Are There Places To Get Free Legal Advice?

If you’re lucky, you get to live most of your life without ever having to deal with the finer points of the law. Most citizens are fortunate enough to spend many of their years not having to deal with legal matters, but invariably, particularly in the adult years, things come up. Whether it be divorce proceedings, setting up a business, or protecting yourself from a potential liability matter, there are times you do need legal advice. If you’re in serious trouble, you might not be able to afford a lawyer, and so that leaves you wondering if there are places to get free legal advice.

Fortunately, there are not only places to get free legal advice, but they are all around you if you just look a little bit.

If you personally are friends or family with a lawyer, you might want to check with them first and foremost. While they are not going to dispense a lot of time or effort on you without you paying or being a client, most lawyers freely give their professional expertise and advice to those that they care about. So, if you are able, start there.

The second place to check is online. The Internet has a number of websites, including forums, where you can ask legal questions and get responses back. The downside here is that you can’t always tell if you’re getting great advice from an actual attorney, but there are reputable sources available. Also, the sheer convenience of this is unbeatable.

Third, check around your local community for legal aid offices. These are often funded by public governments to provide free legal assistance to those in need of representation that can’t afford it, although sometimes they are also staffed or assisted by career lawyers who want to do pro bono work.


3 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Do Pro Bono Work

The term known as “pro bono” is short for “pro bono publico”, which means when translated from Latin, “for the public good.” And when it comes to legal work, pro bono is something that is beneficial for the public indeed. This term refers to work done by a professional free of charge, usually for those who cannot pay for services. In this article, we will discuss three reasons why a lawyer should engage in pro bono work in order to truly help the public.

1. People Need Help

The first reason why a lawyer should do pro bono work is the fact that some individuals simply really need legal assistance that they otherwise could not receive. By choosing to work pro bono, a lawyer shows that his or her passion is to work for the greater good of the public, rather than solely focus on a paycheck.

2. Pro Bono Work is an Opportunity to Grow as a Lawyer

Regardless if you are being paid for your work or not, each and every case you take helps you grow as a lawyer when you gain experience and confidence. Choosing to accept pro bono work from time to time helps you use practice to make perfect.

3. You Can Connect With More People

When working pro bono, you have the opportunity to meet with people that you otherwise would not have met, and this can greatly boost your name and your reputation for other potential clients who need legal assistance.

In conclusion, a lawyer certainly needs to be paid for his or her work, but choosing to be charitable from time to time and accept pro bono cases can benefit not only the public but the attorney in question. While there are more than three reasons why a lawyer should consider doing pro bono work, these reasons alone show why working for the good of the public is an honorable thing to do.


Benefits of Automating Your Time

One part of your job as a legal professional, you are always looking for a way to make your law firm better. Improve its functionality, lower its costs (and thereby, increasing its profit), and quite possibly the single most valuable asset to improving the overall appeal of your firm is the streamlined use of technology. One way you may not have considered up to this point is how automated timekeeping could be one key to the very big door of success for your law firm.

Why automated timekeeping? What benefits could it offer that are so outstanding? For one, the benefit of automated timekeeping are just that – it’s automated. Automated timekeeping guarantees that your company will be paying for the right amount of time, every time. Whereas some companies could falter under and be hampered by the impracticality of human error, automation in your timekeeping almost literally removes the human element from the equation and the errors that could come as a result. As a side note, it also keeps the people of your company honest on their use of company time. Employees who might have made an unfortunate habit of being late may find themselves more driven to arrive on time or perhaps even early as a result of automated timekeeping and the inability to manipulate their own numbers.

Automated time-keeping is also a good way to increase work productivity, primarily by being able to measure more effectively how work is completed within a certain space of time. Working with clients on a close and personal level could very well lead to unnecessary distraction every so often, and glancing up at a clock is not the most reliable way to curb the impulse. Even if it is perceived as good from time to time, their time is still being spent – and not necessarily in the most productive way. Active timers help to keep you on point in your tasks, so you don’t ‘lose track of time’ when you are in the throes of research or note-taking or even during appointments.

The best feature of automated timekeeping is its convenience. In many cloud-based law practice management software packages, like Zola Suite, timekeepers and timekeeping programs are already included. They can allow you to keep track of multiple events at a time, all as far out as your fingertips need to reach along with everything else you might need. So, while you manage your time better by staying on task, you can also simultaneously manage your workload better by having all of the necessary files and contact information you will need to complete your tasks more effectively – all while resting with the assurances that your time-keeping and your billing are both correct.

There is always the pen-and-paper method for the more on-hands do-it-yourselfer. But, in the interest of being more organized as a legal professional, wouldn’t you rather have your own time-keeping device right on hand (and best of all, with the rest of your information and work tools) instead of looking for a wall clock from which you could follow time every time you go out on an appointment or case-related event?


