How to Find the Right Lawyer For You

If you are in need of legal assistance, chances are good you are going to be looking for a great lawyer to help you with your case. Whether you are starting a business, ending a marriage, or looking to open a suit against a business or individual who has wronged you, it is crucial to make sure that you have the right kind of legal help in your corner.

So, how do you know how to choose the best lawyer for your specific legal needs? In fact, choosing legal services and assistance can be very much like choosing any other kind of product. That means, the wise consumer is going to conduct throughout research before they make an informed decision.

Once you secure several lawyer referrals with expertise in the field and practice area that you are needing assistance in, you should make sure to carefully research each candidate.

If you are either on the verge or currently preparing to seek out legal defense or assistance, here are five great steps to start out on the right foot.

First, conduct candidate interviews:

One of the most effective ways to make sure that you are going to get the most of your relationship with your lawyer is conduct through interviews will all potential candidates. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation free of charge. If they don’t offer that, you may want to consider that a sign that they are not the right practice for you.

If they do, here are some questions to consider asking them during your free consultation.

  • What are their fees and how are they structured?
  • Do they carry malpractice insurance and what is the cost if they do?
  • Who else would be working on your case and what extra prices apply?
  • Do they outsource any of their legal tasks?
  • What additional costs can you expect to face?
  • How often will you be billed?
  • Can they provide references from other clients who had similar legal needs?
  • Do they have a written fee agreement or representation agreement?
  • How will they inform you of developments in your case?
  • What experience does the lawyer have in your type of legal matter?
  • How long have they been in practice?
  • What percentage of their caseload is in a similar type of legal problem that you are facing?
  • What is their track record?
  • Do they have any special skills or certifications than apply?

Once you have the answer to these questions, you will surely be closer to being able to make your decision about whether or not a specific attorney or practice is right for you. That being said, it is important to remember that a fee does not necessarily equate to a more qualified attorney. That being said, a rock-bottom fee could certainly indicate an attorney with a bad reputation or lack of experience.

After you are done conducting interviews with any and all prospective attorneys, here are some questions that you can ask yourself to better help you decide which one is right for you.

  • Are the lawyer’s experience and legal background well matched to your legal needs?
  • Did the lawyer or legal assistance you met with provide prompt and courteous responses to your questions?
  • Are they someone with whom you would be comfortable and happy to work with?
  • Are you confident that they have the skills and experience that you need to handle your legal case?
  • Are you comfortable with how their fees and billing is structured and are you confident that you will be able to afford their services over an extended period of time?
  • Are you comfortable with the terms of the fee agreement or representation agreement?

Ask Other Attorneys

One great way to find a great lawyer, is to ask other lawyers what they think. The legal world is a fairly tight-knit community and chances are good any lawyer you know will have either heard of the lawyer or firm you are considering working with, or will be able to quickly spot whether or not they are worth working with after taking a look at a few easily accessible indicators such as their company website.

Factors that attorneys may be able to shine a light on include ethics, competence, practice habits, and reputation. If you are deciding between two or more lawyers, this could help be a deciding factor.

Conduct a Background Check

Befoyre you sign on the dotted line and decide to hire a lawyer, contact a disciplinary agency in your state to make sure that they are in good standing.

You should always check references, especially if you located the attorney through the internet. You can also check a lawyer’s peer review ratings online.

These peer review ratings are valuable because they offer an objective insight into how a given lawyer has performed and behaved in the past.

Take a Tour of the Layer’s Law Office

Believe if or not you can tell a lot about an attorney from their law office. Request a bref tour of their office beyond the conference room that you met. Look ot for whether or not the office is neat and orderly. Take a look at the kind of support staff they employ. Keeping in minds factos such as whether or not they are friendly and helpful.

Red flags to look out for include mass disarray, unhappy staff, and many empty offices.

Hiring a lawyer can be an intimidating, but incredibly important aspect of life. It’s a way to take care of yourself and make sure that you are covered when a potential legal situation comes into your life.

Hiring a lawyer, however, is half the battle. You need to be sure that you are hiring the right lawyer for the job. By following these steps, chances are good you will be making sure that you are doing all you can to work with the very best.

The very best typically render the very best results, so it is really your duty to yourself to make sure you are prepared as possible.

Good luck!

How to Get Legal Help When You Can’t Afford a Lawyer

When you hire an attorney, it’s hard to avoid letting your finances get out of hand.

If you are being sued by someone, an ex-spouse, a former business partner, or some other kind of adversary, you will very likely need a lawyer to protect you and your assets.

If you are dealing with a criminal case, the court will appoint you a lawyer if you cannot afford to pay for a private attorney. If you are dealing with a civil case, chances are good you are going to get a little bit creative.

Look to Legal Aid Societies

Legal aid societies are non profit organizations found all over the country that provide free legal service to low-income people.

While this is definitely an option worth looking into, the problem for many households is that they make too much money to qualify for this kind of legal help.

Even if you are low income, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily get legal aid.

According to a report from 2017, 86 percent of civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help in the previous year.

