Lawyering Up? When You Need One and When You Don't

Lawyering Up? When You Need One and When You Don

If you're facing a legal conundrum, chances are that you've asked yourself whether you need a lawyer or not. This can be a tough decision, especially for those who are in tough financial situations or are worried about the competency of their court-appointed attorney. In this article, we'll break down some of the situations in which you need a lawyer and some in which you'll be alright handling it on your own. 

Criminal Charges

People should never try to tackle criminal legal cases against them on their own – there is simply too much at stake. Typical penalties for people convicted of crimes range from fines for minor traffic offenses to potentially decades in prison or even death in some states for more extreme crimes. However, with the right lawyer, you can negotiate plea deals for lower sentencing or get help in completely proving your innocence to the court.

The legal system is designed as a counterbalancing act between advocates (the defense) and opponents (the prosecution) to, theoretically, reach the truth in the courtroom. This balance does not work if the defendant is undefended with a competent legal team behind him or her. If you have been charged with a crime, seeking legal help is a must.

Workplace Injuries

Injuries on the job are common. Especially dangerous industries include construction, electrical work, and professional truck driving. However, even workers in relatively "safe" occupations that involve office work can be injured. In fact, the vast majority of workplace injuries happen in the office. Sickness, papercuts, sharp cornered desks and the antics of standing on chairs to reach the ceiling cause a great deal of problems for those working in the most benign of professions. For workers who have been hurt while on the clock, compensation lawyers can help recover funds lost from time out of work to make ends meet while you recover.

Many employers and their insurers take advantage of the knowledge gap that many workers have because of their inexperience in workplace injury law. Contacting a respected lawyer in the field can help ensure your rights are protected. This is especially important when faced with negligence on the part of your employer, where you were injured due to an unsafe workplace environment.


Many divorces are amicable – the spouses divide the property up equitably among each other, they separate, and may even remain in contact following the divorce as friends. It’s important to remember that no matter how you and your spouse feel, however, that you do not share a divorce attorney. This creates a conflict of interest that could cause problems later in the case. Rather, it’s better that you each have your own so that you have an advocate fully devoted to protecting your interests, so you are both equally represented and protected.

Other times, divorces can be nasty. Embittered partners often fight over finances and custody of children, with important long-term ramifications for all parties involved. In such situations, many people take their divorce into a family court. In these situations, your lawyer will be much more than just a representative of your interests. They will also be working to protect the wellbeing of your children in custody cases. 

Small Claims Court

Lawsuits involving petty sums of money do not require the services of an attorney. The cost of the law work would outweigh any potential benefit in terms of a more advantageous outcome. Most of these cases are dropped due to the failure of the other party to pay, and typically involve only a judge with no jury. These cases tend to be short and don’t require extensive legal knowledge for the most part. However, if you are being harassed with a series of extraneous lawsuits in small claims, you will want to hire a lawyer to bring the harassment to a close. Otherwise, you may end up getting pulled into court much more often than your work schedule will allow.

If you are facing a legal challenge where jail time or substantial amounts of money are on the line, then you need to hire a lawyer. In other situations, you can face the legal system on your own. While this isn’t a perfect guide to knowing which situation needs a lawyer, our tips here can give you a starting point to help you determine when it’s time to pay out for a private attorney rather than a court-appointed lawyer.


Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business, and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.
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