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Hiring an Attorney

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 work with them effectively, we gathered various resources that you may find useful. The guide includes online articles, library books, FAQs, and links to relevant Texas agencies and court rules. 

Reasons to Hire an Attorney

Why should I hire an attorney?

People often hire an attorney when facing criminal charges or a lawsuit. Executors in many probate proceedings are also required to hire an attorney, as they represent the estate rather than themselves.

But an attorney can help in many other situations. Whenever you encounter legal complexities, they can help you learn about your rights, represent your interests, and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Example scenarios include:

  • divorce and child custody disputes
  • buying or selling property
  • settling an estate after the death of a loved one
  • starting or running a business
  • drafting important legal documents like wills and contracts.

Law firms often offer a free initial consultation, which can help you determine if hiring a lawyer is the right choice for you. Our Finding an Attorney page has more information on choosing an attorney and the questions to ask. 

Do I need an attorney for a small claims case? 

"Small claims" refers to legal disputes of $20,000 or less. Justice of the Peace Courts, also known as small claims courts, are less formal than district or county courts. People often represent themselves, and hiring an attorney isn't required. It can still be helpful, however, especially if you have a less-than-straightforward case.

Attorney Services

What types of services do attorneys provide?

The role of an attorney will vary depending on the client's needs. Attorneys can:

  • provide legal advice
  • 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 types services you might expect from a lawyer. 

Small-Scale Services

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. An attorney may provide an hour or two of legal advice, help you fill out a form, or help you represent yourself in a case. Ask an attorney if they offer this type of limited service that could help you save on costs.

What if I have a simple legal question?

If you don't want to hire an attorney for your simple question, some legal hotlines offer free legal assistance over the phone or online. You may have to meet certain income requirements to qualify for this service.

Free Legal Assistance

What if I can't afford an attorney?

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. You may be able to apply for free legal aid or find a public service or "pro bono" attorney willing to take your case.

Books Available from the State Law Library

These printed resources on the subject are available for in-person borrowing at the library.