Visit your local law school

If you don’t want to spend the money to get a lawyer, consider consulting a law student for advice.

While students obviously can’t practice law on their own, several states do allow students to practice law with the advisement of a faculty member.

Student practice rules vary by state, so what you are allowed to do depends on where you live.

Many law school clinics represent low-income individuals too, and so once again, you may make too much money to qualify. Still, that’s not always the case.

Contact Your County or State Bar Association

Once you find someone who is willing to wok with you, ask if there are any ongoing projects for pro bono legal help or reduced fee help.

These rules also also vary depending on what state you are operating in and much of this also depends on how active the state and local bar is in reaching out to these kinds of clients.

Consider Small Claims Court

This is definitely not an option of everyone, for example you cannot go to small claims court if you are looking to figure out your financial situation after a divorce. However, if the stakes are low when someone is trying to get money from you or you are trying to get money from someone, and it isn’t worth taking on legal fees, you might consider small claims court.

Your home state will impact who high the financial stakes are.

Try Pricing Attorneys

You may actually find that the fees are not as bad as you think they are. On top of that, an attorney might actually give you a discount.

You could also get lucky and find a lawyer that is willing to offer you legal assistant and counsel pro bono. That’s legal jargon for free!

Other lawyers may be willing to take on your case with the contingency that you won’t pay money if you lose, but if you win they will pay money.

It is important to be very careful when you are picking a lawyer, however. You want to make sure that you are choosing to work with a reputably attorney and make sure that the terms and rate is agreed upon before they take your case.

Also, don’t be surprised if a given attorney you reach out to turns you down. It is definitely risky for lawyers to take on cases on contingency, and they need to be confident that a judge and jury will side with you and that there’s going to be something sizable awarded to you.

Still, it’s worth shopping around talking t some attorneys. Some lawyers will offer intro meetings that are free and if you cannot afford their services, they may be willing to point you in the direction of someone who is.

Represent Yourself in Court

While no legal professional will recommend that you decide to represent yourself in court, it is good to know that it is an option.

Still, you can actually end up hurting yourself quite a bit by representing yourself. Lawyers obviously have experience and expertise that you very likely do not possess. And as the popular saying goes, “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”

It’s harsh, but it’s usually true.

If you are going to represent yourself in court, however, there are some tips that you are going to want to brush up on.

Learn the laws and rules that apply to your case

Even though you’re not a lawyer, you are still going to be required to know and follow nearly all the same laws.

Understanding the law that applies to your case can help you understand what it is that you need to prove and can allow you to focus on the relevant issues at hand.

Make sure all your written submissions are complete and timely

One of the things lawyers do most often is take care of paperwork. If you are acting as your own attorney, you are going to have to take care of those responsibilities on your own.

During the course of your case, the main way you will convey your arguments, objections, and any other facts and information in your case, both to the other side and to the court, is by preparing and filing written documents.  If you are using preprinted forms, make sure you have provided all of the required information in the correct blanks and checked all the appropriate boxes.  If you are preparing your own documents from scratch, make sure they comply with the court’s rules regarding written submissions.

Attend all hearings and get to court early

Your court hearing is not an appointment that you reschedule if you miss it. If you need to change your court date for some reason, you will need to file legal documents requesting a different court date or get the other side to agree to the change.

If you miss your court date or are late, it is possible that the court will rule against you. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to court, consider traffic, weather, parking, and more.

Characteristics to Look for When Choosing a Lawyer

Find the right lawyer can be tough and it can be hard to make a judgement if you are in quick need.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the lawyer you are using to look over your will is probably not the same lawyer you’d use to file a lawsuit.

No single lawyer is right or every case, but there are some important characteristics that you’ll want to look out for when making your decision of what lawyer you want to work with.


Becoming a truly successful lawyer can take years and while many new lawyers are incredibly bright and determined and will go on to have fantastic careers, it is often best to seek out lawyers with years of experience in a given task.

Experience is obviously the best teacher and if you want a lawyer who is going to be able to avoid pitfalls, see opportunities when they present themselves, and give you the best opportunity to be successful in your legal venture, you are going to want to find one with years of it.

Here are some of the skills that lawyers gain with time and experience:

  • Negotiating with other seasoned lawyers or legal teams
  • Picking a great jury
  • Valuing a case for settlement
  • Cross examination
  • Developing effective arguments
  • Communicating with judges

As a lawyer gains experience, they learn how to win. They also learn the importance of a sympathetic jury, and know when to take or offer a settlement.

Basically, a lawyer acts as both your legal representation and legal advisor. You want to know that the person who is advising you on what legal course to take has been there before!


There’s always been the reputation that lawyers get of being sleazy, shady, dishonest, and more. The truth is, most lawyers have great integrity and are simply trying to do the best job they can with the task at hand.

Good lawyers can be strong and have bullet proof negotiating tactics without being deceitful.

A great lawyer knows their reputation is everything and if their clients can’t trust them, then no one can. Still, it is important to keep integrity in mind when you are searching for the right lawyer.

