When people talk about getting legal help, it's usually for serious issues like a lawsuit or a divorce. But real people need legal help all the time.
How do I write a will? Can I make my neighbor stop blasting music at 3 am? Is my employment contract going to come back and bite me? What about my lease? All of these are important everyday questions and all of them have a legal answer.
Assuming that you didn't go to law school and don't have a subscription to expensive legal research services, how do you go about finding these answers? We have some suggestions.
Do your own research. It's not necessarily quick, but there are resources out there if you need to answer to a legal question. You can look up the relevant laws, use a free legal research tool like FindLaw, or check out your local court website for information.
Post on a forum. If your question is specific or personal the answer might not be out there yet. But you can post it to an expert on the Answers forum and get a free response, or at least a nudge in the right direction.
Find your local self-help center. For issues that involve the court or at least require filing legal documents, you might be able to get some free assistance. Many courts and counties have a free self-help center with all the forms you might need and hopefully someone to help you with filling them out.
Pay for a legal consultation. It's not necessarily cost-effective but you might be able to get a one or two hour consultation with a local attorney. For some issues that might be a bit of overkill but for others, it could be worth it for the peace of mind. Got a lawyer in the family? You might even be able to get a discount.
Get a legal plan. There's a happy medium between do-it-yourself and shelling out money for a lawyer. You can join a legal plan that gives you access to phone consultations with a lawyer. Plans like LegalStreet charge a low monthly fee; in exchange, you can ask your legal questions and get help with basic legal documents. When choosing a plan, look for one that will help you now and give you a discount if you later need an attorney to represent you in court. You know, for just in case.
Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.