When you are faced with a legal issue, you may be confused about how to go about finding a lawyer. What do I do? Do I even need a lawyer? How much will it cost? How do I find a lawyer with the experience I need? Who do I call or contact? Since 1966, the Austin Lawyer Referral Service has helped people with these questions.
You May Wish to Consult with or Hire a Lawyer in the Following Situations
- Before you sign a contract that will have a major financial impact on you.
- When starting a business or forming a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company.
- If you are involved in a car wreck that is not your fault, resulting in injury.
- When you need to have a will or trust drafted, or to plan your estate.
- If you are seeking a divorce or setting up child support or visitation.
- If you are arrested and charged with a crime.
- If you have a lawsuit filed against you, or you need to file a lawsuit against someone.
Tips for Finding a Lawyer
The Lawyer Referral Service has been referring lawyers to individuals like you for over 50 years. LRS is a trusted source for legal information and assistance. LRS lawyers have been screened and are experience qualified to receive referral in specific legal areas. LRS lawyers charge full fees for their services (we also have some reduced fee programs). If there may be other ways to handle your issue, we will refer you to other resources that may be less costly. Following are some reasons that LRS is the best way to find a lawyer!
|Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas (LRS)||Internet Directory/Phone Directory|
|Trained staff to listen and understand your legal issues||Impersonal|
|LRS requires lawyers to show experience levels||No experience requirements or qualification|
|Malpractice insurance required and verified to participate with LRS||Lawyers are not required to carry malpractice insurance|
|Lawyers must be in good standing with the State Bar of Texas (LRS checks this weekly)||Lawyer standing with the State Bar of Texas may not be checked regularly|
|Lawyers are Certified by the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association||The State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association do not regulate or approve online directories.|
|LRS reviews attorney performance|
LRS reviews client satisfaction
LRS is approved by the American Bar Association as a model for access to justice.
|Lack of oversight by directories|
Ask Friends and Family
A recommendation from a friend or family member may be a way to find help. Be sure the lawyer you interview has experience in the area you need. If you are seeking assistance with business formation, a lawyer who specializes in family law may not have the experience you need!
If you contact a lawyer based on a television, radio, or online advertisement, be sure to interview them about their practice areas. Do not believe everything you read or hear in advertisements. Ask questions. Take the time to understand the lawyer who will be representing you in the court, how you can communicate with the attorney, and how much they charge for their services. There are no guaranteed outcomes.
Consider Asking These Questions
- What do you charge for the first consultation?
- What are your qualifications and experience relevant to my case?
- Have you handled a problem similar to mine? What was the result?
- Will you personally work on my case? If not, who will be working on it—other lawyers, legal assistants, or both?
- What are your fees? Are they firm or can they be changed while you are representing me?
- What are the services that will be rendered for those fees?
- What other expenses are likely to be incurred, if any?
- What payment options are available?
- How frequently will you bill me?
There are several types of fee arrangements lawyers use to bill their clients. LRS requires participating lawyers to provide their clients a written fee agreement outlining the chargeable fees, scope of work, and additional expenses, if any.
Types of Legal Fees Include
Fixed fees/Flat fees: This is common for things, such as drafting or reviewing wills, real estate or business contracts, and in criminal law matters. Family law lawyers who practice Limited Scope services also charge flat fees.
Hourly fee: Hourly rates differ depending on the complexity of the legal matter and the experience of the lawyer. Ask them an estimated timeline for completion of legal matters. This will give you an idea of how much the total fee may be, depending on what happens during the course of your case.
Contingency fee: This type of charge is commonly used in personal injury when suing somebody for money. The fee is contingent upon the lawyer obtaining a monetary award or settlement for you. If you win the case or settle it out of the court, you will pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the money. Be aware that when you agree to a contingency fee arrangement, you are usually responsible to pay for court costs and other litigation expenses, such as the cost of expert witnesses, whether you win or settle the case outside the court.
Working with Your Lawyer
When you have selected a lawyer, you should take certain steps to ensure a smooth working relationship and avoid unnecessary costs and effort.
Your Responsibility as a Client
- Tell the truth and disclose all known facts about your legal matter, even those facts that you think are damaging to your case. A lawyer cannot effectively represent you unless you relate all of the facts involved in your case.
- Bring copies of all documents, letters, and other correspondence relating to your legal matter to the meeting with the lawyer. Provide the lawyer with a list of all names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons involved in the case. These steps ensure there aren’t any unnecessary delays to the proceedings.
- Ask your lawyer to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Ask about the reasonable outcome(s) you can expect from your case.
- Take your lawyer’s advice seriously. Your lawyer is a professional. If you do not have confidence in your lawyer’s ability to make sound legal decisions about your case, you should probably seek a different lawyer.
- Keep your lawyer informed about any new developments in your case. Save all documents relating to your case and provide copies to your lawyer on a timely basis. Do not let your lawyer be surprised later by a disclosure you should have made earlier.
- Ask your lawyer to keep you informed about new developments relating to your case. Request that copies of all documents and correspondence prepared on your behalf by your lawyer be sent to you.
- If you do not understand something that your lawyer says, ask for an explanation. Ask until the answer makes sense.
- Do not sign any agreement until you fully understand it. Ask questions. Understand legal fees.
Your lawyer, in turn, should take certain steps to ensure a smooth working relationship with you and to affect the best possible result for your legal matter.
Your Lawyer’s Responsibility
- Disclose new developments relating to your legal matter in a timely fashion and guide you as to how those developments need to be handled.
- Return all phone calls made by you in a reasonable time frame or have a staff member update you.
- Keep you fully informed about the impact of any actions that are contemplated.
- Furnish you with a written fee agreement (required by the Referral Service) and disclose unanticipated costs relating to your legal matter in a timely fashion.
- Bill you periodically and promptly for fees paid and services rendered.
- Understand your goals and expectations for resolving the matter. Discuss these goals and expectations to make sure these are reasonable.
- Listen to you and be attentive to your concerns.
Not all problems have a fast, cheap, or smooth resolution. Even if you, as the client, are being reasonable, the other side may not be cooperative in bringing your case to an easy and inexpensive conclusion. Some of these factors may be out of your attorney’s control.
Problems with Your Lawyer
If you have a problem with a lawyer referred by Lawyer Referral Service, please call our office for assistance.
Some problems between lawyers and clients are because of misunderstandings or lack of communication. If you believe you have a problem with your lawyer, consider talking it over with them directly. The lawyer may be unaware of the problem and, after a discussion, you may be able to resolve the problem.
If you are unable to resolve the disagreement over fees, contact the Austin Bar Association. It offers a fee dispute mediation program.
If you have spoken to your lawyer and cannot resolve the issue, contact the Client-Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP) at the State Bar of Texas.
Need Help Finding a Lawyer?
Lawyer Referral Service can help you find lawyers and other community resources in Texas. To learn more about our services, call (512) 472-8303 or fill out the form below.