An attorney (also called lawyer, counsel, counselor, solicitor, or barrister) is a professionally trained and licensed individual who assists people with legal problems, often times preparing legal documents or representing people before courts and government agencies.
An attorney has two main duties: to uphold the law and to protect a client’s rights.
When an attorney gives you “advice” it is a conclusion drawn from many years of training and study and perhaps many hours of searching through volumes of written material to be certain that it includes all the laws affecting your problem. In preparing a contract, pleading, or other document for you, your attorney brings the skill and knowledge of the legal profession to that work.
Not necessarily. There are many resources available to individuals. It’s possible that your situation may be resolved through mediation or possibly in small claims court. Contacting the lawyer referral program can help you to determine the best course of action for your specific need.

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is just as applicable in law as it is in medicine. The best time to go to an attorney is before you are in legal difficulty. It is best to consult your attorney before you sign papers or take other action that might seriously alter your legal position.

You should consider consulting an attorney when:
You are planning to enter into a verbal or written contract which has major financial consequences. You are involved in an accident involving injury to persons or damage to property. You are seeking to collect an account from another person, or someone is seeking to collect an account from you which you do not believe you owe or which you question. You need an opinion about the title to real estate. You want to plan your estate and make a will. You are organizing or dissolving a business. You are settling an estate. You are involved in a family situation such as adoption, divorce, child support or modification. Your rights as a consumer or employee are abused. You have been arrested for a crime You have been served with legal papers in a civil lawsuit. You have been involved in a serious accident causing personal injury or property damages. You have a change in financial status or when filing for bankruptcy. There are numerous other reasons why you should consider consulting with an attorney. The lawyer referral service can help you decide what options are available.
Your attorney’s principal duty is to see that you are given the benefit of all your legal rights. An attorney is sworn to conduct cases in an orderly way that will assure that they may be decided upon their merits. Your attorney may not make any agreement or incur any obligations that might substantially prejudice your interests, without your prior approval.
You should give your attorney all the facts concerning your case and make a full and fair disclosure of the entire situation. In order to serve you well, your attorney must know not only the favorable facts but also those that may be unfavorable.
Most attorneys will briefly meet with you in order to get acquainted. During (or soon after) the first meeting, you can decide whether you want to hire the attorney. Before making the decision to hire an attorney, you may want to ask certain questions to aid in your evaluation.
Yes. Ask for the attorney’s opinion about strengths and weaknesses of your case. Ask if the attorney will most likely settle your case out of court, or go to trial. What type of experience does your attorney have with trial work? Take caution if an attorney guarantees a big settlement or assures victory in court.
In determining the fee, an attorney must take into account the difficulties involved with your problem, the amount of time it may take to resolve your problem, and the value of the results obtained for you. You should keep in mind that an attorney has certain necessary expenses in order to serve clients efficiently. From the fees, the attorney must pay for office help in addition to office rent and furnishings. It is also necessary to equip the office library and add to it continually to keep up to date with changes in the law. In the interests of a sound relationship with your attorney, you should discuss the fee at your first consultation. Your attorney may not be able to tell you in advance the exact fee, but in most situations there can at least be an estimate of the charge or an explanation about how the fee will be calculated. Sometimes a lawyer’s fee is controlled by a statute or fixed by court rules. In some cases that involve the recovery of money, the charge may be based on a contingency fee or percentage of the amount recovered. It may be helpful to have the attorney put the fee agreement or billing arrangements in writing. A written agreement can help you avoid any misunderstanding.
There are different ways that attorneys may charge for legal services. LicensedLawyer recommends that you sign a written fee agreement with any attorney you hire. This agreement will outline what services the attorney will provide and how he/she will be paid for those services.
  • Hourly Basis: An attorney may charge for his or her time on an hourly basis. A deposit, known as a retainer fee, is usually paid to the attorney when he/she is hired. The retainer fee does not represent the total fee, additional hourly fees and expenses, such as costs for filing fees, court reporters, photocopying, travel, or long distance telephone calls may be additional. In certain matters, the attorney may be unable to predict how many hours of work or how expensive the entire case will be, but he or she should be able to give you an understanding of the process ahead and an estimate of total costs.
  • Contingency Fee Basis: An attorney may handle a matter on a contingency fee basis. This means a client does not pay any fees unless the lawyer wins or settles the case. Matters such as personal injury, collection matters, products liability, malpractice and some employment law cases may be handled on a contingency fee basis. In some contingency fee arrangements, the attorney may require the client to pay for certain expenses, such as fees for expert witnesses [An “expert” is a person who, because of his education or specialized experience, possesses superior knowledge about a subject. A person who is qualified as an “expert witness” will be allowed to testify in court to assist the judge or jury in understanding complicated or technical subjects not within the knowledge or understanding of the average person and other expenses as outlined above.
  • Flat Fee Basis: An attorney may handle a matter on a flat fee basis. This means that there is a specific dollar amount for which the lawyer will handle the matter regardless of the hours spent. Bankruptcy, real estate purchases and uncontested divorces are often handled on a flat fee basis. Combined Approach: An attorney may combine several of the above options for a particular case.
  • Limited Scope Service: In some cases you may feel that you want to manage the legal process yourself but know that an attorney will be invaluable in helping you accomplish specific tasks. Limited Scope Representation allows you to hire an attorney to meet those exact needs but isolates them from the work you wish to perform on your own. Fees for this type of representation can be a mixture of any of the above options. It is important to understand clearly what fee arrangement you agree to. Ask plenty of questions.
As with other products and services, you often “get what you pay for” when it comes to legal service. Although you should not expect to get good legal advice without paying for it, you should not pay for more than you get. Examine your billing statement carefully. If you feel that any charges are too high, or if you do not understand a billed item, ask for clarification. Also – if you find a difference in fees, ask the attorney why there is a difference.
Yes, answer all of your attorney’s questions fully and honestly. If you tell your attorney all of the facts as you know them, it will save on time that might be spent in later investigations of your case. It will also help your attorney to do a better job. Remember that an attorney is bound by ethics of the profession to maintain what you reveal in strict confidence. Also be prepared to share any documents and records that are related to your matter. It is important to tell your attorney facts about your case that reflect poorly on you. These issues will almost certainly be revealed during trial.

