During this Great Recession more and more people are watching their finances like a hawk. Lawyers are expensive, so can you avoid one?
You should research the basics of your legal concern, but only in rare circumstances should you proceed alone. Your best bet is to get an attorney.
Generally a good lawyer will save you a lot of money. For example a good employment lawyer will help you avoid costly situations and dead ends.
But do not rely on a lawyer to do everything. This is dangerous. You should not expect a lawyer to pull rabbits out of his hat or solve all of your problems with a wave of a magic wand.
Rather, take ownership in your legal dispute. Treat a lawyer like a teammate. Learn the basic law, be organized, ask questions, and keep your lawyer in the know.
There are several wonderful resources for non-lawyers. For a general concept of law I recommend No-Lo Guides. Courts have helpful guides for people who represent themselves. The guides often describe the law in simple terms.
For Washington residents, I recommend Washington Law Help, which provides helpful advice in simple and straightforward language. Note that the website is provided as a public service by NW Justice Project, Columbia Legal Services, and other respected agencies.
Most often, I meet well-intentioned people who find the right law, or even the right analysis of the law. Yet the problem is that they do not interpret the information correctly. They misinterpret the law or they do not analyze their circumstances appropriately. In extreme cases, people think they deserve millions of dollars when they are lucky to get anything. In closer examples, people do not organize their cases in ways that maximize their chances of winning.