Some of the major reasons people consult a lawyer include:
When a lawsuit is filed against you, or when you want to start a lawsuit.
When you have been arrested or charged with a crime.
When you are buying or selling real estate.
When you are seeking or being served with a divorce.
When you are pursuing an adoption.
When you are signing a lease or contract.
When you need to draft a will.
When you have been injured, either on the job, in an accident, or because of a defective product.
Selecting an Attorney
It is important to select an attorney that can help with the specific
legal problem. Most lawyers practice in certain areas, and only take
cases in their practice areas.
The Iowa State Bar Association can help you locate a lawyer in your
area. Finding a lawyer can be as simple as asking friends, relatives or
co-workers for the names of lawyers they have used. But in many
instances, you may need help in locating the right kind of attorney in
The Iowa State Bar Association's Find-A-Lawyer Program can assist you
in your search.The service can supply you the name or names of lawyers
who are willing to consult and advise you at a discounted rate of no
more than $25 for the first 30 minutes. If further legal services on
your behalf are necessary, you may arrange for them at that time if you
wish. Visit www.iowafindalawyer.com.
An attorney that cannot help you may still be able to refer you to an
attorney or law firm that does handle your type of legal matter. If you
call a law office and learn they do not practice the type of law you
need help with, ask them if they can recommend another firm.
The primary considerations in selecting an attorney should be whether
you feel comfortable with the attorney and if you are confident that
the attorney is competent in the particular field of expertise. Some of
the questions below should be helpful to most individuals in selecting
an attorney include the following:
Has the attorney handled matters like this one before?
Does the attorney specialize in the area of law you need help with? (e.g. Corporations, Contracts, Domestic, Criminal, etc.)
Is there a charge for first time consultation?
How much does the attorney charge per hour?
Will the attorney require a retainer payment before providing services?
- How many hours does the attorney believe it would take to complete the task?
Does the attorney provide the client with a written contract or a
letter confirming employment? If so, ask to see an example.
Can the attorney explain to you what to expect and what issues will be generally involved in your case?
Do you feel comfortable being open and honest with the attorney?
Do you believe the attorney will be open and honest with you about your case?
When you select a lawyer you are hiring someone to perform a service for
you. Thus, you should be happy with the services provided. One of the
most important aspects of the attorney/client relationship is
communication. During your first visit with your lawyer, fees should be
discussed. In many cases, your lawyer will ask you to sign an attorney
fee contract which clearly states how much you will be charged per hour
for work done on your case and how much you will be charged for expenses
such as postage and faxes. An attorney fee contract is always a good
You have the right to expect complete confidentiality regarding anything you say to your lawyer and your lawyer’s staff.
Professional Ethics And Conduct
If you have a problem with your lawyer the problem can often be resolved
by discussing it directly with him or her. If direct discussion does
not resolve your problem, or if you believe your lawyer has acted
improperly or unethically, you may file a complaint with The Supreme
Court Attorney Disciplinary Board,111 E. Court Ave.,Des Moines, Iowa,
50309, or by calling 515-725-8017. The Committee will then investigate
the matter to determine whether or not the lawyer’s conduct has violated
the Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility.
Right to Discharge
You may discharge your lawyer at any time simply by informing him or her
of your wishes. You should give your lawyer adequate notice that you
will be changing lawyers because it may be necessary for that lawyer to
ask the court for permission to withdraw. Even if you discharge your
lawyer, you will still be obligated to pay for services performed on
An Attorney’s Right o Withdraw
Most attorneys will ask their clients to sign an attorney-client
agreement, setting forth billing information and an outline of what
services the attorney will provide. If you fail to abide by the terms of
your agreement, including making payment on your bill, an attorney can
ask the court for permission to withdraw from representing you. Common
situations when an attorney will ask to withdraw include:
You have the right to receive notice that your attorney has filed an
application to withdraw. The court will usually set a hearing on the
application to withdraw so that the client can fix the problem. However,
once your attorney has withdrawn or has permission from the court to
withdraw, he or she will no longer be involved in your case. You will be
responsible for finding a new attorney and for complying with all court
deadlines and court rules.
Failure on the part of the client to cooperate in the production of documents or court appearances;
Dishonest acts by the client;
A breakdown in attorney-client communications;
The conclusion of litigation; and
A violation of an attorney-client agreement, which may include an agreement to pay legal fees.