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When do you need a lawyer?

Sometimes the need for a lawyer is a no-brainer: when you've been served with a lawsuit, or when you're arrested or charged with a crime. But keep in mind that people hire lawyers for advice and expertise all of the time, in all kinds of situations. While you may be able to get through a legal problem without hiring a lawyer, you should always remember that when you represent yourself, you might have a "fool for a client," as the saying goes.

    

What's At Stake?

    

One of the first things to ask yourself is: "What's at stake?" When your finances or liberties are in serious jeopardy, the obvious answer is to get legal help. An ordinary parking summons is a brush with the law, but you need not consult with an attorney to pay the fine or even to fight it. However, if you've accumulated a number of unpaid parking tickets and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you would probably want to hire a lawyer to help you best resolve the situation, and perhaps save you money or even keep you out of jail.

    

It's also a lot easier to rest easily after consulting with experienced lawyers for important undertakings such as tax and estate planning, drafting wills and trusts, negotiating business deals and even pursuing personal family matters such as adopting children.

    

Considerations Before Hiring a Lawyer

    

It never hurts to talk to a lawyer, and it may be the best thing you can do if you think you have a legal problem that you can't resolve yourself. If you're persistent, you can probably arrange a free consultation with a lawyer who will talk to you on the matter.

       

When Should You Consult a Lawyer?

    

In many situations, it's obvious that you need to act fast. But even if you think you have lots of time to consider your alternatives, deadlines such as sneak up on you and lawyers need time to prepare. So it's always better to start looking for a lawyer sooner than later.

       

What Do You Really Want?

    

This is an easy question to answer if you find yourself a defendant in a civil suit or charged with a crime. In these cases, your goal is to keep your money out of your adversary's pocket or avoid criminal sanctions.

    

In other situations, your objective may be less clear. If you feel your employer unlawfully fired you, you might want to get your job back. If you suffered an injury from a defective product, you might wish to recover money damages. Or you may be faced with a situation where you need to seek an injunction against someone. Think about these things before you hire a lawyer. You must be realistic about your chances of winning and what your case is worth.

    

If you aren't sure what your legal rights are, it might be worth your time and expense to retain a lawyer to evaluate your situation and advise you on alternative courses of action. Even if you end up having to pay a few hundred dollars for to consult with an attorney, it could be a very wise investment that ultimately saves you time and money.