Tourists visiting Italy search for a unique experience; a restaurant only the locals know about, a museum tucked away in a small alley or a street artist who perfectly captures a scene. No one wants the unique experience of seeing Italy from the inside of jail.
Italy is not as litigious as the US but that does not mean there aren’t times when you need a lawyer.
Sometimes you know in advance you need a lawyer or an avvocato which is Italian for lawyer. Buying a house? You need a real estate lawyer. Have a distant relative living in Italy who died? You need a lawyer with experience in estate transactions.
If you don’t think that can happen, think again, it happened to my family when a relative of my French grandmother died without a will. The family could not sell her house until we approved and we had to find a French lawyer to complete the transaction.
Ok, that was France but I don’t think Italy would be any different, if anything their laws are most likely more convoluted. In our case we asked relatives we had never met for advice on finding a lawyer.
You may need an attorney because of your bad behavior or through no fault of your own.
You will need a lawyer for everything from a minor traffic accident to a DUI to a drug possession charge. Unless you find yourself hauled off to jail where you immediately need to call the nearest US embassy or consulate first and a family member second.
I would start my search for a lawyer by speaking with someone at my hotel.
This is especially true for minor infractions. Staff working at hotels have a wealth of information. They may not know an attorney but they will be able to tell you where to start your search.
Not happy with the advice given by the hotel? Check with a local university that has a law department. Universities are full of people who speak English and though they may not have a lawyer on the faculty that can help you, they may be able to point you in the right direction for finding the type of attorney who can help you.
Along with asking at your hotel or a local university, do an Internet search keeping in mind that the Internet is the Internet. Which means all is not always as it seems.
Just because a lawyer is number one in the search engines does not mean they are the best attorney to help you.
Take the time to look at reviews and verify any claims a lawyer makes on their website.
For issues having to do with passports, being put on the “no fly list”, etc. contact the US embassy. US embassies are located in Rome, Florence, Milan and Naples. There is also an embassy in San Marino which is technically not a part of Italy. Contact the embassy located nearest to you.
Even if you get a personal referral, always Google any names you are given. Even though you are on vacation and would prefer to spend your limited time sightseeing rather than finding an attorney, you need to protect yourself by doing your research.