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What Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Do?

Civil rights lawyers protect individuals and groups from discrimination and other civil rights violations through lawsuits and settlement negotiations. Your civil rights include:
Freedoms of speech, religion, assembly
The right to petition the government
The right to procedural due process
Freedom from discrimination for protected classes, which are characteristics such sex, race, and national origin

How Do I Know If I Need a Civil Rights Lawyer?

You may want to meet with a civil rights lawyer if any of your civil liberties have been violated. A civil rights lawyer can help you if you've been mistreated based on characteristics such as race, religion, gender or disability. Some common cases of civil rights violations include:
  • Unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Cruel and unusual punishment
  • Losing a job or being passed over for a promotion due to discrimination
  • Abuse by a public official
  • Any discrimination based on a superficial quality or belief
Civil rights laws are complicated. Often you need to file a claim with the government before filing a lawsuit. If you think you have been discriminated against, it's a good idea to consult with a civil rights attorney to figure out your next steps.

How Much Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Cost?

Lawyers use various methods of billing, but many civil rights lawyers charge either an hourly rate or a contingency. Contingency means that you will not have to pay anything up front but your lawyer will take a percentage if you win your case. If you don't win, your lawyer won't receive any payment. Usually lawyers only use this form of payment you have a strong chance of winning a sizeable sum of money. Talk with your lawyer and set up a billing structure and fee up front.

What Should I Expect When Working with a Civil Rights Lawyer?

Civil rights laws are complicated and it may be hard to prove a violation. If your claim of discrimination is contested, your case can be a long process. Generally you'll be suing for damages instead of seeking to change rules or regulations. A civil rights attorney can advise you on your chances of winning your case and the timeline you can expect.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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