No one plans on needing a lawyer, so when a situation arises that requires legal expertise – wills and powers of attorney, business and real estate transactions, DUIs and traffic tickets, divorces and adoptions, drug charges or restraining orders, etc. – the first reaction is almost always: Help! I don’t know any lawyers. How do I find one! Do I really need one?
A qualified lawyer’s advice can help you understand the complex rules often associated with business negotiations, estate planning, tax strategies and real estate purchases. And you’ll want to call a skilled lawyer if you’re accused of a crime or find yourself the defendant in a legal suit.
But how do you find a lawyer who best suits your needs? Begin the search by asking friends and relatives whose judgment you respect, checking out the list of the BBB Accredited attorneys at wynco.bbb.org, or going to a legal referral service via your state’s bar association. In Colorado, you can do that online at cobar.org/directory/ and in Wyoming at yomingbar.org/directory/need_lawyer.html
Don’t settle for the first name that comes up. You’ll want to hire a lawyer who can best represent your interests and one with whom you will feel comfortable working. If you want advice on estate planning, for example, you don’t want to consult an attorney who specializes in DUIs.
Once you’ve got a list of potential candidates, your Better Business Bureau recommends:
• Call each attorney, describe your legal issue, and find out if he or she handles that type of situation.
• Don’t be afraid of talking about fees upfront. Ask about the retainer and potential for additional fees and charges. Depending on where you live and the nature of your problem, a lawyer’s time can cost between $25 and $200 per hour on up. If necessary, continue your search until you find a qualified attorney who fits your budget.
• Big print ads or frequent television commercials do not mean the attorney is better qualified than others. Always review a lawyer’s background, including his or her BBB Business Review.
• Never sign anything until you have time to review it. If need be, ask a trusted friend or relative to go over it with you.
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or phone 970-484-1348 or 800-564-071.