Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 7, 2010

22% of Americans Need a Lawyer

FindLaw, Lawsuits, Estate Planning and Housing the Most Common Legal Issues:

One in five Americans faced a legal issue in the last year that could have involved hiring an attorney, according to a new national survey by, the most popular legal information Web site.

Twenty-two percent of American adults say they had a legal issue in the last year that potentially warranted hiring an attorney.

More than one out of every 10 Americans (12%) say they did hire a lawyer in the last year. Eleven percent said they could have hired a lawyer to handle their legal issue but elected not to. And 5% said they tackled the issue by representing themselves and appearing in court without a lawyer.

The most common legal issues faced by people in the last year were: *

  • Lawsuit or civil law: 25%
  • Estate planning or wills: 22%
  • Housing: 20%
  • Personal injury: 15%
  • Traffic violation or DUI: 12%
  • Bankruptcy or financial: 10%
  • Criminal: 9%
  • Employment: 8%
  • Divorce: 7%
  • Discrimination: 5%
  • Other: 25%

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Yes, but can they pay the bill? Most people cannot or will not pay the bill. Law seems to be the only profession where not paying your legal bill is deemed acceptable. Lawyers also have bills to pay.

Posted by: JPM | Jan 7, 2010 6:54:42 AM

I agree with JPM above...
Sure many people need wills, POAs, or general legal advice but will they pay for it.

I have helped many clients and many have not paid.

Yes all my lawyers tell you to get the money upfront...but that is easier said than done...

I often do work and then bill for it, because otherwise I may loose the client...

We need to learn from MDs even if national health care passes they are guaranteed jobs...

Posted by: Yes ...but.... | Jan 7, 2010 11:40:00 AM

Yeah, JPM's comment is true. I do controversy work for working folks quite often and if I don't get it up front, I'm not getting it. It's a de facto flat fee.

I have been told several times by clients that I do not need their money because I am a rich lawyer. It makes me want to scream and pound my head against the wall. In Dec. 2009 I brought in $2,000 and am starting to worry about losing my house. Normally I do a lot of tax planning and wills/trusts at the end of the year, but not this year. I just went to a local bar meeting, and four of the seven lawyers at my table had a part-time gig teaching as adjuncts at this or that JuCo. Wish I could get one, even though the pay is abysmal it would help.

I'm here to testify that when people lose their jobs (or think they will) they stop using lawyers.

Posted by: kansas | Jan 7, 2010 11:53:12 AM

Golly, you know if I add the U-6 Unemployed/Underemployed number to the percentage of Americans in prison, I get something close to 22% of Americans as well! I wonder if that's the same people, and if so, I can't wait until they call me!!

Posted by: Ben | Jan 9, 2010 5:16:54 PM