Tips on Hiring and Working with Lawyers

So you need a lawyer? Here are some tips that will help you manage the process, from start to finish.

Updated by , Attorney University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Updated 8/31/2023

Lawyers 101 - The Basics

A healthy attorney-client relationship is paramount when you're involved in a legal dispute, and most clients who participate actively in resolving their legal problems are more satisfied with the results. Here you'll find information that will help you hire and work with an attorney.

When Do You Need a Lawyer?

When you have a legal problem, you need information. Legal books written for nonlawyers, as well as online websites, are an excellent place to start. Bar associations and nonprofit public interest groups often publish useful information that allows you to educate yourself on the law, too.

But as it happens, not all questions are answered by do-it-yourself materials, especially when you want individual advice tailored to your situation or the legal matter is particularly complex. That's when it's time to see a lawyer. Lawyers can give strategic advice, research legal issues, and advocate on your behalf.

How Much Help Do You Need from an Attorney?

One way to work with a lawyer is to turn over your entire legal issue and rely on the lawyer to handle things. If you've been putting something off—say you've meant to set up a trust for your grandchildren, you need to clean up old debts through bankruptcy, or your legal problem is especially upsetting, like a nasty lawsuit—hiring an attorney to handle everything can be just what you need. There's no denying that putting a troublesome problem in a trusted expert's hands can be a huge relief.

But, maybe you need some advice or a little coaching so that you can handle some of the legal matters on your own. Many lawyers are open to providing limited help—reviewing documents or researching a particular issue, for example. To find attorneys who do this, just review attorneys' profiles: Nolo asks lawyers to indicate whether they're willing to coach clients or review client-prepared documents.

Help When Hiring or Working With a Lawyer

Start here to learn about finding the right lawyer, managing the cost, and handling issues that may come up.