Maryland, like many other states, has its own laws, in addition to federal and local laws. As such, a Maryland attorney familiar with Maryland laws will be exceptionally suited to deal with your legal issue. Laws may differ in Maryland and some laws may even conflict with state or local law. It is, for example, illegal to carry certain types of guns within the city limits of Baltimore. This is just one example of how the intersection of federal, state and local laws may create a legal dilemma that only a Maryland attorney can help you navigate. Be attentive and understand your needs before retaining the services of any legal professional. Also, ensure that you receive the fee arrangement in writing in case you will later need to dispute the charges and enter fee dispute resolution.
Why would I need a Maryland attorney?
As laws vary from state to state, a person that is not sure of the legality of their actions may want to consult a local lawyer. For instance, in difficult custody cases, if the spouse with the child residing in Maryland leaves the state, or a person residing out of state enters Maryland, the other spouse may want to consult with a Maryland attorney specializing in family law to determine his or her rights and the custodial rights to the child under Maryland law.
What is the Maryland State Bar Association?
The MSBA is the primary organization for Maryland attorneys and enables its membership to improve their professional habits, network with other legal professionals and remain up to date on changes to the state and local legal codes. Membership in the bar association is not mandatory, but bolsters a lawyer’s credentials significantly.
The Maryland Lawyer’s Manual is a comprehensive lawyer and judge directory that serves as a resource for Maryland residents. The MSBA also publishes the Maryland Bar Journal that keeps Maryland lawyers up to date on legal developments in the state and also offers legal onions and a classifieds section with advertisement for services that would interest legal practices. The Maryland Bar Journal is similar to other bar association journals published in other states, but is of course, dedicated to Maryland.
Young lawyers and budding private practice Maryland attorneys will benefit from MSBA membership with a number of programs dedicated to their needs. Specifically, the MSBA targets lawyers with poor professional habits, addiction or poor law office management. Law students and others that are not yet lawyers may apply for an associate membership where they will be able to attend important networking event as well as access job postings maintained by the MSBA and its members.
There is also a dedicated ethics hotline that Maryland lawyers may use to help them evaluate dilemmas such as conflicts of interest, disputes and potential issues with their client.
How do I find a Maryland attorney?
You may use this website to find a Maryland attorney, by using the Find Attorneys option at the top of the page.
You may also use the MSBA Member Directory to find a Maryland attorney. There is a multitude of ways to search the database and each entry will contain vital information, such as address, contact information and date admitted to the bar. You can also find Maryland attorneys sorted by specialty, for your specific needs. Not all bar associations have this feature, yet this will be exceedingly useful for the typical individual seeking a lawyer.
The Maryland courts system maintains a referral service to advise individuals and refer them to a proper legal representative. A fee of $35 may be involved, but this can by bypasses by filling out and having a waiver approved. Most states will run lawyer referral service through the state Bar Association, making Maryland a somewhat unique case. Other referral services will direct you to state and local law associations, depending on the county. You may use these local referral services for a more focused search if you require it.
Evaluating experience and credentials
Although membership in the MSBA is not mandatory, proof of membership legitimizes practicing attorneys as ethical professionals in good standing as membership is otherwise not allowed for unscrupulous lawyers. If the attorney does not have admission to the state bar association, you should examine his or her credentials.
If you are conducting an independent review of the Maryland attorney’s credentials, ensure that the law degree is from an accredited law school and that the lawyer has evidence of admission to the state bar. If you do not receive proof of the lawyer being active and in good standing, it would be best to consider the services of another attorney. Although the unauthorized practice of law is heavily regulated and mechanisms are in place to prevent such an incident, accepting legal services from an unregistered lawyer is not recommended and the product of those services, such as a legal document, may be inadmissible or suspect.
What are the typical rates of a Maryland attorney?
Most personal injury lawyers will offer a free initial consultation to assess the case and determine the possible fees. Here is where fees may be adjusted to suit the needs of the client. For all other non-litigation cases, you may be charged hourly or flat fees, depending on the service you require. Be aware that many attorneys will require a billable retainer account to perform legal services. This account is refilled at the discretion of the lawyer.
There are not current limitations on the contingency fees that Maryland attorneys may charge, although this is always subject to change. Laws defining attorney conduct and fee arrangements are debated somewhat regularly in state governments, particularly with a move towards tort reform and cutting down on personal injury cases. Check with your Maryland attorney about new limitations and restrictions that may affect your case.
What are questions to ask Maryland attorneys?
How does my case relate to Maryland laws?
Is my case modified by local statutes that preempt state regulations?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Have you been disciplined for unethical behavior, such as conflicts of interest?
Are you a member, in good standing, of the Maryland Bar Association?
What roles do you play as a member?
Can I please have all fees in writing?
What are my chances of winning a settlement or at trial?