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Hiring a Lawyer

This guide provides information on where to find a lawyer, how to effectively work with your lawyer, and how to resolve attorney-client disputes.

About This Guide

To help you find a lawyer and effectively work with them, we gathered some resources that you may find useful. The guide includes online articles, library books, FAQs, and links to relevant Texas statutes and court rules. 

Why should I hire a lawyer?

People often hire a lawyer to deal with a lawsuit or criminal charges. Executors in probate proceedings must hire an attorney to represent the estate and third-party interests. 

But a lawyer can be useful in many other situations. If you're writing a legal document or have legal questions, it's a good idea to consult a legal professional. A lawyer can inform you about your rights, write paperwork on your behalf, and give you advice on how to proceed. Example scenarios where it helps to have an attorney include:

  • divorce or child custody disputes;
  • buying or selling property;
  • writing a will;
  • writing a contract;
  • disagreement with an HOA;
  • starting or running a business.

Initial consultation with a law firm is often free. It can help you determine if a lawyer is a good fit for your situation. Finding a Lawyer page has more information about what to look for. 

Do I need a lawyer for a small claims case?

Small claims cases of $20,000 or less are tried in Justice of the Peace (JP) courts. JP courts are less formal than district and county courts, and people often represent themselves. Hiring an attorney isn't required, but it can be helpful. This is especially true if you have a less-than-straightforward case.

What types of services do lawyers provide?

A lawyer can provide a variety of services. Specifics will depend on the client's needs. An attorney may:

  • provide legal advice;
  • communicate on the client's behalf;
  • represent the client in negotiations and court proceedings;
  • prepare a case for trial;
  • write, review, and file legal documents;
  • guide the client through the legal system.

The articles below discuss the variety of services you might expect from a lawyer. 

What if I only need a small amount of legal services?

If you only need limited services or can't afford full representation, limited scope representation or "unbundled legal services" can be an affordable alternative. It could be a good option if you're looking for:

  • an hour or two of legal advice;
  • help with a form;
  • review of a contract;
  • help representing yourself.

There is no single list of attorneys who offer unbundled services. You may have to contact them individually to ask about limited representation. 

What if I have a simple legal question?

If you don't want to hire an attorney, a legal hotline may be able to help. Hotlines offer free legal assistance over the phone or online. They may answer simple legal questions but usually won't be able to help with complex problems or offer extended assistance.

You may have to meet certain income requirements to qualify for free services.

What if I can't afford a lawyer?

If you're facing criminal charges and can't afford an attorney, you may be eligible for a court-appointed attorney

Parties to most civil lawsuits do not qualify for court-appointed attorneys (with some exceptions). If you make below a certain income, you can apply for free legal aid or try to find a "pro bono" attorney to take your case.

Books Available from the State Law Library

These printed books are available for in-person borrowing at the library.