How and where to get legal help in the Volunteer State
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are currently 18,818 licensed attorneys in Tennessee.
Attorneys licensed to practice law in the Volunteer State have 3 things in common:
- They’ve received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution,
- They’ve received a juris doctor from an ABA-accredited law school, and
- They’ve passed the bar exam.
Nevertheless, saying that all lawyers in Tennessee are the same is like saying the Ryman Auditorium is just like any other music venue.
In this article, we’ll help you find the right attorney for your Tennessee personal injury case.
Do you need an attorney?
Before we get started, it’s worth asking yourself whether you actually need an attorney. If you’re involved in a minor accident or dispute, you may not need representation. It may be quicker and more cost-effective to file an insurance claim yourself or take your case to small claims court.
On the other hand, if you suffered significant damages, you may want to consider meeting with an attorney.
CHECKLIST: Do I need an attorney?
You should strongly consider hiring an attorney if ANY of the following statements are true:
- You sustained a serious physical injury
- Multiple people were injured in the accident
- Someone died in the accident
- You suffered non-economic losses (pain and suffering, emotional trauma, etc.)
- There’s a dispute as to who’s liable for the accident
- The paperwork associated with the accident isn’t accurate (police report, insurance report, etc.)
- Details of the case are complicated or overly technical (medical malpractice cases, etc.)
- The insurance company is not cooperating
Finding a Tennessee attorney—where do I begin?
There are 2 common ways to find an attorney in Tennessee:
1. Finding an attorney through word of mouth
When looking for an attorney, don’t hesitate to ask your family, friends, and colleagues. Most attorneys will provide references or client testimonials if you ask, but there’s nothing more credible than a recommendation from someone you know and trust.
2. Finding an attorney through an online directory
There was a time when prospective clients found attorneys by leafing through the yellow pages. For the most part, those days are long gone. Today, the easiest way to find an attorney is through an online directory. One option is the free online directory right here on Enjuris.
The Enjuris directory allows you to browse licensed attorneys near you. For each attorney, you can click on their profile, which will provide you with their biography, contact information, and other important details.
Another option is the Tennessee State Bar Attorney Directory. Every attorney licensed to practice in Tennessee is listed in this directory.
You can also contact the Tennessee State Bar Lawyer Referral Service. The service will put you in touch with a pre-screened lawyer who will provide an initial consultation for a small fee.
Are free or reduced-cost legal services available in Tennessee?
Before you conclude that you can’t afford an attorney, consider the fact that most Tennessee personal injury attorneys represent clients on a contingency fee basis. A contingent fee is a fee that is contingent on the outcome of the matter.
In other words, your attorney will take a percentage of any money you recover (usually between 20-40%), but you won’t owe them anything if you don’t recover any damages.
If you still don’t think you can afford an attorney, there are a number of options that may be available to you depending on your circumstance and location:
- Memphis Area Legal Services
- West Tennessee Legal Services
- Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands
- Southeast Tennessee Legal Services
- Legal Aid of East Tennessee
- Community Legal Center
- Tennessee Justice Center
- Disability Law and Advocacy Center
- Southern Migrant Legal Services
- Justice for Our Neighbors of Tennessee
Preparing for your first meeting with a Tennessee attorney
Locating a lawyer or law firm near you is a good first step, but you want to make sure you find the right lawyer. This is where initial consultations come in handy.
Initial consultations allow you to meet with several attorneys to discuss your case. Most initial consultations are free and allow you to get a feel for the attorney and whether they’re someone you want to spend the next few months (or possibly years) working with.
To make the most of your initial consultation, it’s important to come prepared to talk about your case. Our free downloadable worksheet can help you prepare for your initial consultations:
Additionally, you’ll want to come prepared to ask your attorney some questions. Remember an initial consultation is essentially a job interview where you will be deciding whether to hire the attorney and they’ll be deciding whether they want to take your case. Our personal injury attorney interview worksheet can help you figure out what questions to ask:
Finally, when you’re ready to make a decision, be sure you understand the art of negotiating personal injury lawyer costs.