How to Write to a Lawyer for Help

By Irene Finley - Updated June 16, 2017
Man writing a letter using laptop

Obtaining legal assistance can be difficult, especially if you do not have the finances to afford an expensive attorney. In the United States, public defenders are only appointed for criminal defendants. Consequently, if you are in need of legal assistance for a civil law matter or a criminal law matter for which you do not have the right to an attorney, you will need to contact a private attorney. You can find a lawyer by looking in a phone book or calling a lawyer referral service; you may also talk to people you know to get a recommendation. You may then contact that attorney by telephone, in-person and/or by writing a personal letter.

Direct the letter to the attention of “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by the attorney's last name. For example, if you are writing a letter to attorney Michelle Brown, you should begin the letter by writing “Dear Ms. Brown.”

Type or write the letter in neat, legible handwriting. Introduce yourself. State your name, who you are and briefly why you are writing to the lawyer. If, for example, you are currently incarcerated, you should let the attorney know. If you are writing to the lawyer to request his assistance in handling your divorce, you should indicate so.

List the reasons why you think that you have a case and why you need an attorney to assist you. You may want to describe the events leading up to whatever has caused you to face legal issues. You should also identify and explain any evidence that you have that proves your case. If you have experienced any hardship as a result of your situation, explain this in the letter. Do not be afraid to go into detail. The more the attorney knows about you and feels sympathy towards you, the more he may be willing to help you.

Let the attorney know if there is a timetable or deadline that you are facing. If you have a court appearance in the future, advise the attorney of the date and time of the appearance. If any pleadings have been filed in court regarding this matter, include copies of them so that the attorney can review them.

Include your telephone number, address and email address at the end of the letter so that the lawyer knows how to contact you.

Tip

Be polite in the letter. Do not be rude or demanding. The attorney has no obligation to represent you. If you come across as an unpleasant person in the letter, the attorney may decide that you are not someone that she would like to assist.

Warning

If you are sending any documents along with the letter, make sure that you do not send the original versions of those documents. The documents may be important evidence in your case. If the attorney decides not not respond to your letter or misplaces it, your documents will be lost.

About the Author

Irene Finley began writing professionally in 2009, specializing in law, history, travel and cooking. She is a licensed attorney and holds a Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School.

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