Why do I need a lawyer?


A lawyer is a professional advisor who can help you navigate legal issues. The law can be confusing, so your lawyer will guide you through the process and get the best outcome.

Lawyers offer a range of services, including giving legal advice, drafting letters on your behalf, helping you fill in important forms, and representing you in court. They can help you understand the steps you need to take to advance your interests regarding a range of everyday matters.

Here are some common examples:

  • Navigating a divorce, including division of assets and parenting orders
  • Resolving a dispute with a neighbour about a shared fence
  • Pleading your case in a criminal hearing to ensure you get a fair trial
  • Creating a will that will ensure your loved ones are looked after
  • Setting up a business, choosing a structure, and drafting the paperwork 

Different types of lawyers specialise in different types of issues. For example, some may be property experts, some may be small business experts, some may be family law experts, and so on. A great way to start is by talking to a local lawyer, using this helpful Find a Lawyer tool.

It’s important to know that not every legal issue needs a lawyer. If you are issued a fine while taking public transport, for example, you may find that the cost of getting legal representation is actually more than the fine itself. (If you want to contest a small fine, the best course of action is usually to follow the instructions contained in the letter, write back, and request a review.)

However, when the stakes are high, legal representation can make a big difference. Depending on the type of issue you’re facing, expert advice can help you get a better financial outcome, spend more time with your kids, or even reduce the amount of time you spend in prison.

There are three important questions you should ask yourself to make a decision:

Do you have a legal issue or do you need to start one to protect your interests?

A lawyer can advise you on your legal rights and obligations so you understand exactly where you stand. They will let you know if you have a strong case and help you address any weaknesses that may improve your chance of getting a successful outcome.

Do you understand the law and the relevant procedures (including time limits)?

Legal processes are complicated. There are three levels of courts operating in New South Wales, as well as specialist courts, and many different tribunals. It’s also very common to resolve legal disputes using methods such as negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. Different courts have different costs, procedural rules, and timeframes. A lawyer will help you understand what you need to do, when you need to be ready, and what to expect along the way.

Are you comfortable representing yourself and do you understand the risks?

Everyone is entitled to represent themselves. However, if you don’t know much about the area of law that applies to your case or the risks are high, you may benefit from legal advice.