Find a Good Lawyer to Sue Someone
10 Things You Should Know Before You Sue
To find a good lawyer when you want to sue someone takes some thought and time. If your lawsuit will involve complex issues or large sums of money, careful research will improve your prospects for success. Here we clear up questions about state licensing, the practice specialties of lawyers, how to sue someone in Small Claims Court, how lawyers get paid, the absolute best way to find a good lawyer, and what to do if you cannot afford a lawyer to sue someone.
When you sue someone, find a good lawyer in your state. The practice of a lawyer is limited to the states where he/she is licensed. Your lawyer must be licensed to practice law in the state where you are going to sue someone. Patent attorneys are the only exception to state licensing, because patent law is administered, not by any state, but by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
- To sue someone, you should find a lawyer who has a specialty in the required area. Lawyers specialize in areas of interest and expertise, much like doctors.The most requested legal specialists are in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense including dui defense, family law including divorce, bankruptcy, immigration and medical malpractice.
Given the complexity of contemporary society, you will not be surprised at the degree of specialization within the legal profession. To name a few more of these areas of lawyer specialization, there is administrative law, business bankruptcy law, civil appellate law, civil trial law, consumer bankruptcy law, consumer law, commercial law, criminal law, estate planning and probate law, family law, health law, immigration and nationality law, juvenile law, labor and employment law, oil, gas and mineral law, personal injury, trial law, real estate law, tax law, and workers' compensation law, as well as other fields.
Some lawyers are trial lawyers who are involved in litigation. Other lawyers, called transactional lawyers or corporate lawyers, work in business areas, such as contracts, tax planning, mergers and acquisitions, business deals, wills and trusts, regulatory filings, legal advice, patents and trademarks, bankruptcy, real estate and securities law. From these specialties, decide what type of lawyer you need to sue someone.
In the United States, any attorney is permitted to argue your case in court, give legal advice on any topic and draft legal documents. However, an attorney may go on to be certified as a specialist in one of the many areas of legal practice. But state board certification is not generally required to practice in any specialty.
- Before you sue someone, ask a lawyer if you have a legal basis for a lawsuit. You know you have been injured, but you might have no legal basis to sue, or you may lack proof. In the eyes of the law, hurt feelings, insults and bad blood are usually not enough to sue someone. And you can't sue someone for slander, unless you can prove the slander is actually a lie. You must show that your loss is actionable. A good lawyer will help you weigh the merits of your case before you sue someone.
- Sometimes to sue someone is not the best answer for your problem. A legal action involves substantial legal fees, plus lots of preparation and research. If your lawsuit goes to court, it can be prolonged and delayed for a long time. Even if the court rules in your favor, the other party can appeal. And when you finally receive a judgment for money, it may be impossible to collect the money you are awarded. The defendant may not have the money, or may skip town. You'll have to sue someone again to collect the money the court awarded you. And meanwhile, the cost of billable hours from your lawyer is adding up. Financially, it is sometimes a good idea not to sue someone, to be the better person and take the high road.
- You don't need a lawyer to sue someone in Small Claims Court. Most legal cases require the assistance of an experienced lawyer. But in other less serious matters, self representation may also be an option, which means you can act as your own lawyer. If you are suing for money you are owed and the amount is small, you can file the case in Small Claims Court. When the amount at stake is small, you are your own best lawyer. In some states, the limit you can sue for in Small Claims is $5,000 or $10,000. You can sue in Small Claims for the return of a rent deposit, unpaid bills, or a broken contract. Many people regularly sue someone and argue their own case in Small Claims Court without a lawyer. Each state has its own rules of evidence, but they are easy to understand. Generally, by filing in Small Claims Court, you give up the right to appeal the outcome.
- Don't act as your own lawyer to sue someone. Sometimes you do have the option of suing in court on your own behalf without a lawyer. You may be tempted to act as your own lawyer to avoid the costs of hiring a lawyer. In general, this is not advisable. The legal training of a good lawyer will be invaluable to sue someone. It is difficult to be objective when your life, well-being and personal interest are at stake. The law is based on rules and precedents, not necessarily on common sense. You've heard the saying, "A person who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."
