10 tips when hiring a lawyer

The truth is you weren't told about hiring a lawyer. The decision to hire a lawyer is very important. After all, there are dozens of factors that must be taken into account. And believe me: the price charged by the lawyer should not be the main factor. Experience, technical knowledge, team, and agility are points that deserve – and a lot – your attention. Now, how to choose the best possible lawyer to hire? How can you make the best decision from the perspective of the relationship between risk and return? Seems to be pretty subjective, doesn't it?

The truth is that incredible as it may seem, there is a science behind this choice. Yup. It can be taken much simpler, as long as you know what to evaluate. And in Garrastazu's new article, that's exactly what I'm going to show you. Here, you will learn how to choose the best lawyer to take care of your legal problems. More than that: throughout this text, you will come out with complete confidence on how to choose a good professional to help you. This is through a simple step-by-step that any layman can successfully follow. So keep reading to learn more about points like:

  • Do I really need a lawyer?
  • In what cases is a lawyer not needed?
  • Does the professional have a valid registration in the National Registry of Lawyers?
  • Do I need a specialist lawyer?
  • Is it safe to hire a lawyer online?
  • Is it better to hire a lawyer or a law firm?
  • When should I consult a lawyer?
  • What is the cost to hire a lawyer? What are the payment terms?
  • What care should be taken regarding the fee contract?
  • Does the lawyer have an obligation to win the case?
  • Come on

1) Do I really need a lawyer?

The lawyer is the only professional who has the so-called “postulatory capacity” (or “jus postulates”). In other words, only the lawyer is the one who can ask and defend the claims of the people before the Brazilian Justice. That's the general rule. In addition, the lawyer acts in legal advice and consultancy / through a law firm or is hired by a particular company or individual. Likewise, public bodies rely on civil servant lawyers hired through public tenders or, in certain cases, as commissioned positions. Given the complexity of the activities linked to auditing and accounting, it is common for lawyers to advise these professionals from other areas, sometimes participating in the board or board of companies to develop legal planning. Finally, the lawyer acts in legal education itself, as a teacher. So, caution #2 when hiring a lawyer is to ask yourself if any of these utilities are really necessary.

2) In which cases is a lawyer not necessary?

The Federal Constitution provides that everyone is guaranteed the “right to petition the public authorities in defense of rights or against illegalities” and that “the law shall not exclude injury or threat to rights from the Judiciary's assessment” (Art. 5, XXXIV and XXXV). However, these rights do not allow citizens to go to court to defend their rights. For this, it is necessary to have the so-called “postulatory capacity” (or “jus postulandi”), which belongs only to lawyers. The normative basis for this is that the lawyer is “indispensable to the administration of justice”, provided for in art. 133 of the Federal Constitution and in art. 1 of Law no. 8.906/94, the Lawyer's Statute.

It is true that, in certain cases, the role of the lawyer in the judicial process is waived. As a rule, this situation is related to the intention to facilitate access to justice. The list of exceptions includes actions filed in special civil courts, in cases of up to twenty minimum wages (article 9 of Law No. 9,099/95), in federal civil and criminal courts and in the Public Treasury, in cases of up to sixty minimum wages and labor claims (art. 791 of the Consolidation of Labor Laws). Tip #5 is to avoid hiring a lawyer when it is not necessary and also to be humble about the advisability of having a lawyer to obtain the maximum advantage in relation to each legal issue.

3) Does the professional have a valid registration in the National Registry of Lawyers?

First of all, you need to understand who a lawyer is and what a lawyer does. The lawyer is a liberal professional. The liberal professional has a university or technical training and performs his activity as an employee or on his own, in a liberal way. In addition to lawyers, doctors, and architects, other professionals are liberal professionals.

According to Placido e Silva:

“In a broad sense, a lawyer is every person who, by championing the interests of others, advises, responds by law, and defends their rights and interests, when discussed judicially or extrajudicially” (De Plácido e Silva, Vocabulário Jurídico. São Paulo: Forense, 28. ed., p.71).
The Lawyer is graduated from the Faculty of Law and needs approval and valid registration with the Brazilian Bar Association. Therefore, the #1 care when hiring a lawyer is to verify that the professional has this valid registration in the National Registry of Lawyers (CNA), which is maintained by the Federal Council of the OAB.

