Legal assistance does not come cheap, so the idea of needing a lawyer may have you envisioning money flying out of your pockets. There are many times, however, when obtaining legal representation is the most cost-conscious thing you can do. Determining whether or not you need a lawyer involves a few key elements.
What’s at Stake?
There is an entire spectrum of legal issues between a traffic ticket and a felonious assault. To determine whether or not you need a lawyer, look at what you have at stake. If you got a traffic ticket, then your best bet is likely to pay your fine and be done with it unless you are facing license suspension or skyrocketing insurance rates. If the latter is the case, the money you pay for legal representation may save you much pain and a lot of money in the long run. If you are facing a more complex issue, especially one with potentially serious criminal or financial ramifications, you should consider representation. Look for a law firm that offers a free consultation to help you understand your legal issues and options.
Is Your Matter Criminal or Civil?
If you have a civil matter that does not involve large sums of money, you should first explore small claims court, which is reserved for matters that fall under certain money caps that differ by state. If you use small claims court, the process is usually simpler and won’t require you to hire legal representation. You should be prepared, though, to spend a fair amount of time on research in order to not make mistakes while representing yourself. If the matter is criminal, it is best to obtain representation so they can let you know your rights and defend you as well as possible. It is best to obtain representation even if you are guilty and feel you deserve punishment.
Are Your Emotions Involved?
Emotions and the law rarely mix well. If you are facing a contentious divorce, custody or other highly-emotionally-charged matter, it is best to obtain legal representation. Your lawyer will be able to approach matters with objectivity as well as be able to act as a buffer between you and other involved parties, which can help keep your emotions from getting the best of you and potentially compromising your legal options.
Is the Applicable Law Complex or Specialized?
If your matter involves wrongful termination, workplace discrimination, car accidents or workmen’s compensation, the law is highly specialized, and the parties involved can use others’ ignorance of the law to their advantage. For instance, in a case where you’ve been injured in a car accident where you are not at fault, you shouldn’t even speak to an insurance company representative without representation. Obtaining representation in matters such as these can save you thousands of dollars.
Is a Lawyer Required?
There are some matters, such as bankruptcy, that you can’t pursue without legal representation.
Pursuing legal representation can be nerve-wracking, but applying common sense reasoning to whether or not you need it can help you make the best decision and ensure your rights and money are as protected as possible.