A traffic ticket is a legal matter. So is armed robbery. Obviously, the “accused” in both of these instances have very different situations and only one will need a lawyer to hand their defense. In between these two extremes, however, are a myriad of legal matters which may or may not require legal representation. It’s a good idea to know in which instances you should get a lawyer — and the ones where you don’t need one. I need a lawyer.
Two Legal Categories – A Short Explanation
Civil Law: This area of law covers all legal issues that do not involve criminal activity or breaking the law. Generally, one party sues another because they have been “wronged” in some way and want some type of compensation for that “wrong.” Civil law also covers legal agreements, real estate transactions, divorces, child custody, and other matters where legal paperwork is necessary to protect all parties involved.
Criminal Law: This area of law relates to offenses that break the laws of a local, state, or federal governments. The prosecution is handled by lawyers employed by the governmental entity, and the defense is handled by either a publicly appointed defender or a private defense attorney whom the defendant pays. In criminal law, there are misdemeanors (small offenses) and felonies (more serious crimes).
If you find yourself facing the legal system for any reason, you should probably understand that the best policy is usually to at least consult with an attorney – an honest one will provide a free consultation. They will tell you whether you will need an attorney and will either take your case or point in the direction of a lawyer who can best represent you. If the attorney takes your case, the fee will be approximated up front. In general, however, the following guidelines apply:
When You Should Get Legal Advice
1. A Complex or Nasty Divorce
When couples mutually agree on all of the details of a split, there is no real need for a lawyer. When, however, there are issues of property, investments, savings, support, debt, and child custody arrangements, only a fool neglects getting legal representation. The terms of a finalized divorce are very binding, and they can only be changed by going back to court. All of this can be avoided with a good lawyer up front.
2. A Wrongful Termination or Discrimination in the Workplace
There are both state and federal laws at play here, and the average person does not understand them. Only an attorney who specializes in this type of law is really qualified to carry your suit into court. You can be certain that the other side will have very solid legal representation. You should too.
3. Law Suits
If you are being sued and the consequences of a loss may result in the loss of a good deal of money or property, you need a lawyer. Again, the other side has a lawyer, so you need to get one too. Most of these things are settled out of court, but you want an experienced negotiator on your side.
Driving under the influence (DUI) has become a serious charge. Consequences can include fines, jail time, loss of license, or any combination of these three. A good lawyer can meet with the prosecutor and get the charges reduced, especially if this is your first offense. Never go to court on a DUI charge without a lawyer — unless you are willing to accept the maximum penalty.
5. Drug Charges
Defendants who have personally hired attorneys always fare better than those who do not or those who take a public defender. Remember, a public defender is on case overload, and will usually recommend a plea bargain that will be worse than what a private attorney could get you. If you qualify financially for a public defender, still try to find a friend or relative willing to pony up the money for a lawyer.
6. A Car Accident with Injury
If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, the other guy’s insurance company will be all over you to settle your claim as quickly as possible. Don’t do it. In fact, never talk to an insurance company representative until you have first consulted a personal injury attorney. You may not be familiar with the laws or the normal compensation rates, but seasoned attorneys are. If you are injured in car accident, don’t talk to anyone except to answer cursory questions from the police on the scene.
7. Criminal Charges
Facing any criminal charge is scary, and you may not even know your rights as an accused person. Get a lawyer immediately for protection of your rights and so that you are defended as well as possible — guilty or not.
8. Wills and Trusts
Save your family from disputes and legal issues after you die. Set up your will or trust with a reputable attorney well in advance. Your first will should be set up as soon as you have a child and should be changed periodically throughout your life as circumstances change.
9. Business Startups
Whether you are going it alone, have a partner, or are setting up a corporation, never try to navigate all of the legal requirements alone. You need to be lawful and you need to be protected. Only a lawyer who specializes in business law can ensure these things.
10. Denial of Workmen’s Comp or Disability Claim
It is often the policy of such institutions to deny a claim the first time around. This is because they know a certain percentage of people will simply accept that ruling and give up. Don’t be one of those people. Get a lawyer up front – they will take the fee out of the settlement, so there are no up-front costs.
You can’t get one without a lawyer, and they will want payment up front.
When You Don’t Need a Lawyer
There are really very few legal situations in which you will not need a lawyer, but here are a few:
1. Small Claims Court
This court is reserved for civil disputes that do not involve large sums of money, the cap being determined by individual states. Normally, this is an informal procedure – both sides tell their stories and the judge decides.
2. Traffic Tickets
Pay the fine and get over it. The only exception to this general rule is if the ticket will put enough points on your license to cause a suspension or if the offense is serious enough that your insurance rates will skyrocket. In these situations, a lawyer can get the ticket reduced to a non-moving offense and the only consequence will be a fine. Yes, our legal system does respond to one’s ability to pay.
3. Lawsuits That You Do Not Want to Contest
If someone is suing you and you know in advance what they are asking for and are willing to pay the amount, you can simply plead no contest, appear in court without an attorney, or not appear at all. If you don’t appear, a summary judgment will be issued against you.
Last Updated on April 3, 2019
Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.
By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.
This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.
Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.
1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible
This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.
It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.
Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.
Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.
My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.
Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.
2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least
You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.
Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.
If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.
3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts
This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.
It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.
4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra
Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.
This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.
For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.
Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.
5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use
If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.
Lawyer job outlook 2020
In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.
6. Get Aggressive About It
Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.
Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.
Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.
Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.
7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals
Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.
By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.
Finally (and most importantly)…
8. Keep Trying
Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.
Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.
Start Knocking out Your Debt Today
The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.