If you sense any red flags, it is probably best to go another way.


As previously mentioned, a lawyer’s reputation is everything to their business.

Lawyers are judged not only by their clients, but also by judges, peers, and more. Overtime, a lawyer will have a reputation that is easily found.

One way to learn about a great lawyer is to ask friends and family members about lawyers they have used in the past. Ask about how they felt the lawyer managed their case, ask if they were happy with the communication and the result.

If you have a lawyer that you prefer to work with but they do not have expertise in the matter at hand, ask them if they know any lawyers working in that aspect of the law.


A lot of lawyers see their job as just that – a job. Ideally, their interest in helping you goes a bit deeper than that.

During an initial meeting a lawyer, make sure that they ask a lot of questions to learn about your case. Make sure that they are really listening to you and what to fully understand your concerns.

Good lawyers will understand and empathize with you situation. If a case goes to trial, you will want a lawyer that is personally invested in helping you get the justice you deserve. They’ll only be interested in that way if they truly understand where you are coming from and what you want and deserve out of your case.


There is nothing wrong with having a do-it-all lawyer take a look at simpler tasks, but if you have a specific case or suit on the horizon, you are going to want to find a lawyer that is specifically primed for that kind of work.

When a case demands a greater level of expertise, general practice lawyers will typically encourage you to find an attorney that has a more specific line of expertise.

That more specific expertise means they will likely understand the ins and outs of your case far better. Thats because if they’re spending time becoming an expert on specific tasks, they’re going to have a lot more time to learn than general attorneys who pride themselves on knowing about law in a more general sense.

Lawyers with a limited practice typically belong to professional associations that are designed to deal with specific fields of law. If you have a need for a lawyer with specific expertise, it might serve you best to start your search within these professional associations.


This might seem like a secondary concern, but if you are going to spending a lot of time with your lawyer, you’re going to want to make sure that you actually get along.

Clients and lawyers need to be able to communicate with one another often and in a positive and productive way. They need to respect each other and a lawyer needs to really understand their client’s goals and aspirations.

Communications, respect, and understanding are all crucial aspects to the rapport you build with your lawyer.

If you able to work productively with them and they help you get what you need out of your case or suit, chances are good their reputation will only improve and you will know where to look next time you need a lawyer.

It’s a win-win and can be an incredibly mutually beneficial relationship.

Good luck!

Understanding Why Bribing Colleges to Get Your Child in Is Illegal

Last week, several American CEOs and celebrities were embroiled in a bribing scheme that allowed them to get into some prestigious and some not-so-prestigious universities and colleges around the country.

It all took place last Tuesday, when federal prosecutors in Boston charged 33 parents and 13 collegiate coaches with engaging in a long-running scheme to get children into colleges by lying to and cheating the admissions process.

Some of the most famous names caught up in the case include actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, as well as partner at the private equity firm TPG, William E. McGlashan Jr., co-chairman of the law firm Wilikie Farr & Gallagher, Gordon Caplan, and retired CEO of Pimco Doug Hodge.

While it’s obviously morally questionable for the rich and famous to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get their offspring into the school of their choice, buy why exactly is It a federal crime?

To put it simply, the charges that were filed in the cases include mail and wire fraud statutes which means that these ill-advised parents could potentially be facing charges that come with 20-year sentences in prison.

Interestingly, it’s possible that these parents could have avoided any criminal punishment if they were more well-versed in the 2010 Supreme Court appeal of former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, which limited the honest-services fraud law. But unfortunately for them they were not, meaning they did not know that bribes and kickbacks are still very much illegal. If they haven’t already, they’ll all want to lawyer up real soon.

Perhaps the one silver lining for the families who are named in the case is that while the university coaches or employees who were taking payment in exchange for improperly admitting students could be convicted as federal criminals, the parents charged in the case, the ones who paid the money, have only be listed as guilty for ascent as accomplices in the scheme.

That’s probably good news for them, but less good news for other Americans who will likely once again see the upper class get off the hook for breaking the law.

But did the parents even care that they were breaking the law? According to some of the quotes that were obtained through wiretap, it seems unlikely.

One parent charged in the case named Jane Buckingham was quoted telling an informant the she knew “this is craziness; I know it is. And then I need you to get him into U.S.C., and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.” Buckingham was discovered to have paid $50,000 to have someone else take the standardized test known as the ACT in place of her son.

Mr. Caplan, the aforementioned CEO of Pimco was quoted telling an informant in the case, “I’m not worried about the moral issue here. I’m worried about the- if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

So why commit these crimes when the reason for it seems so trivial? Why pay thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to get your child into a specific university when it’s a crime, especially when the kid could simply get into a less prestigious university yon their own?

A parent’s love is an obvious and fairly forgiving answer. A more pragmatic answer is that most white-collar crime similar to this one do not have a clear victim. Because there is no clear victim, it seems likely that those involved can easily convince themselves that they are doing nothing wrong.

