Trying to find a good attorney in California can feel like locating a needle in a haystack. With more than 160,000 practicing lawyers it’s helpful to know where to find one that’s suitable for your needs.
Five common ways to locate an attorney in California are personal referrals, lawyer referral services, legal aid agencies, prepaid legal services, and attorney-client matching services.
Personal referrals can be very beneficial and reduce time spent finding a lawyer. Almost everyone has needed legal help at some point. Also, a lot of people know lawyers who can refer colleagues that specialize in the type of legal work needed. Ask family members, friends, co-workers, and colleagues for a recommendation.
Lawyer referral services match clients with an appropriate law firm. Clients are interviewed to discuss their legal problem and referred to an attorney capable of handling the case.
Most often, agencies assess a nominal fee for the initial consultation and to match clients with law firms. Finding attorneys through referral services is a preferred option for most people because it helps them quickly locate legal help.
California state law requires referral agencies to obtain certification from the State Bar. Participating attorneys must be in good standing with the Bar; carry malpractice insurance; and meet standards of the CA Supreme Court.
Legal aid agencies help low-income clients obtain legal help from practicing attorneys. Legal aid is offer to qualified individuals needing help with non-criminal cases, but unable to afford a lawyer. A good place for California residents in need of free or low-cost legal services is LawHelpCA.org.
Prepaid legal service plans let clients pay a fixed rate for needed services. These plans require clients to pay a monthly or annual fee to lock-in rates and ensure they have a qualified attorney for all their legal needs.
It’s important to understand limitation of services when subscribing to prepaid plans. While most provide affordable services for civil and criminal matters, they usually don’t cover business law or estate planning services.
Attorney-client matching services are used to connect clients with law firms. Unlike referral services, matching services allow clients to select a participating attorney that is right for them.
Clients submit claims through a secure online bulletin board where it is reviewed by various attorneys. Lawyers interested in representing the client submit a response to initiate a conversation and determine if both parties are a good fit.
It’s advisable to have a lawyer on retainer whenever possible. This is particularly important with matters concern settling an estate or of an urgent nature such as needing an emergency restraining order or criminal defense.
When interviewing law firms it’s important to clarify all fees associated with your case. Along with attorney fees, clients are usually responsible for expenses associated with paralegals, research, phone calls, faxing documents, shipping expenses and court filing fees.
The law office of Craton and Switzer provides an array of services including real estate law, estate planning, retirement planning, and business law. If you are looking for an experienced attorney in California we invite you to contact us to discuss your legal needs.