Professional Pro Bono Work

If you hear the word pro bono you probably will think of a lawyer who provides free service for anyone who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. While it is true that this term typically applies to this type of legal work there are also other professionals who provide pro bono work. Pro bono is a Latin word that simply means a professional type of work that is done voluntarily and without payment. This is different than volunteerism because it is specifically for certain skills that a professional can provide.

For example, a doctor may have an office set up in a poorer part of a city where the people have very little. While he may charge for his services to the majority of his patients he will also provide pro bono, or free medical service, for any patient that cannot afford to pay. You will find also many doctors who spend some time in specific areas of the world providing a pro bono medical service. The recent devastation in certain countries such as Haiti is a good example of where you will find doctors doing pro bono work.

Another type of pro bono work may be done by a carpenter, electrician, plumber, or other tradesmen. They may devote a specific amount of their time helping to build a home or structure for someone less fortunate. You can see this type of work being done when rebuilding a dwelling because of fire. A building can easily be destroyed by fire because it is an older building without many of the more modern safety features such as smoke alarms or a water sprinklers.

The building may home the elderly or a group of homeless people who cannot afford to have the building rebuilt. This will provide an opportunity for a team of professional tradesmen to rebuild the dwelling at no cost to the residents. Anyone who does pro bono work whether it be a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, or a tradesman should be congratulated and held in high esteem for providing this type of humanitarian service.


What It Means When A Lawyer Says He Works On A Contingency Basis

Most attorneys offer their services at fix hourly price, and the rates can be high or low depending on the lawyer’s level of experience, the area of specialization, and reputation of winning cases. Rarely do advocates opt to offer their services on a contingency basis. But, there are unique instances when such an act may be necessary. For example, in cases where the attorney is sure of winning the client’s case seeking compensation for damages.

How Does The Contingency Basis Work?

An attorney who offers legal services on a contingency basis is one who accepts to represent a client even if the client does not have money to pay for the services before the case starts. A contingency basis representation is based on an agreement whereby the attorney gets paid a percentage of the client’s compensation or award if they win the case.

Therefore, the plaintiff will not have to pay the contingency fee up front. The lawyer often pays for the expenses of the case, which may include the filing fees, getting copies of police and medical reports, deposition fees, and other charges. The client and the attorney will append the contingency fee agreement that clearly states how the funds shall be dispersed after winning the case.

In retrospect, such representation is viewed to be a motivating factor for the attorney because the advocate will push to obtain the best settlement possible for the client. It is an approach that makes it possible for people to seek justice, more so those who could not afford to access the justice system.

However, some quarter within the justice system in some states have placed limits on the use of contingency fee agreements. The limits mitigate the chances of attorneys who offer their services on contingency basis charging excessive fees or pushing for exorbitant settlements for their clients just to get a fat cut of the compensation.


What Is Pro Bono?

The term “pro bono” comes up from time to time in the legal world and it is good to know as much as you can about it.

The premise is simple.

The goal is to help those who might not be able to pay for certain work. It is generally seen in the legal world because many people can’t afford to defend themselves in the court of law unless someone takes up a “pro bono” case.

Here is more on what it is all about and why it is important in the legal world.

Helps Defend Rights of Low-Income Citizens

There are millions of people who can’t afford to spend money on a lawyer to defend their rights. So, what do they end up doing? They refuse to go to the court of law even if they have a legitimate case against the accused.

This is where a legal firm comes in and takes up the case for free.

The client gets legal representation in the court of law without having to pay a dime. This is one of the biggest benefits of legal firms providing this option to cases that require it.

Benefits for Firm

So, why do legal firms go down this path? What are they getting from providing free service to anyone?

The premise is to create goodwill in the community and give back to those who require it. This is something all legal firms participate in because it sends the right message as they’re a part of the community too.

Pro bono cases are seen in all parts of the world and in all types of courts. They’re not restricted to one type because low-income individuals require services in all facets of life in court.

This is why legal firms continue to offer this option to those who need it the most.


Win The Disability Benefits That You Deserve By Understanding The Appeals Process

Many people go through the process to apply for Social Security disability benefits and get denied the first time. If this has happened to you, there is still hope because you can appeal the decision. There are four main levels of an appeal that you need to understand to increase the likelihood successfully overturning a denial of benefits.

In most states, you’ll begin the process with a formal request for reconsideration as soon as you’ve received your denial. Some states skip right to the second level of an appeal, the hearing stage. In either case, your denial letter will supply the information that you need to begin the process. There is about a 5 to 10 percent chance that your appeal will be granted at this level.

Your next step is to request a hearing within 60 days of the denial of your first appeal. The hearing, which you’ll need to be present for, will take place before an administrative law judge. Statistically, administrative law judges grant about 67% of the claims that come before them.

If you are one of the unfortunate ones that lose at their disability hearing, your next step will be to request that the Appeals Council review your case. It’s highly unlikely that the denial will be successfully reversed at this level.

