Identify potential lawyers
There are several ways to identify lawyers that may be able to assist you:
- Ask a friend, especially one who has had a problem like yours, for the name of his or her lawyer
- Call or visit the website for the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS). The lawyer referred by LRIS will provide a 30-minute consultation for no more than $20. Telephone number: 1-800-252-9690
Create a short list of potential lawyers
Based on the lawyers identified using the above method(s), create a short list of potential lawyers who appear to have experience with your issue
Call the lawyer’s office and ask some preliminary questions
Before you make an appointment to see a lawyer, call the offices of the lawyers on your list. Find out with whom you are speaking, briefly explain your legal problem, and ask:
- Who will I be speaking with during the initial consultation?
- Does the lawyer charge for an initial consultation? If so, what is the charge?
- Does the lawyer have experience with my situation?
- What documents/information are needed for the initial consultation?
Set up an Initial Consultation
Based on the answers to these questions, call back to set up an initial consultation with the lawyer/representative whose answers satisfied you the most.
Initial Consultation and Preparation
In preparation for the consultation, it may be useful to have in mind the detailed facts of your situation as well as a list of questions for the lawyer/representative, such as:
- Are you specialized and/or experienced in my issue?
- Who will be handling my case?
- How, when, and how frequently will you/your representative update me on the progress of my case?
- What is the estimated time needed to complete my case?
- How will I be charged for the lawyer’s and/or representative’s services (flat, hourly, retainer, contingent)?
- What exactly is included and excluded in these fees?
- Does the lawyer provide a written agreement describing fees and services included for the fees?
Remember: you do not have to employ the lawyer with whom you are meeting. If you are not satisfied with a lawyer, do not hire him or her.
Decide on a lawyer
In deciding which lawyer to hire, you should consider:
- Do I have confidence that the lawyer will competently represent my best interests as allowed by the applicable laws and ethics provisions?
- Could I effectively communicate with the lawyer? Was the lawyer clear and easy to understand?
- Are fees reasonable and in line with other comparable lawyers’ charges?
- Did the lawyer give clear explanation on how I will be updated on the progress in my case, the fees, the strengths/ weaknesses/issues/challenges of my situation, and the typical progression/steps involved?
Legal Services for Students (limited to currently enrolled UT students)
Legal Services for Students is an excellent resource available to students at The University of Texas at Austin. Consultation and representation are available in the following areas:
- Landlord/Tenant and Renting
- Criminal Charges
- Traffic Tickets
- Consumer Issues
- Car Wrecks
- Employment Law
Legal Services for Students can be contacted at (512) 471-7796. You can also check their website.
If you cannot afford an attorney
The State Bar of Texas has a list of some helpful resources that may benefit you.
Visit the Texas State Law Library Self-Help webpage for useful links.
What if I have a problem with my lawyer?
If you believe your lawyer has not acted in your best interests and has thereby done something illegal or unethical, you may wish to file a grievance against your lawyer. In such circumstances, contact the State Bar of Texas in Austin at 1-800-932-1900.