4) Do I need a specialist lawyer?

In medicine, the professional who specializes in a certain area, such as anesthesia, ends up not prioritizing and loses knowledge in other areas that he learned superficially at the university. The same goes for the lawyer.

There are more than forty known legal specialties, such as Administrative Law, Aeronautical Law, Space Law, Maritime Law, Aerospace Law, Agrarian Law, Environmental Law, Arbitration Law, Biotechnology Law (Biolaw), Civil Law, Commercial Law, Bankruptcy and Judicial Recovery, Sports Law, Constitutional Law, Consumer Law, Electoral Law, Business Law, Family Law, Human Rights, Real Estate Law, Childhood and Youth Law, International Law, Trademarks and Patents Law, Maritime Law, Medical Law, Capital Market Law, Military Law, Mining Law, Municipal Law, Business Law, Criminal Law, Social Security Law, Intellectual Property Law, Public Law, Rural Law, Health Law, Insurance Law, Union Law, Law Corporate Law, Telecommunications and Internet Law, Labor Law, Tax Law io and Urban Law, among others.

Therefore, caution #3 when hiring a lawyer is to delimit which area of ​​law the problem belongs to and seek a real expert. Hiring an employment lawyer instead of hiring a criminal lawyer can be a big mistake when dealing with a criminal issue. Hiring a social security attorney in place of a family law attorney for a divorce, for example, can bring major headaches.

5) Is it safe to hire a lawyer online?

Currently, there are several websites that advertise the services of lawyers and that allow hiring from contacts on the internet. Our website even allows such contact in the Contact item. You need to be careful when hiring a lawyer online. If you are looking for a lawyer in São Paulo and you are from Porto Alegre, for example, it is convenient to make sure that the office is registered with the local OAB. The same applies, of course, if you are looking for lawyers in Porto Alegre or Rio de Janeiro, but it is possible that the OAB do Rio Grande do Sul or Rio de Janeiro.

Likewise, it is convenient to verify if the firm has its professionals enrolled in the OAB and that it has the physical structure to meet the necessary demands. Currently, the law, with the implementation of the Electronic Judicial Process, can be exercised remotely. In other words, a lawyer in Porto Alegre can easily act in electronic proceedings in the districts of São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. In certain cases, hiring a lawyer from a city like Porto Alegre will not be much different than hiring a lawyer with an office in downtown Rio de Janeiro for a client who lives in Barra da Tijuca, as the contacts between client and lawyer will take place, also in these conditions, preferably over the phone or over the internet.

It is necessary to pay attention, however, to certain costs with hearings and trial sessions in which the physical presence of the lawyer is mandatory or convenient for a positive outcome of the lawsuit.
Therefore, tip #4 is to understand that technology currently allows hiring a lawyer directly online, and it is important to observe the precautions above.

6) It is better to hire a lawyer or a law firm ?

It is difficult to decide whether to hire a lawyer or a law firm. In theory, both one form of contract and the other must allow access to justice or legal information sought. However, when the need for consultation and advice becomes more intense, especially when a quick response is needed, it is usually convenient to hire a law firm with a certain number of lawyers. This is because, in certain
circumstances, it is necessary for the consultation with the lawyer to be answered in a short time.

The liberal professional lawyer who works basically on his own, although quite competent, has time and specialty limitations – since he has to divide himself among his clients without the help of other lawyers. Likewise, the liberal professional lawyer tends to have in-depth knowledge in a few areas of law, while the law firm can count on professionals from different specialties. Of course, the same applies to small offices. Tip #6 is to hire a law firm, not a professional lawyer, when dealing with more than one legal issue from different areas of law or whenever other legal issues are likely to arise.

7) When should I consult a lawyer?

