Quick and Easy Tips for Legal Help
This guide has some quick and easy steps for finding the legal help you need.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
There are a number of online resources now available through the Arizona Supreme Court (family law), the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (many types of law), the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (consumer law and identity theft), the Superior Court self-service centers (family law and others), and the Federal Trade Commission (identity theft) and the US Postal Service. Many times your questions can be answered there.
Consider how you hope to resolve the problem. Knowing whether you need a lawyer and knowing what you hope to achieve by contacting a lawyer can make your search for a solution easier.
Here are some tips to help you in your search for a solution:
Where do I look for a lawyer?
All lawyers who are members of the State Bar of Arizona are listed on the State Bar’s website. An easy way to find a lawyer is to go to www.azbar.org and click on “Find a Lawyer.”
You can narrow your search by searching for a lawyer in a certain city, or a lawyer who works in a certain area of law.
Both the Pima County Bar Association and the Maricopa County Bar Association offer a lawyer referral program. The lawyer referral programs provide an opportunity to consult with a lawyer for 30 minutes for a modest fee.
What should I find out about a lawyer?
The Find a Lawyer tool on the State Bar of Arizona website will provide you with important information. Here are some things to keep in mind as your search for the right lawyer for you.
- Practice Area: The types of cases that the lawyer takes.
- Location of Office: Is this location close to you?
- Discipline Record: If a lawyer has been disciplined by the Arizona Supreme Court, you will be able to view the record online or call the State Bar to review the file.
- Standing: Whether the lawyer is an active member of the State Bar of Arizona. Only active members can practice law.
- Licensed Area: Locations where the lawyer is licensed to practice law
What else can I do to solve my problem?
Some problems can be better solved without going to court. Alternative Dispute Resolution options such as mediation and arbitration may be a better alternative. The superior courts often require or offer it for family law matters and perhaps others.
For more information, click here.
What should I do if I’m on active duty?
Within the continental United States, all active duty service members and their dependents can obtain free legal advice and assistance on base or on post from the Legal Assistance department. Connect to websites at the bases or at the base finder website.
First Meeting With the Lawyer
You have researched a lawyer and found someone who you think may be able to help. Your first step might be to have a 30-minute meeting with the lawyer, in person or on the phone.
I only have 30 minutes with a lawyer, what should I bring?
When you only have a short time to talk with a lawyer, getting paperwork and information together before meeting with the lawyer can be very helpful. Here are some things to have ready when you speak with a lawyer:
- Paperwork: Find and bring any paperwork for your legal issue. For example, if you are concerned about debt collection, you may want to have your credit card bills with you.
- Goals: What do you hope to get out of the case?
- Issue: If you can only have one problem solved in 30 minutes, what problem would you pick? Is there one specific problem that caused other problems to happen?
What should I ask the lawyer?
When you have a short time to talk with a lawyer, you may want to find out whether you have a problem that can be solved through the courts and whether you need a lawyer to help you. Here are some questions to keep in mind:
1) Do you think I need a lawyer, or can I handle this myself?
2) Is there a legal solution to my case?
3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
4) What are the possible outcomes of my case?
5) For my legal issue, is there a deadline when I need to file a case in court?
6) How long will it take to resolve my case?
7) How much experience do you have handling cases like mine?
Hiring a Lawyer
You’re ready to pick a lawyer to help you. Before you hire the lawyer, you may want to find out some other information.
How much will my case cost?
The way lawyers charge for their work can change depending on the type of case. Once you understand how much your case may cost, you can better decide whether you want to start the case. Here are some questions to ask your lawyer about fees.
1) What kind of fees do you charge in cases like mine?
2) If the lawyer charges a certain amount per hour (hourly fee):
How much do you charge per hour?
How many hours do you think my case will take?
What will happen if my case takes more or less time than you thought?
3) If the lawyer charges a total fee (flat or fixed fee):
How much time do cases like mine typically take?
What happens if my case settles?
What happens if my case takes more time than you thought?
4) If the lawyer gets a percentage of the amount if you win your case (contingent fee):
How much money do you think I may win?
How do you calculate your percentage?
What percentage do most lawyers charge for this type of case?
What happens if my case settles?
5) What can I do to lower my costs?
How will my case work?
You may want to find out how you and your lawyer will handle your case. Here are some questions to ask your lawyer:
1) How do you think we should handle my case?
2) How will you update me about my case?
3) Will someone other than you work on my case?
4) If we lose this case, what does that mean?
5) What can I do to help you on my case?
What if I have a problem with my lawyer?
If you are not satisfied with your lawyer, you have a number of choices, depending on the problem. Tell your lawyer if you are unhappy with the way your case is being handled. Maybe the lawyer is not aware of the problem and is able to work out a solution. If not, you are free to change lawyers, but you probably will have to pay for the work that has already been done by the first lawyer.
Who owns the records in my case file and how would I get a copy of that or the file itself?
You own the file. If you fire the lawyer, you generally get the original file.
These websites and many others provide helpful information:
State Bar of Arizona
Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education
Maricopa County Bar Association
Pima County Bar Association
Supreme Court of Arizona
Maricopa County Superior Court
Pima County Superior Court
Arizona Attorney General