Not every legal matter requires the use of an attorney. Fighting a speeding ticket and going to small claims courts are two examples. However, in many other situations involving a legal dispute, challenge, or deal, you may not wish to chance the risks of going it alone without the advice of an experienced lawyer who can help you out. In fact, while good legal representation may not be cheap, it can help get you out of a number of sticky situations, such as a bad divorce, lost job, or DUI violation.
While each person’s legal situation is different, there are times when you really should hire a lawyer. In fact, failing to work with an attorney in certain instances can lead to broken agreements, lost claims, or even prison time. Below are the top ten reasons to hire an attorney.
1. The Law is Complicated
If you’re not a lawyer you probably have no business acting like one in certain instances. Even experienced lawyers typically do not represent themselves in court. Also, attorneys tend to specialize in one or more legal practice areas, such as criminal defense or tax law.
A solid case can quickly unravel without the help of a trained and emotionally detached attorney. Similarly, failing to hire a lawyer when starting a business, reviewing a contract, or embarking on other endeavors with potential legal ramifications can result in otherwise avoidable pitfalls.
2. Not Having a Lawyer May Cost You More
What’s at stake? A criminal case may determine whether or not you spend time behind bars, while a civil case could hurt you financially. Besides, there are many civil attorneys who don’t actually collect a dime from you unless they win your case. Also, you may be able to claim legal fees as a plaintiff in a civil case, so hiring a lawyer can actually save or make you money.
3. Lawyers Know How to Challenge Evidence
Without the proper legal training, you may not be able to know whether a key piece of evidence against you was improperly obtained or that the testimony of a witness contradicts an earlier statement. And did the crime lab properly handle the evidence every step of the way? Your attorney will find out and possibly have that evidence suppressed.
4. Filing the Wrong Document or Following the Wrong Procedure Could Ruin Your Case
If you’re not an attorney, you may struggle with the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. One late or incorrect filing could derail your case, delay a given legal procedure or worse – have the case thrown out altogether (and not in your favor).
5. They Have Access to the Witnesses and Experts You’ll Need on Your Side
Attorneys depend on an extended network of professionals to help their clients ‘ cases. Most non-attorneys don’t personally know the types of professionals who can help with discovery or challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing party.
6. A Lawyer Can Present Your Strongest Case
Pleading guilty or admitting fault isn’t the only choice, even if there’s evidence pointing directly at you. When you hire a lawyer, they can explain all of your options and can help you avoid potentially severe penalties even before a trial begins.
7. It’s Always Better to Avoid Problems Rather Than Fix Them Later
You may have heard the saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, hiring a lawyer in many instances will help you avoid potential legal headaches down the road. Do you really understand the fine print of that contract you are signing and what it will mean for you down the road? A lawyer will.
8. Lawyers Know How to Negotiate Settlements and Plea Bargains
An experienced lawyer probably has seen cases similar to yours or at least knows enough to make a calculated guess about how it might get resolved at trial. Sometimes a settlement is the best choice, while other times it makes more sense to see your case through to trial. An attorney can also help negotiate a fair settlement with the opposing party.
9. The Other Party Probably Has Legal Representation
Non-attorneys are generally at a disadvantage when squaring off against opposing counsel or doing business with another party that has legal counsel. As explained above, the law is complicated and an attorney representing your adversary (or even a non-adversarial party entering into a legal agreement with you) will take advantage of this inequity.
10. Lawyers Often Provide a Free Consultation
Since many attorneys will meet with you for free during a face-to-face consultation, there is really no harm in talking with one. Not only will a free consultation give you an idea of the type of case you have and its likely outcome, it will help you decide whether you actually need to hire a lawyer.