Everyone gets into some trouble at some point of their life. In the United States of America, every Tom, Dick and Harry who is not happy about the way they feel about anything goes to the court. While the existence of a reliable legal system to protect the rights of any common man is a proof of the social advancement of the society, it is only natural to assume that it may be exploited by atleast some to gain benefits from the broad system through frivilous or false charges. Whether you feel you have been taken advantage of and deserve legal advise or action or you feel that you are being accused of some crime which you may or may not have committed, it is absolutely essential that you have a lawyer on your side before you contact the police. Here, from my experience in this country, I list a few details I have discovered when you are choosing a lawyer.
- GET A SPECIALIST: A barber cannot do you nails. There may be barbers who think they can do your nails, and some may even do it well, but if you love your nails you would not trust them in the hands of a barber. A family law attorney can only help you so much with a criminal charge against you. Go to the specialist when you need one. If you need to settle a land dispute, go to a land dispute specialist, if you have been accused of rape, go to a sexual assault specialist.
- TRUST THE LAWYER, HIRE ONE WHO TRUSTS YOU: As they say, Never hide anything from your doctor and your lawyer. In fact, any conversation you have with your lawyer is strictly confidential and you can trust the attorney to keep your words within the confines of his office. This is called the Attorney-Client confidentiality. As important as trusting your lawyer, is the fact that if you feel that your attorney trusts you. If you feel like your attorney doesn’t trust your story, you can never sleep at night trusting your life and/or property under his legal guidance. How do you know if he or she trusts you? You will know it.
- NEVER MAKE A QUICK DECISION: When you want to buy a shirt, you never go to a store and pick up the first shirt that meets you eye (do you?). Choosing your lawyer is like shopping. Do not make a hasty decision. Some lawyers are like blood-sucking vampires. A friend described to me how his encounter with a well-known law firm in LA went. My friend was accused of a crime and was scheduled to meet a police officer for an ‘interview’ the next morning and he was frantically searching for a lawyer. He called this law firm and they scheduled him for a meeting late in the afternoon. Then they made sure he waited long enough in the waiting room so that he couldn’t get out of the meeting before all the other law offices closed for the day. He went through an embaressing interview with the lawyer during which they told him how young boys like him get raped in the prison if he gets arrested, if he doesn’t hire them for the next morning. When my friend made a (smart and) courageous move of not hiring them, they even refused to validate his parking downstairs. Lawyers know your mental weaknesses, in fact, it is their job to tap into your fears and shake you from inside. Be aware of this fact before making any rash or hasty decisions. Think calmly, take your time and then make a decision.
- MONEY MATTERS: A legal battle is never a cheap affair. If you wait long enough and show financial inability you may be appointed a lawyer in the US by the court, but they may not take your case as seriously as an Attorney you pay. Any decision about choosing a lawyer should be made after clarifying with him/her the complete legal expenses you would be expected to meet including any hidden charges anywhere. Sometimes they may be unaffordable by you given your financial situation. Ask the help of your relatives or friends. There are also banks which offer loans to people needing financial assistance for legal expenses. At the end of the day you must weigh between the financial strain that the legal battle will bring to your future life and the severity of the accusation/financial debt/punishment that may be meted out against you.
- DO NOT MEET THE POLICE ALONE: Never meet the police alone. There are exceptions to this rule depending on the gravity of the crime or situation you are in. For a red light violation or a parking ticket, you may be able to read up all the rules and represent yourself in the court or to the police. However if you are accused of criminal charges (falsely or otherwise), hire a lawyer before talking to the police.
DISCLAIMER: The Author is not a legal expert. These are some tips from his experiences with the long arms of law. He cannot stress more about how important it is to have a lawyer advice you on any matters legal.