Chapter 6: Lawyers

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Chapter 6: Lawyers
Mr. Weiss
Street Law
Breakdown of Lawyers:
65% Private practices (criminal, civil, family,
environmental, etc.)
15% Government lawyers who work for federal,
state, or local agencies
15% Corporations, unions, or trade associations
Smaller # Public interest or legal aid
organizations
Even smaller # Law professors, judges, or elected
officials
Lawyers
Most lawyers rarely go to court
Instead give advice, drafting legal opinions,
negotiating settlements, or provide out-of-court legal
advice.
Lawyers that do go to court are called litigators
In civil cases lawyers are advocates for their client
 In criminal cases lawyer of the defendant does
everything possible (without breaking the code of
professional ethics) to secure the release and acquittal of
his/her client.

When do you need a lawyer?
Majority opinion: When you get into trouble
Best option see one before the problem arises
You should see a lawyer if…







You are buying or selling a home or other real estate
Organizing a business
Changing your family status (divorce, separation, adoption, child
custody, etc.)
Making a will or planning an estate
Signing a large or important contract
Handling accidents involving injury or property damage
Defending a criminal charge or bringing a law suit
How do you decide when you
need a lawyer?
You need a lawyer…



If a question of law is involved
If a legal document needs to be drawn up or analyzed (ex. will)
If you are involved in a court case
When do you not need a lawyer?


Using someone in a small claims court
Minor marriage issues can be solved by seeing a a marriage
counselor or mediator
A bar association (organization of license lawyers) and other
groups have services to help you decide if you need a
lawyer.

Majority of these are free or have a small fee
Decide whether you need an
attorney or not
1.
2.
3.
4.
You hit another car in a parking lot. Your insurance
agent indicates that the company will pay for bodily
injury and property damage.
You borrow a friend’s car without his knowledge,
and he reports it to the police as stolen.
You buy a new stereo for $300. One month later, the
receiver and speakers blow out. You return to the
store, and the salesperson tells you that they are
sorry but their stereos have only a two-week
guarantee.
You decide to trade in your old car and buy a new
one.
Need an attorney? (cont.)
5. Two friends are caught robbing a local store, and they
name you as one who helped plan the robbery.
6. You are turned down when you apply for a job. You
think you were rejected because you are deaf.
7. You do not want your family to inherit the $10,000 you
have saved. You are told that you are going to die
within a year and you want the money to be used for
cancer research.
8. You and your spouse find you can no longer get along.
You want a divorce.
9. You earn $5,000 working in a restaurant during the
year. You want to file your federal income tax return.
How do you find a lawyer?
Make sure you find a lawyer that is right for you and
your situation.
Ask someone with a similar situation for their
lawyers name if they were satisfied with the
outcome
Ask your employer, members of the clergy,
business-people, or other professionals for the name
of a lawyer that they trust
Go to the bar association or a lawyer referral service
How do you find a lawyer (cont.)
Go to the yellow pages or Google and look for
“lawyers”
Go to the public library and look in MartinadeHubble Law Directory which lists most of the
lawyers in the U.S.

Provided education, professional honors, and types of
cases they handle
Look on t.v., listen to the radio, look in
newspapers/magazines, or billboards for
advertisements
Other Notes
If you are unable to afford a lawyer you can be eligible for
free legal advice at a legal aid, legal service, or public
defender’s office
You need to ask for an estimate of the total charge when you
see a lawyer

Does your lawyer charge by the hour or is it a flat fee?
Find out if the lawyer had ever handled this type of case
before and if so what were the results
Find out who else will be working on the case, what each
person charges an hour, and how often you will be billed
Lawyer Fees
Most lawyers require a retainer down payment on the
total fee
You might be charged for court costs, filing fees, or other
expenses
Contingency fee this is the percentage of what the client
wins in a case. Lawyers will charge this instead of an
hourly fee or flat sum


Client pays nothing except expenses if the case is lost
Most common in personal injury cases in which money damages
are being sought
A typical contingency fee is 1/3 of the amount awarded to
the client

Can be as high as 40 % (and sometimes higher)
Working with your attorney
Attorney-client relationship is often based on oral
agreements

Best to have things in writing!!!
See if your case is of interest to the following groups
which will often represent you for free
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
 National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP)
 American Conservative Union (ACU)

Working with your attorney
(cont.)
You need to be able to trust your lawyer because your
lawyer needs to know everything about your problem

Attorney-client privilege whatever you say to your attorney is
secret and confidential and the information can not be disclosed to
anyone without your permission
If you are not satisfied you may discharge your lawyer.
However, if you are in court you must have a good reason to
give to the judge
Lawyers must follow the Code of Professional
Responsibility which is enforced by the state bar association
Code of Professional Responsibility
Canon 1: A lawyer should assist in maintaining the integrity
and competence of the legal profession
Canon 2: A lawyer should assist the legal profession in
fulfilling its duty to make legal counsel available
Canon 3: A lawyer should assist in preventing the
unauthorized practice of law
Canon 4: A lawyer should preserve the confidences and
secrets of a client
Canon 5: A lawyer should exercise independent
professional judgment on behalf of a client.
Code of Professional Responsibility
Canon 6: A lawyer should represent a client
completely.
Canon 7: A lawyer should represent a client
zealously within the bounds of the law
Canon 8: A lawyer should assist in improving the
legal system
Canon 9: A lawyer should avoid the appearance of
professional impropriety.
Other Notes:
A lawyer must pass an examination to become a
member of a state bar
Lawyers can be disbarred (no longer has a license to
practice law) who violate the standards of conduct
If you have issues with your lawyer, you can report
the problem to your local or state bar association
You can sue your lawyer for legal malpractice for
serious errors that result in injury or loss.
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