Hiring A Michigan Attorney – What you need to know

Why Should You Hire an Attorney?

When you are faced with a legal problem, the best way to protect your rights and interest is by hiring an attorney to represent you. Over the years, the legal system in the United States has become very complex and without legal training, it can be very difficult for people to navigate through the legal system. When you are trying to represent yourself, it is easy to make an error and even a small error can be very damages to the outcome of your case.

How to Find a Good Attorney?

Referrals
There are many ways you can find an attorney. The best way is to ask people you know and trust for the name of attorney. You should ask your friends, family members, and people who are in business and regularly interact with attorneys such as doctors, accounts, and business owners. Once you obtain a few names, you should contact several attorneys to interview. Some lawyers offer a free or reduced fee consultation to prospective clients. You may also learn more about a particular attorney by checking out that attorney’s website. In your search for an attorney, look for an attorney who regularly practices in the area of law you need.

Lawyers Referral Service

Several organizations, including State Bar of Michigan, offer lawyer referral services to help people to find attorneys. When you contract lawyer referral service, the staff will give you the name and telephone number of one attorney in the county in which you need an attorney. The lawyer referral service numbers of State Bar of Michigan is (800) 968-0738. However, keep in mind that the State Bar of Michigan or other lawyer referral service does not guarantee that a particular attorney is well qualified and competent to handle your case.

On-Line Directories

There are a number of commercial on-line directories that lists names of attorneys. In order to be on that lists attorneys pay a fee. There is no guarantee that those attorneys are qualified to handle your case.

Legal Services & Law School Clinics

Legal Services and Law School Clinic are organizations throughout the state that provide free or reduced cost legal advice and representation. To qualify for their legal services, generally you must meet income and other eligibility criteria. Legal Services and Law School Clinics provide assistance with legal issues such as housing, eligibility for government service, consumer and family law problems. Even if you do not qualify for their services, they often can refer to attorneys who take cases like yours at a reduced rate.

Unauthorized Practice of Law

Whenever you are asking someone to give you legal advice or to help you to prepare a legal document, you should make sure that the person is qualified to assist you with your legal issue. It is an unauthorized practice of law for a person, who is not authorized to practice law, to draft legal documents or practice law for another person. By hiring a non-lawyer, you may end up in a worse position. If that is the case, you may have to pay an attorney not only to help you with the original legal issue, but also to fix the problem caused by non-lawyer.

How Much and How Do Attorney Charge?

The amount that attorneys charge for their services varies significantly depending on the type of case, attorney’s experience, operating expenses, and the location of his or her law practice. Some attorneys may charge more for the same type of cases and others less. Cheaper does not necessary means better when it comes to your legal interest. A more expensive attorney with a more experience may be able to handle a complex problem more quickly.

The following are the typical fee arrangements used by attorneys:

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are the most common fee arrangement for the attorneys. Under this arrangement, an attorney charges you hourly rate for each hour they worked on your case until the case is resolved.

Flat Fees

Some attorney may charge a flat fee, where a legal matter is simple and easy to determine the cost upfront. Examples where an attorney may charge a flat fee include wills, simple bankruptcy, and uncontested divorce. When an attorney charges a flat a fee, be sure to inquire what that flat fee will and will not cover.

Retainer Fee

Retainer Fee is an advance payment of the hourly rate for a specific case. You pay the amount of retainer fee to an attorney when you hire him or her to represent you in your case. An attorney puts the retainer in a special trust account and deducts the cost of the attorney’s services as they accrue.

Contingent Fees

Under the contingent fee arrangement, an attorney does not take any fee from you up-front, but instead gets percentage of the settlement or money you receive when the case is resolved in your favor. Contingent fee arrangement is typical for medical malpractice and personal injury cases. Contingent fee arraignment is prohibited in divorce, criminal, and child custody cases.

Do Different Types of Cases Require Special Type of Lawyer?

Yes. Legal representation can be divided into two main categories: criminal law and civil law. Criminal law includes cases where a person commits an illegal act which is punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. Whenever you are faced with prospect of going to jail or prison, you are strongly recommended to hire a criminal attorney. Civil law includes all the other types of legal issues such as contracts, divorce, wills, personal injury, landlord/tenant, litigation, and etc.

Some lawyers are general practitioners, who handle a wide variety of cases. Other lawyers specialize in a few areas of law and develop skills in handling those types of cases. If you are dealing with a simple issue, a general practitioner can easily assist you. However, if you have a more complex legal issue, you probably would want to hire a specialist, an attorney who has a lot of experience handling such cases.

Where Do You Find Michigan Attorney’s Disciplinary Record?

Anytime an attorney is disciplined, the public record of the discipline should be posted on the Attorney Discipline Board website (http://www.adbmich.org/). However, the public record may not include a minor disciplinary action against an attorney.

What Should You Expect from a First Meeting With an Attorney?

The first meeting with an attorney is an opportunity for you and the attorney to get to know one another and to discuss your legal problem. Some lawyers will offer a free or discounted rate for the first meeting. When you call to schedule the first meeting with the attorney, you are strongly recommended to ask if there will be a charge for your first meeting. If the meeting was for a fee, you have to pay that fee even if you do not hire the attorney, but you are not obligated to hire the attorney either way. If you are not satisfied with your meeting, you always have the option to talk to other lawyers.

What Questions Should You Ask an Attorney Before Hiring

You are recommended to ask at attorney any question that you have regarding your matter. There are no stupid questions. Legal cases can be complicated and confusing. The question you may want to ask an attorney will vary depending on your case. Here are a few questions you are recommended asking before hiring an attorney.

  1. Whether an attorney has experience in handling cases similar to yours? How many and what was the outcome?
  2. How long the attorney has been in practice?
  3. Whether the attorney has ever been professionally disciplined, and if so, whether he or she is now in good standing with the Bar?
  4. Will the attorney be the only one handling your case? If not, who else will work on it?
  5. How long it will take to complete your case? Please note, things can happen which will affect the length of time that may take to complete your case and attorneys cannot guarantee a particular result.
  6. Whether there are alternatives to the course of action recommended by the attorney?
  7. Can you reach the attorney after hours if you have an emergency?