What to look for when searching for a lawyer?
There is a reason why lawyers are also called advocates and counselors. They have a professional commitment to counsel you to the best of their ability, fight legally on your behalf, and keep an open line of communication.
Great attorneys who use ethical and cost effective means to represent you are available in every state.
However, an attorney is only as good as the one you choose. There are many factors that play an important role in deciding upon the right attorney. Here are some of the key aspects that you should consider when looking for the most suitable lawyer for your needs.
This is an important determining factor in finding a lawyer. The right attorney would have experience in representing clients in the area of your legal requirement. For instance, if you injured your hand on the job, then you need a really good worker’s compensation attorney specializing in that area.
It is an added benefit if the attorney has represented other people previously who experienced a similar situation as yours.
You need to make sure that you identify the broad area of law regarding your particular legal need. You cannot hire a car accident lawyer if you want success with something that requires a maritime law specialist.
Different attorneys represent different categories of clients. For instance, some lawyers have experience representing only plaintiffs while others have experience with defendants.
Likewise, there are some who only handle divorce proceedings or personal injury claims, while others have the experience and experience with business disputes. It is vitalthat you find an attorney who has the right skill sets, knowledge,and experience torepresent you.
This is a key factor because sometimes legal cases can take a long time to come to a conclusion. You would want to find an attorney whose services you can hire without disrupting your financial situation very substantially.
The ideal time to discuss fee structure is at the initial meeting before you retain the attorney’s services.
You may not want to hire a lawyer only to find out later that he or she is charging you by the letter or for each hearing. You may steer clear of such situations where a lawyer could potentially use it to their advantage while dragging a case unnecessarily.
You should always aim for getting an estimate in writing. This would curtail surprises at a later date. If possible, get an attorney to provide you with a written estimate of the maximum legal costs likely to be incurred.
Most attorneys prefer signing contracts and providing estimates to their clients from the outset. It is recommended that you at least get a signed estimate in writing even if your attorney does not offer you the contract.
‘Fair price’ is determined as per individual cases. However, your lawyer should demand a fee in sync with the industry standards. For instance, buying a local business can incur attorney fee in the range of $2,000 to $4,000. It may not be prudentto retain a lawyer who demands $6,000 in this situationin the age of tax cuts and a strong economy.
Size of the Firm
There are pros and cons of hiring big sized firms or dealing with a solo office. There are many advantages that can be accrued from online directories as well. You need to identify your needs and requirements from the outset.
Big sized firms might have the legal resources and combined capabilities. However, they also have numerous cases to juggle on top of partner obligations. They might not be able to afford all their clients with personal attention that solo attorneys can provide.
On the flip side, many opposing attorneys and judges respect large reputable firms. These firms typically have an ability to influence judgment with their intimidation quotient from cases won in the past. They also have greater resources and manpower to research your case and craft out a strategy.
In short, it is important that you weigh in all the pros and cons while deciding on the size of a firm. Use the crucial initial meeting to understand whether an attorney and his team can help you win or not.
Comfort Level and Communication
You should feel comfortable and open with your lawyer. This helps you share sensitive information about the case that might tip the scales in your favor. A lawyer can help you only if you are completely honest, frank and forthcoming about all the details.
Many cases like a divorce proceeding can last for months, if not years. You need an attorney who stays in regular touch with you and does not dump your case file at the bottom of the pile. You do not want to retain the services of a lawyer who avoids your phone calls or does not reply back to mails.
A simple way to test a firm’s commitment to your cause is to send them a mail right after your initial consultation. You could withhold a couple of questions from the initial consultation to ask later inyour email.
If the firm responds promptly within a day or two, then you know they care about their clients. However, if it takes weeks for them to get back to you, then they might just be too busy to take on your case and you should search for another attorney.
Located in the Jurisdiction Area
The right attorney will ideally be located in the jurisdiction area where you require representation. Often, attorneys have associate counsel in other jurisdictions and states to help them file responsive pleadings or to commence suit.
However, that is not a very efficient method of legal counsel. If you are choosing a new attorney then you should preferably seek one who is located and licensed in the proper jurisdiction area.
You should conduct an online search on all shortlisted attorneys even before you meet them for the first time. These reviews and comments will empower you in making the right decision.
You should look for any malpractice accusations, complaints or misconduct charges filed against the attorney. This can be found on your state’s bar association website.
Many factors go into the decision of finding the right lawyer. Competence, trustworthiness, experience,and fair pricing are some of the critical considerations.