As a rule, if you are involved in any matter that has a legal aspect it is best to at least have the phone number of a good solicitor handy, and preferably speak to them about the case. However, some situations are so serious that you will absolutely need to have a legal expert with you at every step of the way.

In general if you are charged with a serious crime (i.e. one that could carry jail time) then you need to speak to the best criminal lawyer in Sydney that you can find. Beyond these, however, there are numerous other situations where you should make sure that you have a good barrister available to you – here are four of the main ones.

1. Divorce

If you are going through a divorce, you will need to have someone to walk you through the process and to help you to make the best of a bad situation. This is especially true when the assets to divide are complicated or contested, or there is a dispute about custody.

Getting good legal advice and representation can be the difference between a reasonable custody arrangement and losing contact with your children, and can impact the property division quite substantially. Asset division in Australia is almost never a 50/50 split, despite what pop culture would have us believe, so you will get a better outcome with a strong lawyer on your side.

2. A lawsuit

If you are suing somebody else then you will almost certainly already have a legal representative, but if you are the one being sued then you will need to find one fast. Even if you have every intention of settling out of court, the amount you end up paying can be substantially reduced by getting good legal advice.

If what you are being sued for could have ramifications extending into criminal law, then you will need to look for the best criminal lawyer in Sydney to help you to plan your approach and minimise possible future consequences.

3. A DUI charge

If you test positive to driving with a higher BAC than .05, or you drive with any trace amounts of illicit drugs in your system, you need a lawyer. Even though jail time is rare for these offences in NSW unless you cause an accident, you are likely to face a large fine and lose your license for a period of time without legal help.

Often a drink driving offence can be pled down to a section 10 (where no conviction is recorded or punishment imposed), particularly if this is your first offence, or you can be fined but avoid having your driver’s licence cancelled.

Drug driving charges are more complicated, as if any amount of illicit drugs is detected in your system you will automatically be charged. The best criminal lawyers in Sydney can still help you, however.

Some drugs, such as marijuana, remain detectable in your system long after they have ceased to impact your driving ability – up to 3 weeks in some cases. You may be able to get off the charge if this is the situation you are in, or have a conviction reversed on appeal.

4. Wills

Whether you are writing a will or involved in a dispute over one, getting a good solicitor can help to streamline the process. If you are writing your will, then you can get help in making sure that everything is legal and that the document is clear. This will reduce the chance that your family will start fighting over inheritance after you pass away.

If you are involved in a dispute over a will – whether you are contesting or trying to uphold the document – then a quality solicitor will help you to negotiate with the other parties and try to find a satisfactory outcome. If a compromise cannot be reached, then you will need their help to prepare for a court battle.

These are four situations where you need to get quality legal advice in order to protect yourself and ensure you get the best possible outcome. Other situations such as workplace discrimination and insurance disputes can often be dealt with yourself, with help from the Fair Work Commission and relevant tribunals.

Remember, apart from the above situations, you will need to hire the best criminal lawyer in Sydney that you can find if you are charged by police with a serious crime. A criminal law specialist will be able to help you with things like bail and, if necessary, plea-bargain your way into a lesser offence.

For any legal matter it will almost always still be useful to at least get advice from a solicitor, so you should try to make this your starting point no matter what is going on.