When faced with many options for hiring a lawyer, a Washington attorney is a sound decision for dealing with a legal issue within the state. The interaction between state and local laws is distinct and there are many statewide statutes that may affect your case. Trusting large, out of state law firms with your legal issues can be risky, especially when considering the dangers of claims in advertising and the risk that the large out of state firm will not be aware or interested of distinctions in the state laws that can work in your favor. A Washington attorney will generally be able to provide you with individualized attention as well as ease of communications and knowledge of the state legal code.
How are laws unique in Washington?
Bankruptcy exemptions are one example of how laws vary from state to state. Most states, including Washington allow for federal and state exemptions to be used in conjunction, necessitating a Washington attorney to handle your bankruptcy filing. The Washington Homestead exemption is $40,000 or unlimited if attempting to discharge debts for unpaid taxes on retirement benefits. This is significantly different that other state exemptions. Personal property exemptions include clothing, luxury items up to $1,000, motor vehicles for an individual up to $2,500, food and fuel, health aids and keepsakes. Most insurance, municipal pensions and public benefits will be exempt from the bankruptcy judgment. There is also a special “wild card” exemption that exempts $2,000 of personal property from the judgment.
What are organizations of Washington attorneys?
All Washington attorneys will be members of the Washington State Bar Association. WSBA has been an integrated bar since 1933 and is administered by the State Supreme Court as a regulatory body for lawyers. All Washington attorneys are admitted, licensed and disciplined through the WSBA.
Among the benefits for Washington attorneys, there are practice sections for specialized lawyers Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes that are priced to not compete with local and private CLE providers.
Like most bar associations, the WSBA also provides services such as ethics opinions, fee dispute resolution and a client protection fund in case of malpractice. There is also a lawyer assistance program to help members that face personal crisis that affect their professional practice. Those Washington attorneys with substance abuse and stress issues can use the services of this program.
How do I know my Washington attorney is legitimate?
The Washington State Bar Association is the fastest and easiest way to verify the credentials of your lawyer. Lawyer records are public and you will be able to ascertain the legitimacy of your Washington lawyer. You will be able to find all Seattle Lawyers in the directory. Membership is mandatory in the Washington State Bar and any Washington attorney who is not a member is not licensed to practice law in Washington.
Also, look for a history of legal malpractice cases against the lawyer, as this may be indicative of a larger problem the lawyer has with clients, even if the lawsuits were not successful. The disciplinary record is important when researching a potential lawyer to represent you.
The Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection is a fund administered by the WSBA that compensates clients for potential fraud and other breach of fiduciary duty by the Seattle attorney. This will provide you with some peace of mind when dealing with a lawyer. Still, be sure that you understand all arrangements you make with the Seattle attorney and get the fee agreement in writing. You will invariably have to submit irrefutable proof before you can expect to collect from the client security fund.
How do I find a Washington attorney?
The WSBA does not have its own lawyer referral service. Instead, those that need to find a Washington attorney will have to contact the following services or organizations:
- Seattle (King County) – King County Bar Association
- Spokane – Spokane County Bar Association
- Tacoma (Pierce County) - Spokane County Bar Association
- Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum Counties – Southwest Washington Lawyer Referral Service
The King County Lawyer Referral Service is certified by the ABA as a trusted referral service. You can be assured that these services will be low cost and vet their lawyers properly before referring them to potential clients.
Low income clients that require pro bono or reduced fee legal services may contact CLEAR, which is Washington’s intake, advice and referral service. It is toll free and easy to use and can help facilitate legal services to needy Washington residents. There are additional volunteer attorneys available to provide legal aid for home foreclosures.
You may use this website to find an attorney. To do so, use the search box on top of all pages. You may also compare attorneys and ask free questions by clicking Find Attorneys on top of the page.
What are the typical rates of a Washington attorney?
Factors affecting the Washington attorney rates are the lawyer’s experience, expertise, service provided and location.
For malpractice, personal injury or accident cases, a Washington attorney will usually work on contingency, unless the client indicates otherwise. Contingency arrangements will have the Washington attorney collect a percentage fee of the eventually jury award or settlement. Contingency fees may be limited by law or court decision.
There may still be fees for the initial consultation and court costs. Additionally, you may be able to receive legal services from Seattle attorneys in unbundled or in flat fees. In that way, you pay only for the services you need.
What are questions to ask Washington attorneys?
How does my case relate to Washington state and local laws?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Can I please have all fees in writing?
Are you an active member, in good standing, of the Washington State Bar Association?
What roles do you play as a member?
What are my chances of winning a settlement or at trial?
Can you refer me to another lawyer if you are unable to take my case?