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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: How lawyers can help in tough economic times

October 8, 2008

Legal issues arise during strong economic growth as well as in severe market downturns. Within the past year, we have entered a severe downturn that is as bad as anything since the 1970’s. People should be aware that seeking legal help during these difficult economic times does not necessarily cost thousands of dollars. There are legal areas where an attorney does not get paid unless the client successfully recovers an award. Also, there are many organizations and firms that offer pro bono (free) and reduced-fee services.

First, I will discuss cases where a lawyer does not typically charge a fee unless the client recovers an award. The most standard area is personal injury cases. These cases can range from automobile accidents and slip and falls to medical malpractice. Basically, these cases involve any incident where an individual is injured due to the fault of another person. Most law firms do not require retainers (money paid in advance) for taking on clients in these matters. Typically these cases involve contingency fee agreements where an attorney agrees to perform all of the legal work in a case at no cost to the client in exchange for receiving one third of the settlement or trial award. If the client does not recover any money, no legal fees are owed. The attorney only receives a fee if the client receives a settlement or award at trial. Often insurance companies will try to settle with victims quickly before they seek legal representation because they hope to resolve the case at as low an amount as possible. Individuals should not hesitate to contact an attorney in these matters right away because not only will they then have legal representation, they will not have to pay any legal fees unless the case is successfully resolved.

Many law firms also offer pro bono or reduced fee legal services to certain clients. This is up to the individual lawyer or law firm, but almost all law firms offer some free or reduced fee services to deserving clients. In addition, there are many organizations and resources that offer legal advice or even representation to the indigent at no cost or a reduced fee. About a year ago I wrote an article discussing these services. In these tough economic times, this list warrants repeating. The organizations include the New Hampshire Legal Assistance (offering legal advice and representation to eligible New Hampshire citizens (603)668-2900); Senior Citizen’s Law Project (offering advice for legal issues facing seniors (603)624-6000); New Hampshire Bar Association (a lawyer referral service and a reduced fee referral program (603)229-0002); the Legal Advice and Referral Center (providing free information, legal advice and referral services to low-income persons regarding family law, welfare, and housing (603)224-3333); the Domestic Violence Emergency Project (providing legal representation for qualifying victims of domestic violence 1-800-852-3388); LawLine (providing free legal information on the second Wednesday of the month from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 1-800-868-1212); SCOPE (local lawyers volunteering time at the Superior Court in Ossipee to answer legal and procedural questions).

Tough economic times do not mean that you must forgo legal representation if you have any issue. Whether you have been injured in an accident or have other legal issues, there are legal resources available at low or no cost. You should not hesitate to pursue these options.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay