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Around the Table

Levitt Family Law & Mediation’s Blog

Do you really need a lawyer?

by | Dec 3, 2013 | News

In a world of limited time and resources, and where information technology allows much to be obtained from the internet, why consult a lawyer?  Do you really need one?

Lawyers can serve clients in a variety of ways. Regardless of whether you eventually hire a lawyer, a consultation with a lawyer can be a crucial first step in getting the information you need about your legal problem.  You would not buy a house without seeing it or buy a vehicle without a test drive, because the investment is significant and lack of information can result in poor decision making and negative consequences; so too the need for legal advice to understand the many complex issues in divorce and family law, and the effect of those laws on decisions you might make, is important in order to protect your interests.

Beware of Misinformation

There is a lot of misinformation about the law, including on the internet.  The facts of the case of a family member or friend or neighbor or colleague at work, may not be the same as the facts of your case.  The application of the law to your facts and circumstances, and the options and outcomes available, may be vastly different from others.

At a minimum, an in-depth consultation with an attorney can be helpful, where the attorney learns the facts of your case, provides you with legal information and advice specific to your facts, and finds out your goals so they can advise you of the variety of legal options and choices you may have to achieve your desired result.  The information provided in a consultation, can be used to decide whether to go forward with a legal action, what kind of legal process would work best for you, what the positive and negative consequences might be, which of the options or legal processes available would be appropriate for you, whether things like timing or tax consequences or other legal effects are important, what resources are available to you, and cost.  A consultation with an attorney can also help you understand that having legal advice and acting on a legal issue in an informed manner may ultimately benefit you and your family and actually save time and money.

Representing Yourself

We have seen all too often, firsthand, clients who represent themselves without the benefit of legal advice; we are hired later to “pick up the pieces”, sometimes at greater cost than the client would have incurred had they at a minimum at least consulted with an attorney in the first place.  The time and expense of an initial consultation is cheap; the potential consequence of failing to get legal advice from the outset is not, either financially or emotionally or both.  It can be a difficult decision to decide to seek out the assistance of an attorney to discuss what for most people is one of the most painful moments of their lives, but the information gained in a consultation with a lawyer can go a long way to helping a client think rationally about the issue, understand the law and how it applies to their case, and determine their next steps.

Legal Options

There are many different kinds of legal representation, from full representation, to limited assistance representation, to the lawyer providing only consultative services for example when a client is in mediation and wants legal guidance for the mediation process but not representation in the process.  A responsible lawyer will be honest with you and tell you not only whether you need a lawyer, but if you do, in what capacity

Consult with a Lawyer

Think about a consultation with a lawyer as an inexpensive method of information gathering, as a way to educate yourself about your case, and as a way to help you decide whether or not you need a lawyer and what lawyer may be the best fit for you.   Don’t wait to find out whether you need an attorney or not, until after it is too late.