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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: The Legal Corner: Pursuing justice at no cost

August 9, 2011

In the current economy, there are many people who have valid legal claims, but decide not to pursue them because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Logically, people figure that if they cannot afford their monthly bills, then there is no way to fund a legal claim. After all, disputes which require legal representation through a full trial can cost anywhere from $5000.00 for a small one-day trial to $30,000.00 or more for a lengthy trial. This article will be part-one of a two-part series in which I will provide information for how people can seek justice at low or no cost
First, if your claim for damages is less than $7,500.00, you can pursue your case in small claims court. Small claims court can be an inexpensive and satisfactory way to pursue your claim. The process is often much simpler and less formal than other courts. In small claims court, you file your case, and then the court sets a date for mediation or trial. There are no structuring conferences, lengthy discovery orders, or pre-trial conferences. Even if your claim is for slightly more than $7,500.00 you may consider going to small claims court to pursue your damages up to $7,500.00. While you may have to sacrifice your damages above $7,500.00, you will save attorney’s fees and will likely get a much quicker result than in other courts.
In cases with higher damages that mandate going to another court, you may be able to hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis. In a contingency fee agreement, your lawyer only gets paid if you achieve a settlement or win at a trial. Typically these types of agreements are used in car accidents, dog bite cases, slip and fall cases and other cases where a person is injured due to the fault of someone else. Occasionally, they can be used in other cases as well. The benefit of these agreements is that you can hire a lawyer without paying any money up front.
On the other hand, if you are a defendant in a case where someone is suing you, you may feel like you have to have a lawyer, but cannot afford one. Even if you have to represent yourself, there are options, such as “unbundling” of legal services. Unbundling of legal services means that you can hire an attorney in a limited capacity and do not have to retain an attorney to represent you through an entire case. So, for example, if you are involved in a legal dispute but cannot afford legal representation, you can hire an attorney to help you prepare paperwork, respond to discovery requests, organize your case, research legal issues, and/or prepare you for the trial. Hiring an attorney in a limited capacity can save you many thousands of dollars in legal costs.
In my next article, I will provide additional resources for individuals with valid claims, but without the means to hire an attorney. In the meantime, remember, even if you do not have thousands of dollars to spend on a lawyer, there are many ways to pursue justice at a low or no cost.

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