While this crime cannot really be considered a white-collar crime, paying money to get a child into a prestigious university is not so different. In both cases there is no easily identifiable individual victim. Even though deserving children were obviously robbed of their admission to a given university in place of a child who had won the genetic lottery in terms of being born to wealthy parents, it’s nothing like looking at a victim of abuse, or robbery, or similar crime.

But it has already happened. The parents involved have been named and many of them have been publicly chastised, or even removed (though maybe temporarily) from their positions. It goes without saying that the coaches and university staff involved have also been removed.

In the case of Loughlin and Huffman, one former Oakland School Teacher named Jennifer Kay Toy has filed a $500 billion class action lawsuit claiming that “legitimate applicants to colleges were denied access due to illegal activities.” In the lawsuit, Toy sad her son Joshua was not admitted to several universities where the cheating scandal took place, despite having a 4.2 GPA.

The one interesting question is what happens to the children who benefited from the bribes. In some cases the students were likely very aware of the deal. In others, it appeared as though the students were just as ignorant to the reason behind their admission as their fellow classmates.

While a number of implicated universities have already claimed that any incoming students who benefited from system will be denied, it is harder to remove students from their already established student body.

The truth is that this situation is likely far from over. While the coaches and university staff implicated will very likely face some potentially seriously jail time, it also seems quite likely that the very same system that got their children into university will keep this rich and famous parents out of jail.

Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to see how the American judicial system chooses to go forward. Whether they will choose to make these parents and former university staff an example, or if they simply give them a slap on the wrist as is customary for many white-collar criminals, will likely have a role in dictating how similar situations are dealt with in the future.

Can You Be Fined For Jaywalking in Australia?

If you get around town through the power of your own two feet, you might think you are safe from any type of traffic violations and subsequent crimes.

When there you are tasked with crossing an empty street, you might think that you are free to cross with not a care in the world, but the truth is quite different.

Even when no vehicles are on the road, if you are caught crossing the street at an undesignated area, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty fine.

In recent years, police crackdowns on jaywalking in high-risk areas have seen thousands of Australian pedestrians receive fines up to $70 on the spot. The majority of fines have taken place in Sydney and Melbourne and the aim of the increased fines has been to try to reduce the occurrences of pedestrian deaths and injuries.

So what is and what is not considered a jaywalking pedestrian offense in Australia? Keep reading to find out.

Pedestrian deaths in Australia

If you think a fine is a bit drastic, you might want to learn a bit about the statistics related to pedestrian deaths in Australia.

Based on a study by the Government of South Australia, 1 in 7 road deaths from 2012 to 2016 involved a pedestrian.

In addition to fatalities during that span of time, there is an average of 68 pedestrians who are seriously injured and 241 pedestrians who received minor injures on South Australian roads.

In the following two years, pedestrian deaths increased all over the continent.

10 pedestrian deaths in 2017 in Victoria increased to 12 in 2018. 6 deaths in Queensland nearly doubled to 11. 17 deaths in 2017 in New South Wales grew to 29 in 2018.

From these numbers alone it is clear that increased regulations could certainly help to reduce the risk of pedestrian death and injury due to careless jaywalking.

The laws of jaywalking

In truth, there is not a specific jaywalking offence in Australian law. Instead, it is simply the most common term to describe a pedestrian offence that takes place when a pedestrian crosses a road illegally.

Pedestrian laws and related fines vary depending on the state or territory in which an offense takes place. Related fines also vary by council area.

Much like other jaywalking laws wherever they exist, the rules are typically not strictly enforced. That is especially true when compared to other traffic violations such as speeding fines and red light cameras.

More often than not, for a pedestrian to receive a traffic infraction, they will have to be seen clearly disregarding traffic laws and road rules as well as recklessly putting themselves or nearby drivers in danger.

What behavior can earn you a fine?

If you are regularly crossing the streets on your way to work, you may be wondering what type of behavior could earn you a costly fine.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • You cross the road by ignoring red or “stop” pedestrian lights
  • Your cross the road diagonally where you are not permitted to do so by the traffic laws
  • You cross the road on a green light
  • You don’t use the striped crossing within 20 metres of your location
  • You walk in the middle of a breakdown lane

If there are no pedestrian signs, lights, crossings, or signals where you are, it is your duty as a pedestrian to take the shortest and safest route to cross the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is actually not a legal offence to cross the road while using your phone, listening to music, or text on your phone when you are crossing the road unless it is possible for police to prove that you caused an accident or traffic hazard by doing so.

One nice thing if you do decide to take the risk and jaywalk is that there is no legal penalty for jaywalking.

In conclusion

In the end, it is important to remember that these rules are not only enforced to keep you safe, but to keep the drivers on the road safe as well.

It’s all about public safety and it’s important to remember that the next time you consider putting yourself or other drivers in danger by crossing the street.

So, the next time you are thinking about outrunning traffic and making a fast dash across the road, think about what your actions could cause to your own safety and you bank account!

The Pros and Cons of Dating a Lawyer

If you are looking for love, whether or not a lawyer is the right match for you might depend on your preferences. The truth is, while all lawyers are different, they do tend to share some pretty strong characteristics that can either rub your the right or very wrong way.