Plan to go to the first interview with an open mind. You do not have to decide to hire the attorney until you have had time to think about the interview. Here is a simple checklist of basic questions to ask before you hire an attorney:

  • What is your experience in this field?
  • Have you handled matters like mine?
  • What are the possible outcomes of my case?
  • What are my alternatives in resolving the matter?
  • Approximately how long will it take to resolve?
  • Do you recommend mediation or arbitration?
  • What are your rates and how often will you bill me?
  • What is a ballpark figure for the total bill, including fees and expenses?
  • How will you keep me informed of progress?
  • What kind of approach will you take to resolve the matter – aggressive and unyielding, or will you be more inclined to reach a reasonable settlement?
  • Who else in the office will be working on my case?
  • Can junior attorneys or paralegals in the office handle some of the administrative work at a lower rate?
Once you’ve hired an attorney, substantial and frequent contact with you is generally not needed. The fee that the attorney quotes usually assumes nominal contact. However, if you decide that you would like to meet with your attorney to discuss the status of your case or new developments, call and make an appointment. Be sure to ask if there will be an additional charge for the office visit. In some cases, letters are the most economic and efficient method of handling questions
If you have a problem with your attorney, you should first discuss it with him or her. Try to work out any problems. If the problems cannot be resolved, it is your right to fire your attorney and to hire someone else to represent you. If the situation occurs before your legal problem is settled, you should expect to pay a portion of the fee to the attorney for time already spent. The attorney has an obligation to return your file. If you are having difficulty working with your attorney the Utah State Bar provides a Consumer Assistance Program. This program is staffed by an independent attorney who will review your issues and try to mediate a solution. If you believe your attorney has not acted in your best interests and has thereby done something illegal or unethical, you may wish to file a grievance against your attorney. In such circumstances, contact the Utah State Bar Office of Professional Conduct at (801) 531-9110 In Alaska, if you wish to file a grievance against your attorney, contact the Alaska Bar Association at 907-272-7469 or [email protected] . Visit our webpage for additional information under “For the Public” at
No, to become licensed in more than one state an attorney must usually comply with each state’s requirements.
Student and Student/Attorney Applicant Requirements. The burden of proof is on the Applicant to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he or she meets each of the following requirements:     (a) Have paid prescribed fees and timely filed the required application in accordance with Rule 14-707;     (b) Be at least twenty-one years old;     (c) Have graduated with a first professional degree in law (Juris Doctorate or Bachelor of Laws) from an Approved Law School;     (d) Be of good moral character and have satisfied the requirements of Rule 17-708;     (e) Have successfully passed the Student Bar Examination as prescribed in Rule 14-710;     (f) Have successfully passed the MPRE as prescribed in Rule 14-713. To register for the MPRE, go to;     (g) Have complied with the provisions of Rule 14-716 concerning licensing and enrollment fees; For more information on Admissions and Requirements of Foreign Law School Applicants and Requirements of Attorney Applicants Without Examination see Admissions.
The Utah State Bar is an organization of Utah’s 12,500 lawyers and judges. The history of the Utah State Bar began in the early 1900’s with the association of several Utah lawyers hoping to improve communication within the legal community and to find ways of serving the general public. In 1931 the Utah Legislature recognized the need to foster those goals and designated the Utah State Bar by statute to manage and regulate the legal profession by licensing all persons who engage in the practice of law. In 1985, the Utah State Constitution was amended to clarify that regulation of the legal profession should be performed under the Judicial Branch of government through the Utah Supreme Court, and the Bar was “perpetuated, created and continued” to perform regulatory and public interest services under the direction and control of