It is said that any man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. In a society where the law seems to be more complex every day, it is all the more important to know when you need a lawyer, how they can help you, and how much they can cost.
Here are five situations where you need a lawyer or you will end up in a much worse financial or legal situation.
1. Charged with a crime
I could begin and end this section by posting this famous video on why you should never talk to a police officer without a lawyer present. But there are so many things about criminal law which people do not know – or worse, think they know by watching some TV crime drama. A good criminal lawyer will let you know what rights you have during every stage of the criminal process, will look to your best interests, and will formulate a defense strategy which will see you go free.
You don’t need the ghost of Johnnie Cochran or some expensive lawyer. FindLaw should give you access to a good criminal defense lawyer in the area. It is advised to look around and scout several lawyers before finding one at the right cost (check to see what their retainer is above all else) that who you can trust.
2. Car accidents
But what if the destruction to my car had been more severe, or if I had been injured? What if the other driver refused to admit fault? Then I would need to hire a personal injury attorney. You will need a personal injury attorney to prove that the other person is liable and in the case of a severe accident, a lawyer should be the first person you talk to.
3. Writing a will
Not everyone needs a lawyer to write a will. If you just want to leave all your property to your only child, then you can have a witnessed will written out and things will probably be fine.
But there are many legal traps which an untrained person can fall into when writing a will, especially if you plan to split your property several ways. Even if you think that your will is simple, you should still have a legal expert examine it. Otherwise, your heirs may engage in a long legal battle which can cost more than whatever you left behind for them. A couple hours’ time with a lawyer and maybe a thousand dollars in fees can save them thousands of dollars.
4. Starting a business
Starting a business is not as simple as you might. As the Small Business Administration points out, there are environmental laws, finance laws, employment laws, and so many other laws which any new business needs to keep track of to avoid a lawsuit. Having a lawyer in advance can ensure you are following the proper regulations and prevent a lawsuit or an angry IRS letter.
A good business lawyer will cost somewhere between $350 and $800 per hour, and should be willing to teach you the basics of business law so that you can function without him. But like writing a will, paying a lawyer a fee now can help you avoid more expensive disasters down the road.
5. Employment termination
This is a very tricky field. No one likes losing their job, especially when they think they have been fired unjustly. But most workers these days are at-will, which permits the employer to fire you for almost any reason whatsoever.
But “almost any” is not “any.” If your employer was discriminating against you, or if he retaliated against you for whistle blowing, or if you have a written contract, these can be a few reasons among others to believe you have been terminated wrongly. Under those circumstances, you should contact an employment lawyer who can help you out as soon as possible. The longer you delay, the more time your employer has to prepare for a lawsuit, and the weaker your case will be. Note that unlike other types of law, the intricacies of employment law often means that an employment will charge you for an initial consultation.
Featured photo credit: Tim Louis via flickr.com