Lawyers have to be smart, determined, and if they’re a trial lawyer they’ll also have to be silver-tongued to boot.

Sure, there are differences, but on the whole, here are some pros and cons to be aware of if you’re thinking about dating a lawyer.

The Pros

They’re determined and devoted

One of the great things about attorneys is that they are typically quite steadfast and quite loyal. Their profession requires them to be upfront and honest. They’re not known for sugarcoating things and they’re not known for playing games. They’re reliable partners.

They can be great at giving advice

Because lawyers are essentially trained to give legal advice, they can extend the same kind of analytical thinking to their private life. They’re able to pick up on minute details and can help you come to answers that you might otherwise not be aware of.

They have incredible wardrobes

This is a bit shallow, but hey everyone can be shallow everyone now and then. The truth is, attorneys have to drive to the nines when they are on the job and also have to present themselves well when in public. Thanks to that (and thanks to the nice paycheck that comes with a lot of legal professions), you can expect your lawyerly partner to always be dressed with the best.

The know how to compromise

A lot of times, a job of a lawyer is not to win outright in the court room, but to come to some kind of agreement of settlement before a case goes to court. They can use that skill set in their personal life as well, managing to come to a compromise in their personal relationships just like they do in their work.

They’re great at communicating

Part of the job is making speeches in front of large group – sometimes very powerful – people. They have to be able to argue points of views with people’s lives and money on the line.

That kind of skill could help pay huge dividends when you and your partner are working to come to a conclusion in your private lives.

They work hard

Simply to get accepted into law school requires years of incredibly hard work. After that, it’s no cake walk to be a successful, practicing lawyer either. It all takes work, and if you are with a lawyer, it won’t take long for you to learn just how hard they work.

They’re smart

This fact goes hand-in-hand with how hard lawyers work. If you find intelligence a total turn on, a lawyer is a great person to seek out. Members of the bar are some of the smartest people in the workforce.

They make a lot of money

Again, this one might seem a little shallow, but hey – money is important! No matter what you’re income is, if you end up with a lawyer, you can rest assured that they’ll be bringing home the bacon.

The Cons

No matter how great lawyers can be, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. There are some definite cons of dating a lawyer as well. Here are some of the major negatives you’ll want to consider if you’re serious about shacking up with an attorney.

You’re going to need to match them when it comes to intelligence

Lawyers typically need to be matched when it comes to intelligence and wit when choosing partners. They want to be engaged and feel challenged at work and at home. In a romantic partnership, they can get bored of people who are unable to hold an intellectual or logical conversation.

They log incredibly long hours

Young aspiring partners in a law firm work mornings, days, evenings, nights, weekends, and everything in between. Once they’ve made partner, things tends to calm down a bit in terms of day-to-day tasks but they’re also expected to take on more of a leadership role and have more responsibility.

That means that they’ll be logging serious hours in the office. Even when they’re home, they often have to work before and after dinner to get their job done. To be successful, they will need your support and understanding to deliver the results that are expected of them and continue to deliver their clients the kind of high quality work that is expected of them.

They’re human lie detectors

Hopefully this isn’t an issue for you, but lawyers can see right through you and any lie they try to tell you. Knowing when a person is telling a lie is an industry skill and if you lie even once, you could risk breaking trust with your lawyer lover forever.

They may be overly analytical and risk averse

If you’re looking for a partner who will go sky diving with you or join in on swimming with sharks, you may want to look for a partner who is not an attorney. They ten to heavily analyze and dissect things. That might make them apprehensive to take risk or get involved in something that they aren’t able to full understand before taking part in.

They may take time to trust you

Lawyers tend to always be wary of a new person of their intents at first. In order to fully trust someone, they need sufficient grounds to be able to trust them. When getting involved in a lawyer, it is always wise to match them when it comes to honesty and being upfront. Not only will they feel more comfortable with you if you are totally honest, that kind of transparency is the best way to start a new relationship with anyone.

Paralegal vs Lawyer – What’s the Difference?

If you are dealing with some legal issues, you will very likely quickly find out that lawyers charge quite the hourly rate.

In fact, in Australia, the hourly rate in most urban areas is between $200 and $400. That’s no laughing matter!

Given that hefty fee, you may be wondering if a paralegal could take care of the tasks you need done.

So what are the differences between attorneys and paralegals?

Keep reading to find out!

The differences between paralegal vs lawyer

To put it simply, the biggest differences between paralegal versus lawyer is the education necessary and the licensing invovled. To be an attorney, one must attend and complete a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Law (LLB). After that you have to complete practical legal training, gain admission to a legal practice, and earn your practising certificate.

On top of that, attorneys are required to undergo stringent morality examis, pay annual fees, participate in ongoing legal education requirements, abide by a strict ethical standard, and much more.

When it comes to paralegals, it is not as formalized and the process is far less strict.

