When you need a lawyer–you need a lawyer, and there is really no substitute for a good one. If that’s where you are, it might be time to start selling your stuff.
But sometimes you just need legal advice–like how to write a contract
that will stand up in court, or how to draft the by-laws for your new non-profit so you get your 501(c)3 status or even how to write a lease that is fair to you your tenants.
Often when you need that kind of advice, you have way more time than you have money*.
To borrow a phrase, there’s a book for that. Or rather, a series of books.
I discovered the NOLO Law Series when I was looking for step-by-step advice on starting a non-profit organization. The book was exactly what our cause needed: clear, straight forward explanations of the whole incorporation process and and most importantly a clear demarcation between the stuff we could easily do ourselves and the places where real, human, legal advice was recommended. The books also include a CD-ROM of all the forms and boiler-plates covered in the text so as we worked though the stack of paperwork required for incorporation, we never had to start from scratch.
Since then, whenever I run across legal questions, I check NOLO first.
*If you are 100% broke you can even borrow many books in this series from your local library. The only downside is you have finish your work before the book is due back. I usually borrow the books from the library first and then end up buying a copy later.