I commonly practice in most of the counties touching either Phelps or Texas County, and over the years, I have had cases in every single one of the adjacent counties to Phelps or Texas County: Wright, Howell, Shannon, Dent, Douglas, Pulaski, Laclede, Maries, Gasconade, and Crawford.
I have recently announced opening a new center for my practice in Rolla, Missouri. I don’t have a partner, so it’s still just me operating from two locations, Rolla and Houston. If I currently represent you, or if you are looking for an attorney to represent you, what does this mean?
Well, if I represent you already, little changes. I may not be physically present in my Houston Office as many hours a week as I was before, thus making it harder to guarantee a walk-in meeting. Then again, everyone tells me I should be stricter on setting up appointments without walk-ins anyway. I am striving to better my accessibility through timely phone call returns, and I will continue to set up prompt in person meetings when you call to schedule.
If you are searching for an attorney, let’s start with the opening question: I can’t find an attorney in the county where I live. What should I do?
The biggest problem when it comes to locations and attorneys is actually based on state, not county. The majority of attorneys practice in one state only, so if you live in Missouri and someone drags you into a legal matter in another state, chances are, your favorite Missouri attorney won’t be of much help. I have helped some people find an attorney from another state to help them, but after that, I couldn’t do anything else on that particular issue. It is illegal for me to practice law in another state.
But if you have a case pending halfway across the state of Missouri, should you stick with an attorney local to you or local to the courthouse where the case is going to be tried? An attorney local to you might be someone you already know and trust. Also, he or she is a lot easier to meet to discuss the ins and outs of your case. It can be difficult to connect with an attorney whose office is three hours away. Chances are, most of your meetings with your lawyer will be right before going into court after you’ve driven a long way.
On the other hand, your local attorney is probably going to charge you for either or both his travel expense (a certain charge per mile driven) and his usual billable rate for all time spent on the road. A one hour court appearance with three hours of travel will turn into a four hour bill on your invoice. Ouch.
Another factor in favor of finding an attorney nearby the courthouse where your case is pending is that the attorney probably knows the peculiarities of the local judge better than an out of town attorney. This is often a helpful factor in your case.
One final reason sticking with a local attorney has proven comforting to many of my clients over the years is that finding a new attorney to represent you can be a daunting task. I should write a whole blog post just on this topic. So if you have an attorney you know, like, and trust, it can be worth all that travel expense to know that particularly attorney is on your side.
Here in rural Missouri there are other considerations that affect how many counties an attorney practices in.
In rural Missouri, some counties have so few attorneys you can count them all on one hand and maybe have a few free fingers when there are no more attorneys to count. You call these few options, and maybe you find (a) they already have a conflict of interest so they can’t represent you or (b) you just don’t click with them and don’t feel comfortable putting your important legal matter in their hands. For these and other reasons, it is very common for attorneys in rural south central Missourito represent clients in a handful of counties.
The Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall is centered in Rolla, Phelps County Missouri and has its physical office in Houston, Missouri. As a result, any case in Phelps County or Texas County will have no travel time and expense associated with any appearance in Court.
Additionally, I happily serve any county in Missouri. Realistically, this means that anything more than an hour away is probably going to be prohibitively expensive due to travel time and expense. But hey, if you want me to take your case in Hannibal, I’ll be happy to take it. Maybe I’ll squeeze in some time to visit Mark Twain’s birthplace (off the clock, of course).