The first step to becoming a paralegal is to undergo some form of formal education – in fact a lot of universities and even community colleges offer training in how to become a paralegal. It is becoming increasingly popular for employers to require paralegals to possess a four–year degree or bachelor’s degree.

Paralegals are essentially able to research and draft the majority of legal documents and often assist attorneys with the day-to-day operations of a law firm. That includes scheduling hearings, interacting with clients, and keeping case files and evidence in order.

While paralegals are not allow to offer legal advice to clients and cannot independently prepare legal documents that have not been approved by an attorney, they can get the ball rolling on getting you what you need to be on top of.

What is an independent paralegal?

When it comes to the question of paralegal vs lawyer, it is important to know that most paralegals work directly for lawyers. There are, however, independent paralegals that you can hire for a fraction of the price that lawyers charge hourly.

An independent paralegal, which is also often referred to as a freelance professional, is a non-attorney legal professional who can provide different types of legal document services to patrons for a fee without be under the supervision of an attorney.

While this can be all you need in some cases, it is important to know what these independent paralegals can and cannot do.

Since the paralegal is not working directly under an attorney, there are some strict limitations on what they are lawfully allowed to do.

For example, they are not able to practice law but they can help you with less demanding tasks that do not require a need for legal advice – as only lawyers can do that.

While providing legal advice is not against the law, it is important that a paralegal is careful when it comes to how their patron takes and utilizes the legal advice.

What services are they allowed to provide?

If you are interested in hiring a paralegal, you have to be very careful to be sure that a paralegal can actually benefit you.

In order for your need to qualify as something a paralegal can actually help you.

Essentially, in order for a paralegal to serve a purpose without the need of an attorney, you need to already know what you want when it comes to your legal matter and all you need for someone to locate, retrieve, and fill out the necessary legal forms.

Other proceedings that the paralegal may be able to help you with include matters such as estate planning, probate filings, powers of attorney, bankruptcy petitions, straightforward uncontested divorce forms.

Other tasks that paralegals can complete include:

  • Case planning, development, and management
  • Legal research, fact gathers and information retrieval
  • Drafting correspondence
  • Drafting pleasings, document responses and discoveries
  • Contacting and conferencing clients
  • Analyzing and summarizing documents
  • Fact checking
  • Preparing for and assisting at trial
  • Locating and interviewing witnesses

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you want to hire a paralegal for any basic legal matters that you need but do not require advice in those matters, be sure that you choose the right person for the job.

According to the National Federation of Paralegal Association, consumers should choose a professional who has no less than a paralegal certificate when they want someone other than a lawyer to perform legal and law-related tasks. This certificate at least proves that the professional that you are interested in working with is both trained in and knowledgeable about the law and related procedures.

In short, the choice to hire a paralegal and forgo hiring an attorney can absolutely be a smart one as long as you know what you need them for and as long as you do the research ne cessary to succeed.

How Josef Legal Is Increasing Access to Justice For Australians

In a lot of cases, the amount of legal knowledge and legal defense you get will help you get the outcome you want no matter the dispute.

Unfortunately, legal advice can come with quite the price tag. That’w where the new chatbot Josef Legal comes in.

Josef Legal works by connecting lawyers with potential clients who have questions and concerns. It’s part of what makes the new age of technology so exciting for people across all industries.

Earlier this week, the BucketOrange legal blog sat down with Josef Legal co-founder Sam Flynn to talk about what this new chatbot brings to the legal table.

When asked how it works, Flynn was clear and concise.

“On our no-coding-required platform, legal organisations can build and launch their own chatbots without the need for expensive developers,” he said. “These chatbots can help people resolve a legal problem, including by preparing a personalised document for them (such as a letter or agreement). Because all of these interactions are automated, it allows legal organisations to provide their services at scale.”

Flynn and his partners came up with the idea for Josef Legal when they were asked to find a way to use new technology to increase access to those with justice issues. It wasn’t long before the solution to that problem became a chatbot that connects those with knowledge to those who need it.

How many Australians need legal assistance? According to research, nearly 9 million, but under half of them actually end up seeking legal counsel due to the price.

And it’s not just helpful for those in need of legal assistance. As Josef Legal’s site expresses, it’s an opportunity for lawyers as well.

“But legal technology doesn’t just empower us to bridge the access to justice gap, it is also an unprecedented opportunity for the legal industry to modernise,” it reads. “This allows lawyers to unlock value in untapped markets, streamline their organisations and prepare for a changing industry.

“That is why Josef works with a variety of teams across the US, Europe and Australia, including community legal centres, government, plaintiff and commercial firms and in-house legal teams.”

Overall though, Josef Legal is meant to help the clients first.

“Josef’s utility is to allow legal organisations to automate and scale legal services, streamline their organisations and connect with potential and current clients,” Flynn said.

“For community legal centres, this allows them to help as many people as possible, particularly in the face of a disconnect between increasing demand and decreasing funding. For law firms, this allows them to help more people while also letting them access a huge, unaddressed market, which in the US alone is valued at USD$50B.”

