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Where and How to Look When You Need an Attorney

A lot of lawyers are out there — more than 1.3 million, in fact. And, for much of our lives, many of us will find that we don't really need their help. But when we do need a lawyer, we need one badly. Only a trained and licensed attorney is qualified to help you with certain situations. Failing to get an attorney, failing to get a good one, or failing to get one quickly enough can cost you dearly.

When you need an attorney, you need a good one — and you need to avoid the bad ones. Here's how to find the lawyer who can help you.

Do you need an attorney?

Here's a simple rule of thumb: If you think that you might need an attorney, you should probably speak to one.

Legal situations are complex. Nobody can give you legal advice besides an attorney who understands the details of your situation. Nothing is a substitute for that — not a message board like Reddit's /r/legaladvice, not this article, not your neighbor at a cocktail party, not even a professional paralegal — nothing!

And if you do have a legal situation brewing, it's better to talk to your attorney sooner rather than later. Time is of the essence in legal situations, and your attorney will appreciate the head start.

Common reasons to need an attorney include divorce, founding a business, and writing a will. Also common is the personal injury lawsuit. If you've been injured through no fault of your own, you could fight and win compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and more. The key will be proving that another party's negligence caused an accident and your injury — and, again, only your attorney can tell you if you've got a great case or not.

Where to look for an attorney

So you need an attorney. Where should you look?

You can start with a simple Google search or with a look at the website of your local bar association. You could also jot down the numbers and website URLs of the law firms that you see in television ads and on billboards.

Don't call just anyone, of course. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Check out online review websites (particularly those that focus on reviews of lawyers). And learn how to read an attorney's website, hunting for things like testimonials, areas of expertise, education, and newsworthy past results.

What to look for in an attorney

You're going to be working closely with your attorney, so make sure that you choose a professional who is going to get you results and be pleasant to work with.

Look for an attorney with a good reputation. Reading reviews and asking friends and family members for recommendations will help. Double-check the attorney's name with a Google search, suggests Maryam Parman, who herself is known as a “Super Woman Super Lawyer.” You may find a news story about his or her last big success — or you may find the details of a scandal or failure. You may not find a “super woman,” but you should be able to narrow down your options for quality representation.

Get an attorney who you are comfortable working with. Don't be afraid to turn to a different attorney after your initial consultation. You want someone who can clearly explain your options to you and who is pleasant and helpful in conversation.

When you find the right attorney, you'll be able to rest easier at night knowing that your case is in the right hands.

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