Looking for a lawyer

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Certified lawyer referral services or your local bar association You can contact your county's lawyer referral service or call your local county bar association which will have a lawyer referral service or other resource help you find a lawyer. Legal aid agencies If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get free or low-cost legal help in non-criminal cases from a legal services program.

This will depend on your income and the nature of your legal problem. Use LawHelpCalifornia. You will also find lawyer referral services, and other free and low-cost services in your county. You can also check the white s of your phone book to look for a legal aid organization located near you. If you have doubts, call your local bar association or lawyer referral service to check. Certified legal specialist directory For some types of cases, you may need a very experienced attorney in a particular area of law. The State Bar keeps a list of attorneys who are certified specialists in particular areas of law.

Looking for a lawyer

Attorneys may advertise as certified specialists only if they are certified directly by the State Bar of California or an organization accredited by the State Bar to certify such attorneys. Search for a State Bar-certified specialist. Paralegals or legal document assistants Paralegals, or legal document assistants, are a good resource for preparing the many forms needed in a family law case and other types of cases. BUT they have not been to law school.

They can only do what you tell them to do. They are not trained to Looking for a lawyer potential problems. Click for more information on legal document assistants. Recommendations Ask your friends, co-workers, and employers if they know any lawyers who have experience with the type of problem you have. If you know any lawyers who practice in other areas of law, ask them if they have any recommendations for lawyers in the area that you need help with.

Business people or professionals like bankers, ministers, doctors, social workers, and teachers are also good sources of referrals. Prepaid legal services plans You may belong to a prepaid group legal service plan through your employer, your union, or your credit union.

In general, most basic plans provide legal advice and consultation by telephone and may Looking for a lawyer include brief office consultations, review of simple legal documents, preparation of a simple will, and short letters written or phone calls made by a lawyer to an adverse party. Other plans may offer more extended services.

Check to see if you belong to a plan. You can also purchase a prepaid legal plan, but make sure you read all their information carefully so you know exactly what services are included with your plan and at what cost. Your regional Better Business Bureau may also be able to provide you with consumer information about particular plans. Advertisements Telephone book Yellow s and newspaper advertisements may provide information about a specific lawyer.

Some lawyers and law firms advertise on the Internet. The same laws governing advertising in print, radio, TV, and other media apply to the Internet. In addition, sometimes lawyers together and advertise their services as a group. Once you decide to hire a lawyer, you need to make sure you hire a lawyer that is right for you and for the type of legal problem you have.

Make sure the lawyer is in good standing with the State Bar. When you meet with a lawyer, you need to ask several questions to make sure you know exactly what the lawyer will do for you and how much it will cost. You will then have to decide for yourself if this is the lawyer for you. Make sure to ask for simpler explanations of anything you do not understand. If you decide you want to hire a lawyer to handle only parts of your case called limited-scope representation, discussed in detail in the next sectionask the lawyer if she or he would be willing to represent you only for certain matters.

If this is your situation, make sure you read our section on limited-scope representation. If the answers are yes, you may want to hire this lawyer. Make sure you understand the agreement before you it.

Looking for a lawyer

If you are not comfortable with any of the terms, do NOT it. And if you cannot work out your disagreement, you may want to find a new lawyer. Lawyers charge for their services in different ways.

Looking for a lawyer

Make sure you are clear about your fee arrangement with your lawyer. Fixed fee also called "standard fee" : A fixed fee is commonly used in routine legal matters. For example, a lawyer may charge all clients the same amount to draw up a simple will or handle an uncontested divorce. Before agreeing to a fixed fee, find out what it does and does not include. You also should find out if any other charges might be added to the bill.

Hourly fee: Some lawyers charge by the hour, and the amount can vary from lawyer to lawyer. Ask the lawyer to estimate the amount of time your case will take, but be prepared that your case may take longer than the lawyer initially expected. Retainer fee: A retainer fee sometimes is like a "down payment" on any legal services that a client will need. This means that the legal fees will be subtracted from the retainer until the retainer is used up. The lawyer would then bill you for any additional time spent on your case or ask you to replace the retainer.

Sometimes, a retainer fee can mean that the lawyer is "on call" to handle the client's legal problems over a period of time. Certain kinds of legal work might be covered by the retainer fee while other legal services would be billed separately to the client. The retainer fees can also be used to guarantee that a lawyer will be available to take a particular case. This could mean that the lawyer would have to turn down other cases in order to remain available.

With this kind of retainer fee agreement, the client would be billed additionally for the legal work that is done. Contingency fee: This kind of fee is often used in accident, personal injury, or other types of cases in which someone is being sued for money.

It means that you will pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the money you receive if you win the case or settle Looking for a lawyer out of court. If you lose, the lawyer does not receive a fee. Whether you win or lose, you will have to pay the court costs and certain other expenses. And, depending on the situation, these charges could be very high. Ask the lawyer for an estimate of these costs.

Looking for a lawyer

This can make a big difference. Statutory fee: The cost of some probate and other legal work is set by law or statute. For certain other legal problems, the court either sets or must approve the fee you will pay. The lawyer will charge you for the costs of your case as well as the fees. You will be responsible for paying these costs even if your case is not successful. Costs can add up quickly. It is a good idea to ask the lawyer for a written estimate of what the costs will be.