- The way to find a good lawyer to sue someone is from personal referrals. Ask people with similar problems to refer you to a good lawyer for your lawsuit It's not likely that your next-door neighbor will know a good lawyer for your needs. But any lawyer can refer you to another lawyer with the right practice specialty to sue someone for you. When you contact a lawyer, mention who referred you.In a field where reputation bears a direct correlation to cash flow, personal referrals from another lawyer are important.
- To find a good lawyer, referrals from special interest groups can be valuable. For example, a support group for parents with disabled children may know a good lawyer to sue someone regarding disability cases. A women's group can direct members to a good lawyer to sue someone for harassment issues.
- Referrals from professionals you do business with can be helpful. A referral from your banker, your accountant, your doctor or your pastor, your insurance agent or real estate professional can be worth checking out. You can also seek the advice of an industry group or a service organization for the name of a good lawyer to sue someone.
- To find a good lawyer when you want to sue someone, there are public databases and Internet services to help you locate a lawyer in the right specialty. Your local branch of the American Bar Association will also provide the names of lawyers in your state. You can even use the yellow pages or check out television advertising. Most of these sources do not evaluate the lawyers they list. You need more information about a lawyer before you can make a decision about using the lawyer to sue someone.
- Visit the websites of potential lawyers. Find out if they can sue someone in a case like yours. Evaluate their areas of expertise and qualifications. Review their client list, if it is available. You can sometimes find out more about your candidates by running a Google search for their name. All kinds of interesting details will surface this way.
- Ask if the lawyer offers a free initial consultation.
- How a Lawyer Bills to Sue Someone. Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure. Professional fees range from $100 per billable hour to $500 and more, depending on the lawyer and the specialty. If you sue someone for a personal injury, the lawyer might work for a contingency fee, a percentage of the settlement if he/she wins the case for you. If the legal matter is straightforward, such as preparing incorporation papers, the lawyer might quote the fee as a lump sum. Sometimes fees are negotiable. Other times when you sue someone, the lawyer will require a nonrefundable retainer in advance. A good lawyer will discuss fees candidly in advance and provide a written fee agreement.
Although the quoted hourly rate might seem excessive at first hearing, remember that the rate includes all the overhead of a legal office, including staff, rent, advertising, research tools, and the other expenses of being in business.
- There are other legal costs to consider. You will also be billed separately for other costs related to the suit, such as postage, document transcriptions, travel, filing fees and so on. Ask for an estimate of these out-of-pocket costs, too.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer to sue someone, check the Legal Aid agency in your town. If you quality and your case is not a criminal matter, they will provide you with a lawyer who will handle your case for free.
- Here is another solution if you cannot afford a lawyer to sue someone. Most lawyers will work for free, pro bono, which means that they do not charge you for their time. A pro bono lawyer may practice in any legal specialty, from administrative and civil law to criminal. Some state bar associations require that attorneys complete a certain number of pro bono hours per year. It doesn't hurt to ask an attorney about it.
- If you can't afford a lawyer to sue someone, find a lawyer who will work for you on a contingency basis. The lawyer will not bill you, but will take a percentage of the money awarded if you win the case. Your lawyer's fee might be 30% or more of the award when you sue someone. Personal injury lawyers are most likely to sue someone for you on a contingency fee.
- When you Interview a good lawyer, be prepared, because you are hiring someone to work for you. At the first interview, you will provide the lawyer with background on your case, the facts, and supporting evidence. After evaluating your needs, a lawyer may feel he/she cannot accept you as a client. The reason may be a conflict of interest, or you may be no legal basis to sue someone, or the lawsuit may be outside their area of expertise, or they may feel that the suit is not financially worthwhile. If your interview ends unsuccessfully, be sure to ask for a referral to another lawyer.
During the preliminary interview, you'll want to ask if they will sue someone and take the case to court or will they negotiate a settlement out of court. Ask about their legal experience and success. Find out how much of the work will be done by paralegals. A lawyer should also carry liability insurance. Ask the lawyer to estimate the time and cost involved. You should get a written agreement explaining how they will handle your lawsuit and how they will bill you.
- After you have done due diligence to find a good lawyer, don't neglect your gut instinct. A good lawyer to sue someone must be a lawyer you feel comfortable working with. You may want the lawyer to explain the lawsuit to you. You may prefer an aggressive lawyer who will be a bulldog in protecting your rights. Be sure that the lawyer actually wants to sue someone for you and has enough time available to do a thorough job.
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