This really depends on your situation. Generally, you should think about obtaining legal advice regarding:
Starting or terminating a business
Being accused of a crime
When someone sues you
Planning for distribution of your property and/or care of your young children after your death
Writing a will
Appearances, applications or appeals to government agencies
If a problem like one of these faces you, call my office as soon as you can. Many simple problems get more complicated as time passes. When in doubt, talk with me. A brief consultation can help you decide if a lawyer’s assistance is needed.
When I get a lawyer, what can I expect?
In most cases, my representation follows a careful step-by-step process that may include:
Conferring with you, the client to pinpoint the situation and determine what you wish to accomplish
Gathering and analyzing all available facts and information
Interviewing everyone involved with the case
Studying laws and previous decisions that may apply to your situation
Offering advice and preparing contracts or other appropriate documents (such as wills, incorporation papers).
Preparing legal arguments for contested matters, and representing you in any negotiations for settlement and court appearances.
Don't Try To Cut Corners When Facing Crucial Issues in Your Life.
It might be dangerous for you to choose a lawyer purely on an estimate of fees. "Shopping around" for the “cheapest" lawyer may not be the best approach because that lawyer may not be the most qualified to handle the case. You also want to be certain an attorney is doing most of the work, rather than an inexperienced new lawyer or legal secretaries or clerks.
What Should I Do at my First Meeting Concerning Legal Advice?
Be prepared to give a brief explanation of your legal problem < and what ultimate result you would like the lawyer to help you achieve.
Bring copies of any written records that explain your problem.
Write down questions you want the lawyer to answer.
How Do I Insure a Good Lawyer-Client Relationship?
Remember, good legal assistance is not a one-way street. You have to cooperate with my office if you really want to be helped. The attorney-client relationship is confidential except, according to the Rules of Professional Conduct, if it is necessary for the lawyer to disclose information to the proper authorities in order to prevent a client from committing a criminal, illegal or fraudulent act likely to perpetrate a fraud upon a tribunal. Here are some important tips to follow:
Please provide me with an objective statement of all the facts. According to the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer may counsel or assist a client in a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law. However, an attorney is not permitted to counsel or assist in conduct that the lawyer knows is illegal, criminal or fraudulent, or in the preparation of a written instrument containing terms the lawyer knows are expressly prohibited by law.
Don’t look for simple, quick answers to complex questions. Lawyers are justifiably cautious in drawing conclusions or answering questions about complicated legal problems. Attorneys and judges know that cases are rarely "open and shut."
Let the law office know about any new developments in your case.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any matter relevant to your case. Remember, though, I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, marriage counselor or financial advisor.
Work with my office. If you don't understand why something should be done or have doubts about some action recommended, ask questions and get an explanation.
Be patient - Don’t look for instant results. Trust my office and I to follow through on the case but don’t hesitate to ask for progress reports from time to time.
About Legal Fees, What Can I Expect? The time, study, experience and attention your attorney gives your problem all determines the legal fees. I have invested tens of thousands of dollars on such things as education, staff, books, journals, rent, office equipment, and insurance. Consequently, a lawyer must set a charge for his services that is both reasonable and adequate to cover his own investment and expenses.
Because no two legal matters are exactly the same, fees vary widely. Some factors involved are: The amount of time and labor spent on your problem and the complexity of your case. To a lawyer, time is money. Most lawyers keep very careful records of the time they and their staff spend on your case. Many attorneys will charge specific fees for meetings, research, courtroom appearances, telephone conversations, etc. This amount of time your lawyer may be required to spend will vary according to the case involved.
The emergency nature of the case or the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer. If the lawyer has to “drop everything” to handle your matter, the fee may be higher.
Nature and length of the professional relationship with the client. In a matrimonial matter there must be a written retainer agreement.
Whether the fee is fixed or contingent. The results obtained often are considered in setting the fee (except for matters in which contingent fees are prohibited by law and the Rules of Professional Conduct). Of course, unless my office takes your case on a contingent fee basis, we except to be paid, no matter what the outcome. (Results can never be guaranteed.)
If you are suing for compensation for injuries caused by another person’s negligence, my office may be willing to represent you for a contingent fee. Under this arrangement, I will receive no fee if there is no recovery. (However, you must still pay certain costs directly related to your lawsuit.) A contingent fee agreement must be in writing and must state the method by which the fee is determined, including the percentage accruing to the attorney in the event of settlement, trial, or appeal, litigation and other expenses to be deducted before or after the contingent fee matter, I will provide you with a written statement of the outcome of the matter, and if there is recovery showing the remittance to the client and its method of determination. Under this fee arrangement, I must invest my own time, effort and office expenses without advance payment. This plan permits any injured person, regardless of their financial resources, to be represented by my effort in cases of this type.
FREE INFORMATION BOOKLETS FOR CLIENTS AND FRIENDS 1. WHAT TO DO IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT. 2. WILLS - Protecting Loved Ones. 3. MUNICIPAL COURT. 4. PERSONAL INJURY CASES. 5. COOPERATING & WORKING WITH YOUR ATTORNEY.
Please call our office or stop in. We provide speakers to groups and organizations on the above topics free of charge. This publication has been issued to inform and not to advise. It is based on New Jersey law. The statements are general, and individual facts in a given case may alter their application or involve other laws not referred to here. For specific legal advice, contact an attorney.