As mentioned in our FAQ, the guidance of a lawyer is not always the best choice for your current situation. However, these are some situations when there is little ambiguity as the necessity of a lawyer.
When to call a lawyer
Anything dealing with arrest. If your issue might involve handcuffs, seek a lawyer immediately. Some of these include DUI, domestic violence, criminal accusations and white collar crime (tax fraud, etc). If you are in one of these situations, you’ll want to find yourself a trusted lawyer to help you handle the case. Do your research, the difference between a good lawyer and a bad one in these situations can mean years in prison.
Injury has occurred. If someone has been hurt and you’re either the victim or the perpetrator, you must get yourself a good lawyer. Some typical examples would be a car accident or someone being injured on your property. Unless your insurance company is hiring a lawyer for you, don’t rely on them. This is your life, and the consequences of their inaction or ineffective action is yours to bare alone.
Death has occurred. Don’t rely on ready-made or universal solutions when it comes to dealing with the death of someone who has property or debts which you may ultimately be liable for. Seek a professional to insure that your estate administration goes through properly. Dealing with the death of a loved one can be an extremely difficult time, having a professional there will insure that the emotional difficulties don’t lead to financial ones.
You are signing an important contract. Are you in a position that requires you to sign a long-term or high investment contract? Whether you’re buying a house or signing a book deal, having a lawyer’s direction can be hugely valuable.
An estate plan is needed. Too often, people rely on packaged estate plan templates or the Internet when designing their Living Trust. This is a terrible idea. Estate plans are hardly ever simple enough to complete using templates or other shortcuts. A good lawyer might cost extra now, but in the end it will benefit your loved ones more than you’ll ever know.
You are getting a Divorce or Legal Separation. When you’re separating from someone (legally) and there are no large sums of money, debt or children involved (or pets for that matter), then this could possibly be handled without a lawyer. If any of the above are not true, the direction of a lawyer can protect you and insure you end up with what you deserve. Having a single lawyer act as a mediator for both parties may be the most economically and logistically simple way to go about the divorce. Sometimes when there is conflict of interests between the lawyer and one party, or simply there is a need for both you and your partner to have representation, then don’t hesitate to find your own advocate.
Okay, you need one. Who do you call?
As is generally the rule of thump with products and services, you get what you pay for. Keep in mind that a cheaper lawyer does not always necessarily save you money. If it takes a lawyer who charges $200/hour 5 hours to complete a job that a lawyer who charges $500/hour to complete in a single hour…well you can do the math. In the legal field, experience is rarely trumped by youth.
The best course of action is to find yourself a lawyer who has dealt with cases like yours for years. Doing so will save the lawyers time, your money and likely result in a better outcome for you anyway.