Legal Services

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At one time or another we will all need some legal help. This page is a compilation of some of the many resources available.

  1. Legal Resources
    1. Small Claims Court
    2. Self-Help/Free Resources
    3. Attorneys and Law Firms
      1. Aviation
      2. Bankruptcy
      3. Business
      4. Civil Rights
      5. Criminal
      6. Employment
      7. Estate Planning and Probate: Wills, Trusts, Powers of Appointment, Health Care
      8. Family Law
      9. LGBT
      10. Immigration
      11. Injury
      12. Intellectual Property
      13. General Civil Litigation
      14. Real Estate
      15. Taxes
      16. Departed Firms

Legal Resources

Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court is a means for individuals to seek redress for their civil grievances without the costs of an attorney. In small claims actions, neither party may bring an attorney—you're representing yourself. In California, small claims court is only available for claims where no more than $7,500 is in dispute—although the court can award more than that as punitive damages. The winning party can also often recover the costs they incurred on the suit (e.g. the filing fee).

Self-Help/Free Resources

There are a lot of resources available to help you address your own legal problems at little or no cost. Bear in mind that the law is incredibly complex, and it's a big risk to represent yourself. On the other hand, attorneys are extremely expensive. If you're retaining a lawyer for a civil suit that you are filing, you will probably be looking at a contingency fee—rather than charging you on an hourly basis, the lawyer will keep typically between 30% and 40% of whatever you get out of the case. The advantage of this system is that the lawyer will usually foot all of the costs—filing fees, hiring mediators, process servers, yadda, yadda, so the case costs you nothing unless you win.

Attorneys and Law Firms

There are a lot of lawyers out there, some of them good, some of them not. It can be daunting, trying to pick one. The best way to find a good lawyer is through the California State Bar website — Legal Specialists search. Go to www.calbar.ca.gov, click on "Legal Specialists" on the left, and then under Consumers, click on "find a specialist." State Bar specialists must take and pass a difficult exam in their field of specialty, and must also keep updated in their field in order to maintain their certification. The next best way is to ask another lawyer in that particular field — perhaps a certified specialist from out of town. One can also look at "Super Lawyers" which is a peer recommended and vetted website. Finally, you can find a lawyer through word of mouth—if folks have had a good experience with a lawyer, that's sometimes a good sign, but peer recommendation is better. You can also look to a California Bar Association-approved referral service. They'll set you up with an initial consultation with a lawyer (in good standing with the bar association - though any lawyer can sign up for the referral service, competency is not a requirement) in your area who practices in the field of law you need. Different referral services have different fees, but a typical system is $30 for the referral, which will guaranteed you a 30-minute consult at no additional cost. After that, additional time with the lawyer will generally require you to sign a fee agreement.

As a general rule, stay away from lawyers who advertise on television or billboards.

Aviation

Bankruptcy

Business

Civil Rights

Criminal

Employment

Estate Planning and Probate: Wills, Trusts, Powers of Appointment, Health Care

Family Law

LGBT

Immigration

Injury

Intellectual Property

General Civil Litigation

Real Estate

Taxes

Departed Firms

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