Finding a Lawyer
Many people hire a lawyer to handle their case in the court system because it is
hard to do without training and experience. Your case may be so important or so
complex that you will benefit from the assistance of a lawyer. Finding an attorney to
represent your interests, in court or otherwise, can be a difficult process. Talk to family and friends for their recommendations. The information below can provide such assistance as individualized referrals,
referrals by geographic area, or referrals by practice area. A referral is not meant to be a substitute for the careful screening each person should conduct before retaining an attorney. You are encouraged to ask
any attorney you intend to retain for a list of references, areas of practice,
or other suitable evidence of the attorney's ability to represent your
Going to court without a lawyer is called pro se and pronounced "pro-say." Sometimes when
people represent themselves, they end up having to hire a lawyer to "fix"
their mistakes, which can be costly. The law and rules of court apply to everyone, people represented by
lawyers and people representing themselves. You can learn more about this by
reviewing the Representing Yourself section of this website. It is a good idea to start by talking to a
lawyer about your problem before you decide to represent yourself in court. Handling Your Case in Family Court offers more information.
Resources that can help:
maintained by The Missouri Bar (the organization of all lawyers
licensed in Missouri), is a list of lawyers who have indicated they are
currently accepting new clients. You can search by area of practice or
location. This list includes contact information for each lawyer listed.
- The Public Resources Directory
is an extensive listing of resources available to Missouri citizens at
the local, state and federal level.
- The Official Missouri
Directory of Lawyers lists every
lawyer in Missouri who is in good standing with the Supreme Court of
Missouri. Updated daily, it is the most authoritative and comprehensive listing
of Missouri lawyers available. However, this directory does not
provide contact information, nor do the listings indicate whether a particular
lawyer is accepting new clients. Use this directory if you want to check a
- For referrals in southwest Missouri, the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association (SMBA)
has a local Lawyer Referral Service
If you are a person whose income
meets the guidelines for free legal services in certain civil cases, you can
check Legal Services of Missouri
for a legal aid office near you.
- If you are seeking
assistance in a criminal case and are indigent or otherwise unable to afford a
lawyer, you may be entitled to representation by the Missouri State Public Defender System.
If you do not qualify for representation in a criminal case, please refer
to the list of lawyer referral systems listed above.
- The Missouri Bar's website offers free law-related brochures
about various areas of the law, including consumer, family and probate
law; living wills and durable powers of attorney; and small claims
Hiring a Lawyer
The Client Resource Guide is a publication of The
Missouri Bar that contains helpful information about hiring a lawyer. Talk about
the fee at your first meeting with a lawyer. The lawyer wants you to be pleased
with the service and expects to discuss fees with you. Lawyers are prohibited from
charging a "contingent" fee (a percentage of money collected) in family
Lawyers enter into several types of arrangements to represent people:
Consultation: A lawyer will discuss your case
and provide some advice at an hourly rate.
Advance Fee Deposit:
A lawyer may ask for part of the fee in
advance, particularly if the lawyer will represent you in court. Often,
the lawyer will be responsible for all the services required in the
case. The lawyer
may have a fixed fee, or may charge you by the hour.
Scope Representation: It always is best to be informed about
your legal rights. New rules allow Missouri lawyers to assist people
with some of the legal work in their cases. The client remains
responsible for tasks not handled by the lawyer. Examples of work the
lawyer may perform include the following: consulting about legal rights
and strategies, preparation of court documents, and appearing in court
with the client to prove up an uncontested case. Lawyers may charge by
the task or by the hour.
The fee generally is based on the amount of work performed by the
Collaborative Law: An
exciting new approach to divorce and other family legal disputes. In the
collaborative law process each spouse is represented by an attorney
hired to advise
the client and achieve a negotiated settlement in a context of full and
disclosure where the goal is a fair and equitable resolution of all
issues. A team
of related professionals can be available to work with the family and
providing coaching in communication, guidance on child issues, and
assistance with financial matters. The parties and the professionals
agree not to
litigate the dispute or participate in court proceedings. The focus and
resources of all involved in the process is on creative problem-solving
based on a
sound legal foundation. This model offers a divorce process which
dignity, integrity, and long-term best interests of all family members.
"Pro Bono" Assistance: Some
lawyers are willing to assist people with low income at no cost. Your local bar
association or Legal Services agency has a list of lawyers willing to donate legal
services. Go to the county resources list for your county for details.
The Missouri Bar has a fee dispute resolution program to help
people work out disagreements over fees with their lawyer.