What is Legal Representation?

B. Miller

Legal representation refers to the function of a licensed attorney in representing an individual or business in court proceedings. The attorney will argue the case on the client's behalf, and in many cases will speak entirely for the client to ensure that the case is presented properly, and in his or her favor. An individual might secure legal representation for a number of different reasons; criminal trials, for example, or even for more minor issues such as divorces or lawsuits, just to name a few. It is important that the client and the lawyer are able to work successfully together and have an honest partnership free of any conflicts of interest; otherwise, an individual might need to find a different lawyer.

A free consultation can be a good way to decide whether a particular lawyer will be an appropriate legal representative.
A free consultation can be a good way to decide whether a particular lawyer will be an appropriate legal representative.

A client seeking legal representation should be prepared to pay for it. Legal fees and the hourly fees charged by a lawyer can vary drastically depending on the type of case and the extent of the work required, but is generally fairly expensive. Some lawyers will work with clients to create payment plans, but this is relatively rare. Other lawyers might take on certain cases pro bono, or a public defender might be assigned to defend an individual in a trial if he or she cannot afford legal representation.

Any information shared with a legal representatives is meant to be confidential.
Any information shared with a legal representatives is meant to be confidential.

It is the job of the attorney to protect the interests of the client while not compromising his or her own ethical beliefs or doing anything illegal. This is why it is important for clients to be completely honest with their lawyers, and to communicate regularly to fully understand what is happening in the case or to share new information. If a conflict of interest is discovered, or the attorney learns that pertinent information is being withheld, he or she is within her rights to withdraw legal representation, and require the client to find someone else. The attorney may or may not assist the client in finding a new source of legal representation, but generally must surrender any documents related to the case.

When seeking legal representation, it is important to meet with the attorney first in order to verify that he or she is competent and will do a good job representing the client's interests. Some attorneys will offer free consultations, which can be a good time to determine this. A good attorney will be happy to answer questions and discuss any concerns, as well as sharing the details of the case every step of the way, and will keep all discussions confidential.

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Discussion Comments


@Bhutan - That is really nice that your friend does that. There are a lot of people that are so intimidated by the law and really need good legal representation, but don’t know where to turn because legal advice is usually pretty expensive.

I know that many personal injury attorneys will not charge you for their services until they win the case. As a result they only take on cases that they think that they can reasonably win.

They usually take about a third of the settlement which can be high because some of these personal injury cases can award compensatory and punitive damages. The punitive damages alone could be in the millions. These personal injury law firms are everywhere. They usually advertise on television and most firms have multiple law offices serving the city.


I wanted to say that there are some legal aid services that offer free legal advice and representation for clients that are poor. My friend offers free legal representation to people that have difficulty with their landlord and may be facing an eviction.

She works strictly with clients that live in many of the New York City boroughs and really helps to make positive changes in the lives of her clients. She was telling me that there was a case about an elderly woman that lived with a few cats that had a rent controlled apartment for about forty years.

The landlord wanted to evict the women because he wanted this larger apartment for herself. This case went to a jury trial and you can guess what happened.

The jury took one look at the little old lady and ruled in her favor. My friend was telling me that there were other cases in which many of these tenets were living in rat infested apartments which was clearly a health code violation in New York.

The New York Bar recently honored my friend for her contributions to this area of public interest law. It is really nice that you can do something like this that you love and still help those people that are underprivileged.

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