Remember the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? This is especially true in law. The law tends to reward those who research, plan, and map out their next step before taking it. Yet some are dissuaded from doing so because of fear of costs and time involved. Others prefer to act now, not wanting to be paralyzed by uncertainty.
Everyday actions always have a risk / reward component to them. Generally speaking, the risk must be understood to appreciate the value of the reward. For example, everyone understands the risks of rushing out the door and leaving their house unlocked or their garage door open. The risk - leaving valuables exposed to the world - may or may not outweigh the reward - say, if you're running late for work or an important meeting.
Other risks, however, may not be easily understood. A recurring cough may be caused by allergies, or it may be a sign that someone's caught a cold, or it could be a symptom of a larger problem. Unfortunately, unless you see a qualified professional, you're not going to know the risk you're facing. The reward - saving money by avoiding a doctor's visit - probably isn't worth the personal risk.
The same is true in the law. Legal risks may not be easily understood. Paying off a traffic ticket without consulting an attorney is a good example. Most people understand that their rates will go up and they'll have to pay the cost of the ticket. But fewer people know that their payment of the fine constitutes a guilty plea that will appear on their criminal record, or that some offenses may result their license being suspended.
An attorney's job is to help clients understand and evaluate these risks by pointing out these issues. By consulting an attorney early in the process, the client may avoid future costs by fully understanding their risk / reward ratio. They'll be happy they chose to go with the ounce rather than the pound.