Basically, the more potential clients that lawyers can reach, the more help those who would have otherwise not reached out to lawyers are getting. It also allows firms to potentially charge less if they do begin working with clients they were paired with on Josef Legal because they are spending less time and money to find the clients they would like to represent.

As Flynn expressed, this chatbot has been made in the hopes that it will not only help those in need of legal counsel, but lawyers who are looking to bolster their client roster and tapped untapped markets as well.

So far, the response from those in the legal industry has been “extraordinary,” according to Flynn.

The early success of Josef Legal has surprised some, according to Flynn due to the fact that the legal industry is known to be an incredibly traditional one world wide. But it is impossible to deny ingenious innovation.

For Flynn and his partners, their success didn’t come as a shock. For them, the need for the legal industry to modernize and utilize technology the right way has been clear for years.

Thanks to their early success, those at Josef Legal are already looking towards their next steps.

“In the long-term, we want to change the way that legal services are provided to ensure that people get help whenever and wherever they need it,” Flynn said. “We want to get to the stage where people who have a legal problem seek legal assistance, just like people who have a health problem see a doctor.”

Perhaps the best aspect of the chatbot is that is is flexible based on the needs of the potential client and desires of the firm they’re put in contact with.

Not only can the counsel be free, as it was originally intended to be, there are also ways for firms to charge their clients, making it a multi-tiered and multi-functional chatbot.

It’s pretty incredible how technology has changed the way people work, but until now lawyers have behaved the same for years.

With the advent of companies like Josef Legal, it seems the legal profession is finally starting to catch up.

It will be fascinating where this and other tech-dependent legal companies go from here.

How to think like a lawyer

Sometimes in life you’re going to need a lawyer, but no matter why situation you’re dealing with, it’s never a bad idea to think like a lawyer.

Thinking like a lawyer comes down to a few things. Coming to conclusions thanks to reasoning as opposed to emotion, exercising cool logic, problem-solving skills, and precise analysis.

It’s something that many of us wish we could do. Whether we are having a heated exchange with a business partner, a spouse, a friend, or a colleague, it can be easy to let emotions take over. But that is not the way. If you’ve ever gotten in an emotional argument with a personal relation you know that things can quickly spiral out of control.

The truth is, it’s the kind of cold, calculated mental weaponry that can protect you from unhelpful, inflammatory emotions in an argument.

It might sound like an impossible task, but it really isn’t.

The ability to use legal reasoning in everyday life is not a skill reserved only to those who earn a law degree. Like learning a new skill or a new language, thinking like a lawyer is a technique that can be developed and learned with time.

A word of warning – it takes time, practice, patiences, and sometimes a willingness to sound a bit smug or pretentious. But if it takes getting what you want, it can all be quite worth it.

Here are some good ways to get started on your journey.

Become a smooth word operator

Lawyers are competitive people, they want to win, and sometimes winning an argument comes down to simply sounding smarter than the person on the other side. Sometimes, all that means is using big words and thinly veiled jabs.

This is a strategy used by many lawyers to gain an advantage when competing with colleagues and competitors.

Still, if you want to use the trial-lawyer technique of speaking with a silver tongue, you’re going to have to actually brush up on some grammar and vocabulary.

Look through the dictionary and thesaurus, spend time reading great works of fiction and non-fiction. These are great places to start and great ways to not only gain an upper-hand in conversation, but also become a smarter person.

Have a plan for every scenario

One of the biggest aspects of thinking like a lawyer is preparing for things that may or may not come to pass. If you know that a conversation or situation is on the horizon, it is your job to plan and predict the future. This means you will likely have to do risk assessments before making a big decision. You will have to consider all your options, all possible potentialities, and how your options might change depending on what does come to occur.

Like a game of checkers or chess, taking time to methodically plan out your potential future moves based on the moves your opponent is likely to take. The habit of thinking before acting is a smart thing to adopt in nearly all phases of life. It’s part of why lawyers have a reputation of being risk-averse and incredibly methodical.

While this can be quite a lot of hard work, the benefits are incredible. Thinking into the future and thinking about what may come to pass means that you will likely never be surprised by unforeseen negative outcomes of your decisions in personal or professional contexts.

Before taking a course of action, spend some time on your own or with your advisors considering what could potentially go right and what could go wrong.

If you come across something in a discussion that you did not expect, there is also nothing wrong with taking some personal time to yourself during the conversation. Think before you answer a question, and never feel as though you need to have all the answers immediately.

Problem solve and analyze it all

Analytical skills are at the core of the ways lawyers solve nearly all problems and issues.

Analytical thinking allows you to visualize, articulate, conceptualize, and solve simple and complex problems by making educated decisions and taking calculated risks based on available information.

It is equally important to try to not get bogged down in irrelevant details but focus on the most relevant and critical information. In thinking like a lawyer, you will look for the material facts and evidence to support your case. Then, look for a conclusion you can come to given the facts available to you and available to your opponents.

Keep it objective

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you are engaging in an oppositional situation.

