal government), they can still have multiple personal incentives to be amazing defenders. Even when they have better resources of private clients or the government stacked against them, there are stories of public defenders triumphing at all odds in the eleventh hour to make sure that justice is served. These are truly lawyers that help and are often not recognized. If you encounter or have to use them in the future, make sure to let them know.
A Note on Lawyer Reviews and Evaluations (Take Them With a Grain of Salt)
When evaluating lawyers, and especially when trying to find lawyers that help others well (and therefore will help you), it can be tempting to look at online reviews or “unbiased” sites that promise to tell you the truth as they see it. Many of these sites are worthwhile, but it is worth noting that some are merely paid advertisements that publish erroneous information. While it never hurts to look, remember that most reviews (whether positive or negative) tend to be biased toward the extremes. Don’t ignore overly negative or positive reviews, but simply take them with a grain of salt. There is a nuance to professional experiences that many times cannot be summed up into words.
The vast majority of people who have had a satisfactory experience will simply be glad to be done with the whole ordeal and never review the experience publicly anywhere. Similar to doctors, the proof that they indeed received good service will be a favorable outcome in their lives. So instead of reading online reviews when choosing an important professional, meet them face-to-face in their office or over a quick bite to eat. You’re probably a better judge of character than all the online users in the world. And if you’re not, it was definitely worth a try.
After You’ve Been Through the Ringer, Give Thanks
After you’ve been through a tough legal scenario, it can be tempting to want to tune out the world completely. You don’t want to hear anything about motions, filings, court dates, or legal fees and would prefer to catch up on the latest Netflix series. While this is perfectly understandable, and it’s important to recharge your mind and body after multiple stressors, remember who got you through this situation so that you could end up on your couch instead of a jail cell: lawyers. Not doctors, police offers, or stockbrokers. And if you’ve ever met an attorney, they’re just as busy and stressed out as you are and would surely appreciate recognition for their hard work. Don’t lawyers that help deserve that basic gift?
The legal firm you went through has multiple cases besides yours and is probably always humming along day and night with something. Some lawyers never sleep (or so it seems) and have a multitude of health problems that result from their distressing profession. If you’ve had a satisfactory (or beyond) experience with your legal team, consider giving thanks to them in a tangible way. This could be delivering food to their office, stopping by and thanking them all personally, or promising to write an honest review at the website of their choosing to give them a business boost. Of course, lawyers also rely on word-of-mouth reputation to help get them clients (sometimes, repeat clients) and would surely be grateful to you for recommending them to people in similar situations.