When Should I see a lawyer?
Starting your own business, getting hurt in an accident, it is time to draw up a will or the buyer of your home is suggesting some creative financing are all times you might need a lawyer. The question is how do you find the right lawyer for your needs? And, once you do, how can you figure out what it might cost?Often we turn to lawyers as a last resort – after the contract has been signed, or the spouse has walked out or a creditor is threatening. However, good legal advice is one of the greatest preventative measures a lawyer can provide. Not only can it save you money in the long run, it can also save you from unpleasant difficulties later.
What about the fee?
Discuss fees frankly with the lawyer, preferably at your first meeting. Often, a lawyer cannot tell you exactly what the charge will be because it is difficult to estimate how much work is going to be involved. But lawyers can usually estimate the minimum and maximum limits of the fee for that particular work, or give you some idea of the problems involved and the time that will be required.Often lawyers require an advance payment, often called a retainer, to cover the initial work and court costs to be paid on your behalf. A lawyer usually makes only a nominal charge, if any, for your first office visit. Lawyers may also take a case on a contingent fee basis. This means that if your suit is successful the lawyer receives a percentage of the amount recovered for you, plus out-of-pocket expenses. Having your fee agreement is writing is preferable.
What do I do if I get served with a summons and complaint in a civil matter?
You should consult an attorney immediately. Generally speaking, you have 20 days from the date you are served with a summons and complaint to serve an answer thereto. Failing to answer the complaint could result in a default being entered against you.