Leave your emotions at the door, lawyers are masters at it, and you should be too. Submitting to your feelings leave you vulnerable to making mistakes, it clouds your judgement and prevents you from making the best decision in the circumstances.

The ability to tease the emotions out of every situating, including inflamed personal conflicts, is one of the many reasons why lawyers are often seen as non-feeling and robotic.

In the end, it is important to remember that lawyers have not been told some secret truth of the universe to get what they want. They’ve just been given a certain set of skills to get the upper hand in discussions and disagreements.

Using skills similar to the ones you have just read about can give you a similar upper hand. So, the next time you are facing a confrontational situation with a business partner, spouse, friend, or more, considering utilizing some of these methods to start thinking like a lawyer.

Good luck!

The Most Influential Court Cases in Australian History

Australia has only been an independent nation for just over 100 years, and in that time there have been some incredibly influential and historic legal cases that have gone on the have pervasive impacts on the law of the land.

Here is a list of some of the most influential court cases in the last half century.

Chamberlain v the Queen – 1948

One of the most well-known murder trial in Australian history, Chamberlain v the Queen is regularly mentioned when discussing a miscarriage of justice in Australia.

The trial itself related to the death of a nine-week-old baby named Azaria Chamberlain during a family camping trip in the Northern Territory.

While the prosecution claims that she had been murdered by her own mother Lindy Chamberlain, she claimed that Azaria was taken by a dingo.

Finally, it was found that Lindy had in fact been telling the truth. It wasn’t until 1986, however, that she was released from prion and acquitted on the charges of murder.

Ruddock v Vadarlis – 2001

This immigration case involved the Norwegian cargo vessel MV Tampa, which was denied entry to Australia after it recused 438 asylum seekers who had been stranded on a sinking boat. The controversy began when the captain of the MV Tampa declared a state of emergency when it entered Australian waters.

It was at that point that Australian commandos boarded the ship and detained the asylum seekers. The result was a civil suit by the Council for Civil Liberties Eric Vadarlis, who sought a writ of habeas corpus for the asylum seekers.

While Vadarlis did win the first court trial, the Federal Government successfully appealed to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, where it was decided that the government had the right to deny entry of non-citizens into Australia.

Wik Peoples v Queensland – 1996

The Wik Decision was highly impactful when it came to the future of land rights in Australia. This specific issued dealt with the strip of land on the Cape York Peninsula, and the case was brought before the Federal Court of Australia to determine the native rights of the Wik Peoples.

The decision in the High Scout eventually ruled in favor of the Wik Peoples and it marked a milestone in terms of deciding what to do with competing claims of native lands and leases.

Dietrich v the Queen – 1992

Olaf Dietrich became an unexpected champion of human rights when he was charged with smuggling heroin in condoms. He was, as a result, refused trial aid unless he pled guilty to his charges, despite common law’s widely held tradition to his right of a fair trial.

Despite the fact that Dietrich went on to commit other series crimes, such as armed robberies, it was a solidification of the right to a fair trial in Australia, no matter the nature of the crime.

Waltons Stores Ltd v Maher – 1988

This case had such a huge impact on the law of the land because it was the case that established promissory estoppel as its own cause of action as an attack instead of as defense.

The strength of contract law allowed for damages to be sought and principles like ‘unconscionable conduct’ to be cited in a case. Because Walton Stores Ltd had so convinced the Mahers that a contract was going to take place, the court decided that they owed the Mahers damages as if they had, even though they never truly did sign a legal contract.

Commonwealth v Tasmania – 1983

Known colloquially as the “Tasmanian Dam Case,” this is remembered fondly as both a constitutional landmark and an environmental victory. The case, which saw the Australian and Tasmanian governments clash in the High Court of Australia, dealt with the proposed construction of a hydropower damn on the Gordon River in southwest Tasmania.

The Tasmanian government argued its right to construct the dam, the Federal Government worked to get in their way, citing Australia’s responsibility under the World Heritage Convention.

In 1983, the Federal Government won with a 4:3 majority ruling in the High Court. It saved the Gordn River, and it set a precedent for preserving Australian wilderness for years to come.

Mabo v Queensland – 1992

In 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized to the Indigenous Australians for the past atrocities committed by the Australian government.

That likely would not have taken place if not for Mabo v Queensland.

The landmark case was responsible for removing the 17th century doctrine of terra nullius, and inserting native title in Australian law. The case not only changed one of the oldest doctrines of national land law, but also finally acknowledged Indigenous Australians as the original inhabitants of Australia.

The case, which spanned over a decade, revoled around the Meriam People’s campaign to claim legal ownership over the ancestral lands on the island of Mer in the Torres Strait. While there was powerful opposition from the Queensland government, and while two of the original five claimants died before the conclusion of the case, the High Court ultimately ruled in a 6:1 majority in favor of the Meriam People. This move led to the Native Title Act a year later, which allowed Indigenous people across Australia to claim traditional rights to unalienated land.

While there are many landmark cases that have had lasting impact on the law of Australia, these cases marked changes in not only the law of the commonwealth, but the opinions of the men and women who call it home.