When Do You Need a Lawyer?

As an individual facing a legal issue, your first thought might be to immediately consult with an attorney. While in many circumstances this is in fact the best option, attorney fees can be costly and add up quickly, and some legal issues can be resolved without needing representation.

You may not need an attorney if:

You are trying to collect an amount of money under $10,000. Any disputed amount under $10,000, in Santa Barbara County, between you and another individual may be resolved in Small Claims Court. In Small Claims situations, parties will represent themselves, as attorneys are not permitted. You may still consult with an attorney outside of court if you wish, or you may receive free advice from the Small Claims Advisor.

You have simple questions regarding the law or need help filling out paperwork. Free resources such as the Legal Aid Foundation and the courthouse’s Legal Resource Center offer advice and assistance in certain types of legal issues. Please see their websites for more details.

You believe the situation can be mediated. Mediation is common in family law, civil law, and non-legal interpersonal disputes. In most cases, a mediator will cost less than an attorney and, so long as both parties agree to a decision, the issue can be resolved outside of court. Please contact the local Lawyer Referral Service to find a mediator. Also, a list of mediation services located around Santa Barbara County can be found here.

If none of these circumstances apply to you, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney. If you are in need of an attorney, please contact our Lawyer Referral Service by email at santabarbaralrs@gmail.com or by phone at 805-569-9400. Please keep in mind that our attorneys do not offer free legal advice and it is typical to expect average rates of $350/hr for legal services. However, some cases (personal injury, social security, workers’ compensation, etc.) may be taken on a contingent basis.