Finding a lawyer in the nation’s capital is easy due to a number of professional organizations and a unified bar association. You will need a Washington DC attorney for a number of legal issues and local legal representation will be necessary for most cases. Even federal issues benefit from having a local lawyer as that specialized Washington DC attorney will have the knowledge and professional links necessary to help you achieve a successful outcome for your case.
How do professional relationships help my legal matter?
The professional relationships between lawyers and other legal professionals is an often understated factor in legal matters. In divorce issues for instance, if two lawyers are used to working with each other, they will be comfortable negotiating during a divorce settlement and will facilitate the process smoothly and without animosity. This contrasts greatly with lawyers that are adversaries that will attempt to best the other lawyer, without regard for the needs of either client. Other benefits of these professional links are lawyer to lawyer referrals and referrals to services that may help the client such as expert witnesses, forensic document services and copy services. Professional relationships are cultivated through bar associations and other groups that provide networking and other services.
What are organizations of Washington DC attorneys?
The DC Bar is the mandatory regulatory organization for Washington DC attorneys. It provides Continuing Legal Education classes, practice sections and an ethics/discipline enforcement mechanism. The DC Bar also helps to facilitate pro bono services, which helps the neediest of DC residents with their legal issues. Washington DC attorneys will have the benefits of the fast case legal research tool to help them build a case for their client.
The Bar Association of the District of Columbia is a voluntary organization of Washington DC attorneys that provides professional networking and promotes “civility, justice and collegiality among members of the legal profession in the nation's capital.” This organization also has sectional membership and awards some of the best members of the Bar. Publications of the BADC include practice manuals, practitioner's handbooks and law firm management resources. The BADC provides the only Lawyer Referral Service for Washington DC attorneys and these lawyers may join the services as long as they pay the requisite fees and have malpractice insurance.
Additional bar associations in DC include the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia (WBADC), The South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC and the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
How do I know my Washington DC attorney is legitimate?
All individuals that practice law in Washington DC must be active members of the integrated DC Bar Association. If you are suspicious of your Washington DC attorney, ask to see proof of active membership in the DC Bar. Even if you do not need this lawyer to represent you in court, any legal services you accept from an inactive or unlicensed lawyer will be suspect and possibly invalid. When seeking a Washington DC attorney, you will want the best and most reliable advice related to your case, and as such, you must retrain the services of an active and certified Washington DC attorney.
You must also be comfortable working with your Washington DC attorney. Make sure that you can communicate with this lawyer effectively and that the lawyer is available in the event that you have questions or concerns. Although some lawyers will give their clients a private and direct line, other lawyers may have a member of the legal staff take the call or charge for incoming phone calls and email communications to the law office. If you believe this is a disadvantageous arrangement, you should certainly choose another Washington DC attorney.
What are the typical rates of a Washington DC attorney?
The type and nature of legal fees for Washington DC attorneys will vary from case to case. Typical fee arrangements will involve flat, retainer, contingency and hourly fees. These fees may also be combined, as the agreement of the client and lawyer. Flat (fixed) fees are typical for performing a legal service that does not go to trial, such as contract preparation/review and preparing documents for bankruptcy filings.
The retainer account is a typical attorney-client arrangement that sets up a billable trust account. The account is drained as the lawyer performs legal services. You should be aware of the amounts that you will be billed to ensure that you are not overbilled. The retainer account is refilled at the discretion of the Washington DC attorney.
Contingency fees are typical of accident, negligence and malpractice cases. In this arrangement, the lawyer does not collect a fee unless there is a settlement or jury award. The lawyer’s fee can be either a lump sum or a percentage. Percentage contingency fees are the most common and give the lawyer the best incentive to win the best possible settlement. The lawyer may be mandated to accept a percentage fee and this fee can be capped by law. Be aware of other costs associated with these cases, such as legal document preparation fees.
Take advantage of free consultations when they are available to discuss potential fees and payment arrangements with Washington DC attorneys. The above fees do not consider court costs, which are also paid by the client. You may be able to arrange low cost and extended payment for legal services at the discretion of the attorney or law firm. Some fees will be non-negotiable.
What are questions to ask Washington DC attorneys?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Are you an active member, in good standing, of the DC 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?
Can you refer me to another lawyer if you are unable to take my case?
Have you been disciplined by any regulatory body?
What are my options if I have trouble affording standard legal representation?