Life in the USA
Government and Law
Lawyers and Litigation
Finding a Lawyer
Despite the fact that lawyers are not highly regarded in popular American culture, many of them work quite hard to prevent or resolve legal problems for their clients. While many reference works and websites allow a person to “look up” the law, and other services facilitate the production of legal documents like wills, sometimes you need to engage an attorney.
The good news is that there is no shortage of lawyers in the United States. This is also the bad news: too many lawyers. If you live in California, for instance, one out of every 322 people is a lawyer. In New York State, the ratio is one out of every 244. If you find this ratio too large, then move to Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. One out of every 22 Washingtonians is a lawyer. The majority of legislators at all levels in America are lawyers. More than half of all American Presidents have been lawyers. Every year, the ever-increasing number of law schools churns out a new crop of legal professionals.
Today, Internet sites that rate service providers such as lawyers, doctors and home contractors are probably the best sources for finding a lawyer of the appropriate specialty who has a good rating with the site users. Lawyers often do advertise, sometimes even on huge billboards in the case of personal liability lawyers, but even if you do answer these advertisements you owe it to yourself to seek independent ratings, since they are now so accessible. Read them carefully and strive to separate the useful comments from the gratuitous reviews.
In dealing with the lawyer, make sure he or she explains fees and scope of service up front. Remember that all lawyers have competition, so if a lawyer seems to want too much for too little, you have every option to shop around. As with any professional, you will need to be as specific as possible in explaining your legal needs.
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