North Carolina Law Firm

Laws are different in every state and even in most local areas.  North Carolina is no different, with its own laws on matters such as ligation, gun ownership, drug offenses and bankruptcy filings.  It is due to these differences in the law that most should consider a North Carolina law firm for their legal matter, any time that legal matter is in the state.  You should seek a referral to a North Carolina law firm but you can also conduct research on your own and select potential law firms that may be able to handle your legal matter.  Use this guide for common sense steps you can take for the best legal representation possible.

Things to look for when meeting with the North Carolina law firm

You are usually granted an initial consultation with North Carolina law firms prior to committing to a fee arrangement.  The fee for the initial consultation may be nominal or may not be assessed at all for a number of legal matters such as litigation and worker’s compensation.

While it may seem obvious, be aware of unlicensed law firms that provide limited legal services but cannot represent you in court or make overtures to suggest that the person preparing your legal paperwork is not licensed to do so.  The unauthorized practice of law is a serious matter in the state and is a form of fraud.  You have no levels of recourse when dealing with an unlicensed law firm and you will also have no guarantee on the warranty or suitability of the level services provided to you.

Assess the communication policy before setting a fee arrangement.  Look at the fees that are assessed on clients for phone, email and in-person communication.  If you are averse to paying these fees, it sets up a barrier between you and the North Carolina law firm.  This is costly if you have a legal question and cannot have it answered in a timely manner, or you need to be reminded of critical information such as court dates.  As long as the North Carolina law firm is committed to working with you and not setting up barriers to communicate, it should be in your best interests to pick the North Carolina law firm with a reasonable communication policy.

You should also be able to make a snap judgment on the professionalism of the members of the North Carolina law firm based on their initial responses to your inquiry and version of events related to the legal matter.  while this is difficult to discern from a short meeting, you can determine if a North Carolina law firm will treat your matter with an appropriate measure of care and objectivity.  Failure to do so severely limits your ability to work with any North Carolina law firm.

Are North Carolina law firms useful for federal matters?

Even for federal crimes and related legal issues, such as bankruptcy, many of these cases will take place in federal court in North Carolina.  Local representation will be helpful to meet with your lawyers and communicate about the details and issues with the case.  Some federal issues, such as bankruptcy have definitions in North Carolina laws that are unique to the state.  In this instance, they will be unique bankruptcy exemptions that can be combined with federal exemptions to safeguard your property from seizure during a bankruptcy filing. 

What is the function of the NCBA?

The North Carolina Bar Association is not an integrated bar association, meaning that membership is not mandatory.  It is however, a large organization and the premier organization for legal professionals in North Carolina law firms.  The NCBA maintains codes of professional and ethical conduct for its 17,000 members, which supplement the professional standards in the practice of law in North Carolina.  Almost 70% of lawyers in North Carolina law firms are members of the NCBA.

How do I get a referral to North Carolina law firms?

The best way to secure a referral, aside from talking to trusted legal professionals, is to use the lawyer referral service provided by the NCBA.  You can be charged anywhere from $50 to nothing by the lawyer listed in this service for an initial consultation.  Only lawyers that are members of the NCBA and pay a $150 listing fee may receive referrals.  These lawyers will be vetted and self-select the areas of laws they are qualified to assist with.

Verifying a North Carolina law firm

Check the public directory available at the NCBA website for a listing on all lawyers that are in good standing and may practice law in the state.  Contact the NCBA for more information on finding disciplinary records or verifying lawyers that do not appear in the public directory.

What are the typical rates of North Carolina law firms?

What you will pay depends on your legal issue.  Litigation costs you very little but adversarial legal matters not involving lawsuits, such as divorces, will be costly.  Ensure you have the fee agreement in writing in case there is the need to enter fee dispute resolution or anticipate what you will pay for long term legal issues.  Any accounts held in trust or conditions on payment must be included in the billing arrangement.

Litigation is cheap due to the fact that the North Carolina law firm is allowed to collect a substantial percentage of the jury award as compensation for legal services.  You benefit from this arrangement as you will generally owe the North Carolina law firm nothing if they fail to collect on your behalf.

Retainer accounts will also be requested for a number of long term legal relationships with the North Carolina law firm.  This keeps lawyer fees in a trust account, which is billed according to the fee agreement.  Expect the hourly fee to be deducted from here as well as fixed rate fees for related services.  This account is refilled as many times as necessary and you should ensure that the remaining balance is returned to the client.

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