Navigating the Judicial System

Unless you’ve been to law school it is unlikely that you are intimately familiar with the American judicial system. You probably have a grasp of the basics; television and movies make some processes relatively well known. However, unless you have ever sued a person or entity, or been sued yourself, most of what goes on in the legal world probably seems both confusing and complex.

The reality is that the judicial system is fairly complex, which is why attorneys are trained to help their clients navigate these often murky waters. Having an experienced lawyer at your side to act as your advocate and explain the various processes to you can be immensely reassuring and also guarantee that your rights are protected.

Most people have never hired an attorney for any purpose and therefore are unfamiliar with how the process works. Circumstances will differ depending upon the type of work for which you require the attorney’s assistance. A few generalizations can still be made, however. Most attorneys are willing to offer a free initial consultation. This allows the potential client to meet with an attorney to outline their reasons for seeking legal counsel. Perhaps they are getting a divorce or fighting a traffic ticket. Maybe they want to form a corporation or are seeking compensation from injuries sustained through an on the job accident. Lawyers who are not in general practice typically have an area of specialization. Consequently it is important to find an attorney who has experience in the area of law that concerns you.

After the initial consultation the attorney will typically charge their clients by the hour. Hourly rates can vary greatly from one attorney to the next. These rates are typically based on the attorney’s experience – the more experienced they are the higher their hourly rate is likely to be. Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate that may be well beyond what you feel comfortable paying, but you may find an attorney at a smaller firm or with less experience that is nonetheless eager to help and charges a rate that is more realistic for your financial situation. Some cases are taken on a contingency basis, meaning that the client pays little or no fees unless and until they are paid by the other party at the conclusion of the case. This can be advantageous for the cash-strapped client, but only a very few cases are taken on contingency.

Selecting an attorney to assist you with a judicial matter goes beyond finding a lawyer whose fees seem reasonable. Depending upon the matter for which you are seeking assistance you may be working with this attorney for months or even years. It is important that you feel your attorney listens to you and understands your concerns and goals. Your attorney should also be able to communicate clearly and concisely and be willing to explain terms and processes with which you are unfamiliar. The lawyer you hire should also be available and responsive. It is unrealistic to expect that your lawyer will be available to you every time you call, but you should be able to count upon the relatively prompt return of your phone calls and emails.

Most importantly, your attorney should be your advocate and should be willing to efficiently and effectively complete work on your behalf. Occasionally you’ll present an attorney with a matter that only requires the drawing up of one document or the sending of one letter in order to resolve the situation. It can be amazing how quickly a simple letter from a law firm can make a nuisance problem disappear! However, if your situation is more complicated than that it is important to feel that your lawyer is staunchly behind you and that he or she can outline several possible scenarios for how to proceed with your case.

The American judicial system is widely considered to be one of the best in the world. It is a complex system and one that does not always function perfectly. Even a truly great attorney cannot guarantee the outcome of any case. They may make recommendations based upon their experience, but they cannot always predict what the other side will offer, what a jury will decide or what a judge may decree. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that you have a knowledgeable partner in your legal endeavor and that your rights as a citizen are being protected.

Whether you need to hire an attorney to draw up your will or to help you launch a new business enterprise, understanding some part of the judicial system and how to find a reliable attorney are important first steps to making a success of your venture. The system works to protect the rights of every citizen with fair and impartial judgment and sound decision-making.

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