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Find a lawyer before you need one

Do your research and talk to several attorneys before deciding which will best suit your particular set of legal needs. Most attorneys offer free first-time consultations.

You don't have to be in trouble to hire a lawyer, and you certainly don't have to be rich. In fact, a little research will quickly show attorneys aren't that expensive, and most offer free initial consultations. More important, however, having an attorney now can save you money and help you avoid expensive legal problems in the future.

Even the common laws we encounter every day in the workplace, the marketplace, at home or on the road can be complicated. A lawyer will help you understand — and will fight for — your rights. And remember, when entering a legal agreement with another party, whether friendly or not, that other party is usually going to have an attorney. Make sure your legal rights are being represented, too.

Here are nine common reasons you will need a lawyer someday:

1. Signing a contract

An attorney makes sure your interests are protected in any written agreement (and that you avoid oral agreements).

2. Change in personal status

From simple life changes such as your name after a marriage or moving to a different state to more complicated status changes such as divorce, or adoption, or a death in the family, an attorney knows what to do and when.

3. Starting a business

Filing paperwork, keeping up with local ordinances and state laws and regulations, establishing hiring and firing policies and understanding workplace safety laws can be done much more efficiently and properly with the help of an attorney.

4. Writing a will, power of attorney, or medical directive

An attorney can help you with your estate and save you money, especially on taxes and other estate costs, while protecting your property and your family. An attorney can also assure that your family can take care of your business or your health care needs if you are injured.

5. Financial problems

Attorneys can prevent tax problems and help settle debts or file for bankruptcy.

6. Threats to personal rights

If you're fired from work or have been unfairly discriminated against, you need a lawyer who can fight for your rights without getting emotionally involved.

7. Buying or selling property

An attorney will review legal documents and make sure closing paperwork is done to prevent future legal complications. This is particularly true in large transactions of personal property and real property, such as buying one’s home or leasing office space.

8. Accidents

Whether work-related or in a car or in any other circumstance, an attorney can help with medical costs and settlements as well as potential lawsuits. This is certainly an occasion when you know the other side is going to have legal representation. You need someone who knows the system, especially when it comes to insurance settlements and lawsuits, to make sure you get the best deal possible.

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