Your Family Lawyer
Why You Should Have a Family Lawyer?
Almost every family has a family doctor--someone who can be
consulted in cases of illness or other medical problems or for
regular physical checkups. It is just as important to have a
family lawyer. The family lawyer is someone who can be consulted
to meet the legal needs of a family, such as those which arise
in connection with the purchase and the sale of a home, the
preparation of wills, a business transaction or the
administration of a decedent's estate. Your family lawyer can
also represent you in case you or a member of your family is
ever arrested or involved in a law suit.
In short, just as a family needs a doctor who knows the family
members and can help them to protect and maintain their their
physical health, so too a family needs a lawyer who knows the
family members to help protect and advise them concerning their
legal rights and interests.
When Should a Lawyer be Consulted?
As with anything else, the best time to consult your lawyer is
before you have a legal problem--not afterwards. For example,
you should consult your lawyer if you are about to become
involved in any of the following matters:
The purchase or sale of real estate;
Entering into a lease;
Preparation of a will or trust;
Formation or purchase of a business;
Administration of an estate;
Dispute over taxes or assessments;
When you have been in an accident;
Income tax matters;
If you or any member of your family is arrested,
you should consult your lawyer immediately. You should not give
any statement to the police until you have conferred with your
lawyer. If you confess or plead guilty to
even a seemingly harmless offense, you seriously prejudice your
legal rights. Therefore, legal representation is essential at
all times during a criminal proceeding.
It is often wise to consult your lawyer even if you are not sure
you have a legal problem. Generally, a lawyer will charge only a
nominal fee for an initial conference and it will be well worth
the fee if potentially serious
problems can be avoided.
Your Relationship With Your Lawyer
Once you have selected a lawyer and determined what your problem
is, what do you do next? First, of course, you must make a full
disclosure of all the facts to your lawyer. You are only hurting
your own case if you withhold pertinent information or if you
tell your lawyer only one side of the story. Your lawyer cannot
serve you well unless he knows all about the case, pro and con,
good and bad. Communication to your lawyer is
privileged--lawyers are unable to disclose to anyone
conversations or dealings had with clients. Once the matter has
been put in the hands of your lawyer, you should permit the
lawyer to carry the case through to its conclusion and not
continually consult with other lawyers as to various aspects of
the case. Once you have a lawyer, stay with that lawyer unless
you have a good reason to make a change. It is proper for you to
suggest to your lawyer that an associate lawyer be consulted.
Your lawyer will welcome a free and frank discussion of your
relationship with him if this is a problem. Further, just as
your family doctor may refer you to a specialist if you have a
medical problem which is beyond his knowledge or experience,
your family lawyer will do the same with respect to specialized
legal problems. For more information, see the Working With Your Lawyer
section of this website.
How is a Lawyer's Fee Determined?
The amount of the fee which a lawyer charges is determined by a
number of factors, including the amount of time required to be
devoted to the matter, the complexity of the matter, the
lawyer's experience or expertise in that particular area of law,
relationship with the client and the result achieved.
In considering a lawyer's fee, it must be remembered that
maintaining a law office can be very expensive and therefore,
the fee charged by your lawyer will reflect the cost incurred
for office space, secretarial assistance, library maintenance,
office machines and equipment. In fact as much as 50% of your
lawyer's fee may go to pay for office expenses.
When you first consult a lawyer you should discuss how the fee
will be determined. In many cases it will be possible for your
lawyer to give you a fairly accurate estimate of the fee, but
often the amount of the fee is hard to predict because your
lawyer cannot be certain just how complex or time-consuming a
matter will be or how much work will be involved.
In many instances a down payment or retainer may be requested in
advance to cover the preliminary work or cash disbursements
which the lawyer may be required to make. In some situations,
your lawyer may take a case on a contingent fee basis. This
means that if you prevail, your lawyer will take a portion of
the amount recovered as a fee; but if you do not prevail, your
lawyer will receive no fee even though you will have to
reimburse your lawyer for cash disbursements on your behalf. The
contingent fee arrangement enables persons to pursue claims
which they may have without their incurring liability for a
legal fee if they are not successful..
What if I Have a Complaint Against My Lawyer?
If you feel that your lawyer has been dishonest or has not
handled your matter properly, you should contact your state bar
association. Lawyers are officers of the court and as such are
subject to discipline or disbarment for unethical conduct. In
Mississippi, The Mississippi Bar is the agency with which
complaints about lawyers are initially filed. For more
information concerning lawyer complaints, see the
Solving Lawyer/Client Problems
section of this website.