How can a regular person get an attorney when they need one? Lawyers charge a lot! Their fees can range from $100 an hour to $200 an hour in a rural area and small town, to $400 an hour in larger cities; especially if you are hiring from a larger firm, where there are more resources available to you. The average national billing rate is $284 an hour.
Most of the time you don’t even think about it, because most of the time we are not in legal trouble. If we are involved in a criminal situation we can get a public defender, for better or worse. But there are many times that having an attorney available would make all the difference, and yet we can not afford it. What if the laundromat ruins a valuable garment and doesn’t refund the money? What if we become one of the millions of Americans who have become behind on their mortgage or credit cards and have the creditors breathing down their neck? What are our rights? What if we have to go out on disability and wonder if we can make any money at all without breaking the law? It would help if we just had someone to tell us what our rights are, if we could just call a lawyer without breaking ourselves financially. And what if we just need a lawyer to write a letter for us? It is amazing how correspondence from a lawyer can change the attitude of some difficult people and companies, and if we are left without access to legal services we are out of luck.
What if we do not have a will? 55% of Americans will die without a will. This includes 52% of white Americans compared to 68% of African-Americans and 74% percent of Hispanics. Every American should have a will, but it appears that the lower percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics that have a will is due to less access to legal services. Unfortunately when you die without a will you are leaving your family to deal with practical headaches that could have been prevented, and to actually end up losing thousands of dollars. There are actually two problems that occur when you die without a will: you cause your family even more emotional turmoil at time when they are already suffering and the courts will have to appoint an administrator to dispose of your possessions, in a way that might be very much against your wishes.
What about a traffic ticket, or even worse a DUI? One little infraction, even something that does not hurt anyone can cause havoc in your life with huge fines. Even parking tickets can be ridiculously expensive. A lawyer can help.
What if the IRS is breathing down your neck? If you get into tax problems and you are not wealthy you can be in hot, hot water. The rich have all kinds of resources, but you are in trouble if you do not have access to a lawyer in times like this.
Most of us realize that it would be nice to have a lawyer available when times are really hard or even if you are doing alright but just don’t want to plunk down hundreds of dollars just to ask a legal question. Many people have been dismayed to find that their lawyers will charge them hourly for what they think is just casual conversation.