the Supreme Court. Today’s Bar envisions its role as leading society in the creation of a justice system that is understood, valued, respected and accessible to all. Within that vision, we have established a mission of representing lawyers in Utah and serving the public and the legal profession by promoting justice, professional excellence, civility, ethics, respect for and understanding of the law. The membership of the Bar includes active and inactive lawyers, and lawyers who reside within and outside the State of Utah. In order to practice law in the State of Utah, it is necessary to be a member of the Utah State Bar. The Utah State Bar maintains offices at 645 South 200 East in Salt Lake City, Utah in the Utah Law and Justice Center. The Bar officers include a president and a president elect who are elected from a commission of 11 lawyers, 2 public members, and several ex-officio members. The Bar has an office staff with various responsibilities related to the administration of the practice of law and services to lawyers and services to the public.
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All lawyers who practice law in Alaska must belong to the Alaska Bar Association, which is under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Supreme Court. The Alaska Bar Association has over 4,000 members. The Bar is governed by a Board of Governors, with nine attorneys elected by the membership and three public members appointed by the governor. The Bar is responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process. The Bar also provides continuing legal education and other member services.
There are different ways that attorneys may charge for legal services. If a fee will exceed $1,000, the fee agreement must be in writing. This agreement will outline what services the attorney will provide and how they will be paid for those services. Attorneys charge differently based on your specific legal matter, the complexity of the situation, and the attorney’s experience in that area of the law.

The State Bar of Montana was created by order of the Montana Supreme Court in January 1974. All persons practicing law in the state are obliged to be members of the State Bar.

The purposes of the State Bar are to aid the courts in maintaining and improving the administration of justice; to foster, maintain and require on the part of attorneys high standards of integrity, learning, competence, public service and conduct; to safeguard proper professional interests of the local bar associations; to provide a forum for discussion of and effective action concerning subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and relations of the Bar to the public; to provide for continuing legal education of members of the Bar and to ensure that the responsibilities of the legal profession to the public are more effectively discharged.

Sixteen trustees, elected by the membership by geographic district, and four officers elected statewide by the membership, govern the State Bar. There are over 4,000 active lawyer members of the State Bar currently licensed to practice law in Montana.

If interested in joining licensed lawyer, please email [email protected] or call (406) 447-2201.



If you live in Utah: The Utah State Bar maintains a number of consumer education materials and programs to help with the legal system. Please visit our public services portal to learn more.

If you live in Colorado: The Colorado State Bar maintains a number of consumer education materials and programs to help with the legal system. Please visit our For the Public page on the CBA website to learn more.

If you live in Alaska: The Alaska Bar Association maintains a number of consumer education materials and programs to help with the legal system. Please visit our For the Public page on the Alaska Bar website to learn more.

If you live in Montana: Please click here to visit our Legal Resources & FAQs page.


Utah: Support is available from 8:30am. to 5:00pm MST Monday through Friday. Please email [email protected] with any questions or comments.

Colorado: Colorado Bar Association support is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST Monday through Thursday, and 9 am to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Please email [email protected] with any questions or comments.

Alaska: Support is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. AST Monday through Friday. Please email [email protected] with any questions or comments.

Montana: State Bar of Montana support is available by contacting [email protected] or by calling (406) 449-6577.