Using this guide, you will be able to find a Virginia lawyer to handle your legal matter. Choosing a local lawyer is advantageous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is familiarity with state laws and regulations. There are thousands of lawyers in Virginia but resources exist to help you find a reliable Virginia lawyer to deal with your legal matter.
Applicable limitations on Virginia lawyers and legal actions
All states limit litigation in some form, aiming to de-clutter civil courts and cut down on frivolous lawsuits. Virginia in particular caps punitive damages at $350,000, limits the number of expert witnesses that can be used during a trail and ensuring that expert witnesses have clinical practice in their specialty. These limitations and more may affect your case. The Virginia lawyer will be able to explain the impact of these laws on your case if you are pursuing a legal matter in Virginia.
Finding a Virginia lawyer
Membership in the Virginia Bar is mandatory and there is the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service to help the public find a Virginia family lawyer. You will be charged no more than $35 for an initial half hour consultation with the Virginia lawyer. This service operates from 9 – 5 on weekdays and there is no obligation for either the client or Virginia lawyer to meet beyond the initial consultation, making this a low cost alternative to researching individual lawyers.
Referral specialists will do intake for the service when a potential client calls and that specialist will connect you to a specialized lawyer that will able to handle your case appropriately. The VLRS is also an information agency and can direct you to another agency is it is determined that your problem does not require a lawyer. There is no additional cost for the use of this service and the client contact the lawyer at their convenience, rather than having the consultation arranged by the service
You may use this website to find an attorney using the Find Attorney function at the top of the page.
Evaluating your Virginia lawyer
You should be able to examine the lawyer’s credentials, including degree and proof of Bar Association membership. If the lawyer does not produce these things, then this is likely not an individual that should be dispensing legal advice. Ensure that a lawyer is legitimate before accepting any legal services.
You should never use advertising as an indicator of a lawyer’s quality and should also never be used when making a decision on proper legal representation. Remember that advertising subjective and larger advertisements do not indicate a better lawyer, only the lawyer is paying more for name recognition. Some quality, Virginia lawyers may not advertise at all. Find a lawyer that communicates well with you, is objective and has a track record of honesty when working with clients.
If you ever face a situation where a Virginia lawyer will charge excessive fees or coerce you into paying more for services, you must contact the Virginia State Bar. States with mandatory membership bar associations have a responsibility to maintain a standard of professionalism and ethics in the practice of law. This organization will have mechanisms to ensure that lawyers that engage in wrongdoing are properly sanctioned and held to a professional code of conduct. Reporting an unscrupulous lawyer will prevent the victimization of other clients in the future.
Pro bono assistance
Consultations with litigation law firms will generally be free. You should take advantage of free consultations as they become available. Many lawyer referral services will offer at least one free referral for accident, worker’s compensation and disability cases. Organizations such as the Virginia Legal Aid Society exist to improve access to the legal system for low income residents.
If you require pro bono assistance, many, but certainly not all accident law firms will offer legal aid to those that demonstrate sufficient need. Speaking with your local bar association or legal aid society will be necessary to secure the help you will need. Remember that cases involving a contingency arrangement, the upfront cost to you will be very little in most circumstances.
Rates, Fees & Retainers
Flat rates are typically assessed for one-time only services such as document preparation and revision, the composition of legally binding contracts, and serving as your legal consul during certain family law related proceedings.
Contingency fees are typical in litigation when the plaintiff is seeking damages. The Virginia lawyer will be entitled to collect a percentage of the jury award. Unlike other states, there are no statutory limitations on contingency fees so the client must ensure that the fee arrangement is favorable to their interests.
Retainer accounts are used by lawyers to maintain their flexibility when dealing with multiple clients. You will also find it useful to be billed through a retainer account. The retainer account is a trust account that is billed for the use of time and rendering of services for the client. This also includes flat fees for document preparation and the use of office staff. Although these accounts are refilled with the consent of the client, the leftover balance is typically returned to the client as per custom or dictated by law.
Short term legal work may require hourly billing for the use of the Virginia lawyer’s time. During these instances, be aware of the hourly rate and work to maximize your time.
Be aware of fees for communication and be sure to secure a written fee arrangement before retaining the services of a Virginia lawyer.
Interviewing your attorney
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney.
How much do I pay for the initial consultation?
How does my case relate to state and local laws?
What are statutory limitations related to my case?
Does my negligence exceed that of the other party?
Who will I speak to if there is a problem or if I have a question about my legal matter?
Can you refer me to another lawyer if you are unable to take my case?
Do you have proof of bar association membership?