Sometimes, it’s obvious when you should lawyer up. Employment issues, landlord disputes, and catastrophic injury are all good reasons to get in touch with an attorney, but they’re far from the only ones. There are plenty of situations that you may not even know require legal expertise – scenarios where having a lawyer in your court is very much in your best interests.
There are some situations where the need for an attorney is glaringly obvious. Criminal charges. Lawsuits. Personal injury. Severe civil disputes.
It’s pretty clear even to someone with only a cursory understanding that lawyering up is in their best interest there.
Thing is, real life is rarely so black and white. There are plenty of situations which most people don’t bother seeking legal representation, mostly because they don’t realize the need for it. They don’t understand that even if they can manage without a lawyer, that doesn’t mean they should.
Today, I’d like to discuss three of the most egregious – three scenarios where, time and again, I see people landing themselves in hot water because they tried going it alone.
Real Estate Transactions
It’s a little baffling how often I’ve seen real estate deals go through without the presence of a lawyer. Granted, some states don’t require an attorney to be present for or involved in such transactions. But even if you live in such a state, I would strongly advise you to seek legal representation for the vast majority of real estate deals.
There’s only one exception to this – you probably don’t need to bring a lawyer in for a simple tenancy/rental agreement (unless you think there’s something fishy about the contract). For everything else, from commercial real estate purchases to mortgage agreements, bring in an expert. You’ll likely regret it if you don’t.
You’d think it would be fairly obvious that an attorney is a necessary component in negotiating any kind of contract. Evidently, it’s not. While you probably don’t require the presence of a lawyer every time you hand a contract out to a new employee or client, you do need to get one involved in the drafting and reviewing process – it’s imperative that you ensure your contract doesn’t contain any unenforceable terms, lest the entire contract be rendered void.
It also may be worth your time to bring a contract you’ve been asked to sign to an attorney of your own if you aren’t certain about the terms it contains, both for your own peace of mind and to ensure you aren’t being played for a fool.
Whenever You Feel Like You’re In Over Your Head
There are plenty of occasions where you’re more than comfortable dealing with things yourself – administering to someone’s estate, managing your own business, minor traffic violations, and so on. Basic stuff where an attorney would amount to little more than wasted time, money, and effort. At the same time, it’s important that you understand the limits of your own knowledge and expertise.
If you’re managing an organization that consists of multiple entities, adopting a child, or administering a large estate, it’s usually best to contact an attorney. Same deal if you’re facing a complex divorce or dealing with someone who’s hired an attorney themselves. These are situations where pretty much everyone should lawyer up.
Thing is, everyone’s got a different threshold for stress, and everyone has a certain level of complexity they feel comfortable dealing with. It’s important to recognize when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed – because a skilled attorney can pick up the slack for you.
There Are Times When A Lawyer Is The Wrong Choice, Too
I’d like to close with one final thought: just as there are plenty of scenarios where the need for a lawyer may not be obvious, there are also situations where hiring an attorney isn’t the right call. It’s highly unlikely you need to contact an expert for a minor dispute in small claims court, for example. And you should never try to drag someone to court as a ‘matter of principle.’
The law isn’t about principle – it’s about justice.