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.

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.