When you find yourself needing legal representation, it can be sudden and unexpected. You may not have the money to pay a lawyer, especially when your situation is very complicated. In such times, you might wonder if you should still hire a lawyer for their services.
Do I really need a lawyer or can I represent myself?
When it comes to representing yourself in court or preparing documents, it may seem like you’re saving money by doing so, especially when you can’t afford a lawyer. It’s important, however, to consider that hiring an experienced and competent attorney is better than representing yourself. This is because the lawyer knows how the courts work and what they’re expecting from each case. You might feel prepared going into court, but you may not be aware of all of the ins and outs of what you’re facing, while a lawyer will better understand and be able to provide legal assistance that can be vital.
How are attorney's fee Determined?
A judge only appoints a public defender for someone who cannot afford their own counsel in criminal cases and in limited other circumstances. This is usually based on the results of a financial assessment test to determine eligibility. The state also assigns non-profit or private organizations to provide legal services in certain cases.
In most other cases, individuals will need to hire private lawyers and pay for their attorney’s fees. Private lawyers will charge for their services and these private attorney fees can be decided in a number of ways:
- Lawyers can use an hourly rate, which is often used when matters are contested;
- Lawyers can charged a fixed fee depending on the situation, fixed fees are usually reserved for estate plans, guardianships, and other non-contested matters;
- Lawyers may ask the client what they can afford to pay (although this can cause problems if the client turns out to be broke); and
- In some types of matters the fees are fixed by statute.
Free Legal services
Who qualifies for free legal representation?
In circumstances where someone needs to have legal representation, such as criminal cases, there are some opportunities for free legal representation. In other circumstances, legal aid provides a lawyer for people who do not make enough to afford one and also fall below a certain percentage of median income within their state. Legal aid only handles certain types of cases.
When will there be a court-appointed public defender provided?
This happens in situations where someone might be facing criminal charges and would like an attorney but cannot afford one. In this situation, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent them in court by considering the defendant’s criminal record and the severity of the charges.
What types of crimes require a public defender?
Crimes that require an attorney appointed by the courts include:
- capital offences where someone faces life imprisonment or the death penalty,
- felonies where someone is facing a term of over one year jail time, and
- misdemeanors in which someone faces a jail term of more than six months.
Pro Bono Programs
There are also pro bono attorney programs that will provide legal help to people who do not have the money for legal service from a big law firm. Free or low cost legal resources are available in some areas for families facing housing problems, or families with children.
How to Find a Legal Services Corporation That Will Offer Free Legal Advice or Provide Free Legal Services
Here are some steps to use in finding a legal aid agency in your area.
- Search the Internet for “free legal representation in your state.”
- Check with your county offices for referrals and information on free legal representatives. Also check with your local law school or any place where there is a legal clinic.
- Ask friends and family if they know anyone who has used such an organization or representative before and who might be willing to talk with you about the experience.
- Look for articles where those involved in legal matters can tell their side of what happened; this may help you find a direction, and check out your state bar association website because they usually post all kinds of good information.
- Check your local library for information regarding upcoming legal seminars and educational events.
- Check Craigslist listings, as well as ads on bus shelters, telephone poles, local community boards & bulletin boards at coffee shops for postings related to legal services providers.
- Check out the Federal Pro Bono Project website at www.freeadvice.com/probono, which will tell you about pro bono cases through the federal courts and about Legal Aid offices around the country.
Schedule Time with Tina
If you’re ready to discuss your legal options for the types of legal matters she handles, use our online scheduler to view available appointment times and choose one that works for you.
These options are available for new clients and current clients.
You can also reserve space at our upcoming events.