Before we get into the details, there's one thing you should know. There are two legal categories— criminal law and civil law. While criminal law deals with criminal charges (for which you should definitely get a lawyer without a second thought), civil law deals with issues that violate public/personal interests but are not criminally charged. When it comes to civil law, most people lack the idea on when to consult a lawyer.
For issues like a divorce or conflicts over property or such, you should consult with a lawyer. Before starting a business, it is wise to talk to a lawyer about the legal obligations and documentations that you might require later on. Whenever there are financial interests involved, you should avoid listening to advice from random people. Lawyers have studied and practiced and prepared themselves for years and are experts in dealing with such issues. Do not confuse a layman's advice with a law degree. Make sure your lawyer has a licence.
On an individual level, one should consult a lawyer about the wills and trusts. This saves your family from a lot of legal issues in your absence. It is a good idea to take care of it as soon as you have a child, and also to change it periodically.
You must be wondering how should you handle paying lawyers if you need their counsel regularly? The good news is, unlike other countries in the world, in Bangladesh most lawyers do not charge hourly. Which means you can talk to a lawyer about your issues and requirements without having to pay them immediately. Most lawyers will only charge you after taking care of your legal needs. Their fees will vary depending on which lawyer you choose and their expertise. You should consider the gravity of your legal issue and pick a lawyer accordingly. For wills and similar civil issues, one might be charged based on the documentations.
You can pick a lawyer through recommendations from friends. But remember, always pick a lawyer whom you trust and who meets your requirements. Like your therapist, do not hide anything from your lawyer. Even if the lawyer you are meeting cannot help you, he will recommend you to someone who can. But whoever is your lawyer, once you consult him, you should listen to his advice.
"A lot of cases drag on unnecessarily because the client does not listen to us. Cases that can be closed pretty soon drag on for a long time because they ignore our words," said Mahfuzur Rahman Khan, Advocate at Dhaka Judge Court.
"The legal system in this country is rather slow and if you add the callousness of the clients on top of that, no wonder the cases go on for years," he added.
Remember, you would not treat your broken leg yourself. You will go to a doctor if it is anything more serious than a common cold or fever. Similarly, as soon as you know your legal issue is getting complicated, you should call in the cavalry. Better safe than sorry!
Photo: Amran Hossain
Model: Chaitanya Chandra Halder