The final step is to appeal the decision to the U.S. District Court. If you don’t have an attorney, it is highly recommended that you hire one for this step. The court usually only reviews cases for legal errors, but sometimes will also consider factual errors. Your likelihood of successfully appealing a denial of benefits at this level is about 33%.

Understanding what to expect is the first step to successfully appealing a denial of your disability benefits. An experienced social security disability lawyer is able to assist you at any level of appeal, and will further increase the likelihood of winning the benefits that you deserve.


How To Tell Your Kids You’re Getting Divorced

If you and your spouse have decided that you are going to get a divorce, but you do not know how to tell your children, it’s probably because it’s not a very easy thing to do. From the perspective of the child, the family unit is everything, and when that breaks apart, they are in a world of turmoil. It’s even worse when one parent, or even both, try to get the children to take sides. Children should never be placed in this situation. Unfortunately, it does happen and there are ways that you can tell your children initially what is going on and that you will soon be divorced from each other.

Best Tips When Telling Your Kids You Are Getting A Divorce

The very first thing that you should do is have a meeting with your kids. This will include both of you. This is a meeting that should not have any information about specifically why you are getting a divorce, but they do need to have a reason. They may have already known that things were getting rough based upon arguments that may have been escalating. However, it still needs to be talked about in a specific way. By having this meeting where both of you expressed why it is that you are getting a divorce, and why this is better for the family, you can ease the tension in the household and also make the transition a little bit easier.

Things To Never Say When You Tell Your Kids About Your Divorce

There are a couple things that should never be said during this meeting. First and foremost, neither spouse is to place blame on the other. It needs to be a mutual decision, one that is expressed in a very logical manner, not one full of emotion. Second, the children should never be asked what they think about this from the perspective that one person is more right than the other. If they do ask questions, you can answer them, but try to do so as neutrally as possible so as to limit the pain-and-suffering that is to follow.

These basic tips on how to tell your kids you are getting a divorce will make it easier on them. It simply a decision that is going to cause them a lot of pain. By doing this in the way that was described there should be a minimization of the initial pain that they feel once this is explained.


Determination Of Child Support

The federal government has come up with a few mandates that should be used to establish predictable and consistent awards when it comes to child support. Here are some of the categories that are used in the determination of child support.

• Income And Deductions

The income of both parents is taken into consideration. The amount that each parent contributes to the household will be used to determine the amount to be paid in child support. The gross or net income can be used depending on the specific state.

On the other hand, the income is subject to some deductions. For instance, if one of the parents is paying alimony or child support from a previous situation, the amount is deducted from the income. Of course, these deductions need to be court ordered rather than voluntary and they must actually have been paid.

• Health Expenses

The child support mandate needs to identify the specific parents who should be taking care of the health insurance payments for the children. If there are any extraordinary medical expenses, they will be considered as well. There are some guidelines in place, especially if there are any out of the pocket payments that must be made for the child’s health. The amount paid for health care is added to that of child support and credited to the parent responsible for paying it.

• Visitation And Custody Agreements

In determining child support amounts, the guidelines also take into account the custody or visitation agreements in place. A parent with more custody rights will pay less child support. Shared visitation and custody are also considered since it will be less than a case with sole custody and little or no visitation.

A court is always the best way to decide any extenuating factors that determine the overall child support payments, for more information contact a lawyer.


Should I Get A Prenuptial Agreement?

Are you deciding on whether or not to sign a prenuptial agreement? Well, each circumstance is unique, so don’t sign it just because your friend, acquaintance or relative signed one. Here are some pros and cons that you should help you decide.

Pros
• Each spouse’s property before marriage will be properly documented separately for protection.
• In the event of a divorce, the prenuptial agreement suffices as an estate plan that allows ample property distribution.
• The agreement details any special agreements between the couple
• The document reduces any conflicts during divorce proceedings as well as being cost-efficient since it reduces the time used to distribute property between the two individuals.
• In the event of any debt liability such as mortgages, credit cards or school loans, the prenuptial agreement establishes the right procedures to be followed.
• People always change and relationships can crumble any time. If you have a prenuptial agreement ready in hand, you can always save yourself the trouble of going through a nasty and expensive divorce. Regardless of whether or not you’re in marital bliss right now, you should be prepared for anything and that’s why the document comes in handy.

Cons

• Regardless of whether child custody or support has been mentioned in the prenuptial agreement, the court has the final say on what happens. Therefore, the document will only provide procedures of dealing with assets but not the children.
• Discussing what to do in the event of a divorce before the marriage starts can be a bad omen. The first years, a married couple is supposed to enjoy marital bliss without thinking whether the spouse will leave any debt or take away any property. Therefore, to most people, signing a prenuptial agreement might be a sign of bad luck in the marriage.
With these pros and cons, you should weigh on your particular circumstance and decide whether you should sign a prenuptial agreement or not.