When do you need a lawyer?
Sometimes the law and the legal system can get confusing and hard to understand. You may not know how to resolve your issue, which area of law your legal issue is about, whether you have to go to court and if so, how the court process works. Seeing a lawyer and getting some legal advice can help you understand your options and give you the confidence to help you resolve your legal issue.
What can a lawyer do?
A lawyer can do as much or as little work as you and the lawyer agree. You can ask them to help you with your case from start to finish, or you can ask them to deal with certain parts of your case.
A lawyer can give you legal advice. This may include:
- reading and explaining documents
- helping you fill in forms
- helping you fill in an application for a grant of legal aid
- giving you an opinion about what you should do, the strength of your case, the likely outcome.
A lawyer can represent you (do work for you and speak on your behalf). This may include:
- writing letters or emails on your behalf
- negotiating with the other party on your behalf
- representing you in court.
Before you see a lawyer, think about what work you want done. A lawyer should be able to tell you quickly whether they can help you with your case and if they can represent you. However, they may need some time to work on your particular legal issue or dispute.
Should you get legal advice?
It is always a good idea to get some legal advice about your legal issue.
As a starting point, you can call
LawAccess NSW on
1300 888 529 to give you free legal information over the telephone and send you information, for example, fact sheets, forms, publications. In some cases, LawAccess NSW can arrange for one of our lawyers to give you free legal advice over the telephone and/or refer you to another service, for example, if you need face to face legal advice, or a specialist legal service.
There are some benefits of getting legal advice. A lawyer:
- can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities
- knows how the law applies to your case
- may be aware of a defence or law that you are not aware of
- can tell you how strong your case is
- can advise you about any relevant time limits or if you are able to get an extension on any deadlines that may apply.
Should you get a lawyer to represent you?
After you have some information or advice, you may be able to resolve your problem or legal issue yourself. For more information, see the
Mediation topics of this website.
People will often represent themselves because it may be cheaper. Sometimes people have to represent themselves because depending on their type of legal issue, the court or tribunal may not allow a lawyer to represent them.
If you are still not sure whether or not to get a lawyer to represent you, you should consider:
- how much do you know about the area of law that relates to your case?
- are you comfortable representing yourself?
- what are the risks if you do not get a lawyer?
- how much will a lawyer cost?
- is there a lawyer close to where you live?
- is a lawyer allowed to represent you?
For more information, see
The role of a lawyer.