Tip #7 is to get in the habit of consulting a lawyer. Consulting a lawyer can be convenient in many situations. For example, when there is doubt about the legality of an action when there is a feeling that an injury has occurred, before the execution of a relevant contract, when there is the prospect of being sued in court or when it is possible to anticipate a situation of bank indebtedness, tax, labor or civil. In all these circumstances and many others, it is advisable to consult a lawyer

8) What is the cost to hire a lawyer? What are the payment terms?

The Brazilian Bar Association delegates to the state sections of the OAB the duty to publish minimum remuneration tables for services provided by lawyers, with a view to maintaining the dignity of the profession. This is the famous “Table of the OAB”, existing in Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, among other states.

In cases where the table indicates fees in a determined amount and also in percentage, the determined amount must be understood as the minimum amount usually practiced and the second as the average percentage for the purposes of successful fees. In the absence of specification, 1/3 of the contracted fee must be paid at the time of granting the power of attorney, another as much until the judgment of the first degree, and the remainder at the end of the lawsuit.

It is lawful for the lawyer to contract the provision of services in amounts higher than those provided in this table. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the appropriate fees in advance. However, the suggested criteria are (i) the degree of the zeal of the professional, his renown, experience, and specialization in the matter, (ii) the place where the service is provided, (iii) the nature and importance of the case and (iv) the work performed by the lawyer and the time required for his/her service, as well as the use of technology in the provision of services.

Can a lawyer act for free (free lawyer)? Lack of money often prevents hiring a lawyer. There are three alternatives to overcome the financial difficulty and obtain legal advice: (i) the special civil court, (ii) the public defenders' offices, and (iii) the legal aid offices of the faculties of law. Assistance from public defenders can be obtained by searching for information on their websites, such as the Public Defender's Office of the State of RS, the Public Defender's Office of the State of São Paulo, the Public Defender's Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro or the Public Defender's Office of the Union.

Free legal aid offices are also available on websites such as USP, Universidade Federal do RS or Universidade Federal do RJ. Tip #8 is to understand that the cost of the lawyer is just a criterion for hiring.

9) What precautions should be taken regarding the fee contract?

Care must be taken to ensure that the contract clarifies whether the agreed fees include only the sponsorship of the cause in the first instance or if it also contemplates the filing or response of appeal to the second degree or higher courts, as well as oral arguments.

It is recommended that the lawyer contract his fees in advance and in writing. The fee contract must provide for provisions regulating, among other points, (i) the service to be provided, the value, the form of payment, and the rate of adjustment of the fee amount, (ii) if the remuneration is also composed of a variable part, this will only be required when the condition is effectively satisfied, (iii) the responsibility for the payment of procedural costs and other expenses, including the fees of other lawyers to 

accompany rogatory letters or diligences in districts other than the one in which the case is processed, as well as the filing and oral support of appeals in the Second Degree of Jurisdiction or Superior Courts, are on behalf of the client and (iv) if the case requires services outside the headquarter district, the lawyer will be exempt from the right to execute it personally or by replacement, bearing the customer, in any case, with all judicial or extrajudicial expenses, as well as transportation, food, and accommodation. tip#9 suggests being careful about the fee contract.

10) Does the lawyer have an obligation to win the case?

In summary, the performance of advocacy is a means of activity, not a result. The obligation of means is one in which the obligee (the lawyer) has a duty to perform the contracted activity with diligence, and zeal and with the use of expertise and technique to achieve the contracted objective. In other words, the contractor is not bound to a certain result.

The obligation of means is opposed to the obligation of result. In the obligation of result, the obligee commits himself to a certain result. For example, the mechanic hired to fix an engine. Even if diligence, zeal, and the use of good technique are employed, if the engine is not repaired, payment will not be due.
In order to hold the lawyer responsible for the loss of a case, it is necessary for the injured party to prove the illegal conduct, and must demonstrate that he did not act with the diligence and care necessary for the correct execution of the contract. Therefore, tip #10 is to understand that the hired lawyer is not obligated to obtain a favorable result – an understanding that can avoid unnecessary frustrations.


Having made these considerations, the person seeking legal assistance can understand the convenience of hiring appropriate advice for their problem. If it is a one-off question, a professional lawyer can provide adequate answers. Those who follow the careful routine above tend to be most successful in hiring legal counsel. Good luck!

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