Your lawyer may charge you for other costs as well. Make sure you understand all of the costs for which you will be responsible. If you have questions or concerns about your case, talk to the lawyer about them and listen to his or her responses. If you are still not clear about what is going on, many local bar associations have client relations programs that assist clients in communicating effectively with their lawyers.

If you are having serious problems with your lawyer and you have been unable to resolve them by talking with him or her, there are other things you can do. The State Bar's Mandatory Fee Arbitration MFA Programrun through the local bar associations, can help resolve attorney-client fee disputes without having to go to court.

Lawyers must participate Looking for a lawyer such arbitration if a client asks for it. If there is no local program to handle your fee dispute or if a conflict of interest exists with the local program in your case, contact the State Bar's MFA Program. To locate a program in your area, contact your local bar association. If your complaint is about the lawyer acting unethically If you believe Looking for a lawyer lawyer acted unethically or intentionally mishandled your case -- maybe he or she told you that a will was filed for probate when it was not; or maybe the lawyer settled your case without your approval; or maybe you think your lawyer misused or stole your money — you can file a complaint with the State Bar.

The State Bar of California is in charge of complaints against lawyers and lawyer discipline. The Attorney Discipline System takes complaints against lawyers from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints, and prosecutes lawyers when allegations of unethical conduct by them appear to be justified. The website gives you more instructions on filing a complaint, complaint forms, and other information.

You have the right to fire your lawyer at any time. But he or she usually will have the right to payment for any past work already done for you. Also, you have the right to change lawyers at any time, but if you wait until you are close to trial, consider whether this would be good for you and your case. You may not be able to find another lawyer at such a late stage.

And a change can delay your case. This form is required whenever someone changes who is acting as his or her lawyer.

Looking for a lawyer

If a lawyer is representing you, and you now want to represent yourself, you need to complete this form. The Substitution of Attorney-Civil will remove one person as the lawyer in the case and replace that person with someone else you or your new lawyer if you have one. If you are acting as your own attorney and then hire a lawyer, you will also need to fill out this form. Keep in mind that once you file a Substitution of Attorney telling the court that you no longer have a lawyer, you are representing yourself unless you have a new lawyer that you have named on the form.

The lawyer you had is no longer representing you and does not have a duty to help you with your case any longer. You can hire a new lawyer later, or the same lawyer again, but that would require a new agreement with the lawyer, and you or your new lawyer will have to file a new Substitution of Attorney letting the Looking for a lawyer know you are represented again. If you are changing lawyers, substituting out your lawyer for a new one, your new lawyer will most likely fill out and file the Substitution of Attorney with the court. Cancel Print.

Advanced Search. Finding a Lawyer. You may want to hire a lawyer if you have a legal problem and do not know how to solve it. There are several ways to find a lawyer who is right for you: Certified lawyer referral services or your local bar association Legal aid agencies Certified legal specialist directory Paralegals or legal document assistants Recommendations Prepaid legal services plans Advertisements Certified lawyer referral services or your local bar association You can contact your county's lawyer referral service or call your local county bar association which will have a lawyer referral service or other resource help you find a lawyer.

Looking for a lawyer

You can also find a certified lawyer referral service by: Going to LawhelpCalifornia. Hiring a lawyer Often, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer. If you are being sued in civil court or you are facing criminal charges, for example, a lawyer can help you understand your rights, and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A lawyer knows the rules and procedures for arguing the case in court.

And a lawyer can make a big difference in whether or not you present your side of the story to a judge or jury successfully. A lawyer can help you get a divorce, file for bankruptcy, or draw up a will. Or if you have been seriously injured or mistreated, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit.

Some lawyers handle a variety of legal problems; others specialize in certain areas of the law. Some types of cases are so complicated that it is almost impossible for someone who is not a lawyer to handle it on their own -- for example, appeals and medical malpractice cases. Click for more information on several types of cases where lawyers are necessary. Lawyers are also very helpful to prevent legal problems down the line. Preventive legal advice can save you time, trouble, and money by preventing problems before they arise. For example, if you are going to enter into a contract with someone else, having a Looking for a lawyer help draft or review the contract before you it can help you protect yourself in case something goes wrong.

Also, talking to a lawyer before starting a new business can help you choose the best way to set up your business to avoid financial issues later on.

Looking for a lawyer

Some types of cases Looking for a lawyer that there be a lawyer. A party in a lawsuit must generally be represented by a lawyer when the case is outside small claims court AND that party is a corporation, a limited-liability company, or an unincorporated association; is a trustee, probate fiduciary, personal representative, or a guardian ad litem ; or is some other type of fiduciary like a conservator or guardian in certain situations.

Get legal advice if you think you may be in one of these situations to find out for sure whether you can represent yourself or must be represented by a lawyer. Here are a few key questions you should ask a lawyer at your first meeting: What is your experience in this field? Have you handled cases like mine before? When is the last time you handled a case like mine? What steps will be involved in my case? What are the possible outcomes? How long do you expect this case to take? How will you keep me informed as the case progresses?

Will anyone else be working on my case -- associate lawyer, legal assistant, paralegal? If another lawyer will be the one mostly handling your case, ask if you can meet him or her. How do you charge for your time and that of your staff?

Looking for a lawyer

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