You should select a lawyer with caution, just as you would an accountant or a contractor. You will not only be exchanging sensitive information with this individual, but you will also be trusting them to give you appropriate legal advice and steering you through a situation that you would not be able to handle on your own.
There are several things to consider before choosing the lawyer that is right for you and your legal situation, ranging from credentials and cost to the field of law and where both you and they are based.
Here, we look at some of the things that you should be taking into consideration when choosing a lawyer.
Are You Looking For A Short-term Or Long-term Relationship With Your Lawyer?
Before you start searching online or asking coworkers, peers, or family for recommendations, you should first work out exactly what it is you need from your lawyer. Why do you want the services of a lawyer? Do you have a legal issue that you are unable to address on your own - perhaps you have ended up being found in possession of narcotics and need someone to represent you in court? This may be more of a short-term relationship in that when the matter is finished, so has the relationship with your lawyer. Or, perhaps you have recently started up a business and need someone to manage all of the legal side of it, and so are looking for a partnership that is ongoing.
Do You Need Someone Who Specializes In A Particular Area Of The Law?
Lawyers tend to specialize in specific fields of law because the law, like medicine, is a vast area of knowledge. Some might be more knowledgeable in business, while others handle criminal or civil rights. Some are the go-to for real-estate or immigration affairs but wouldn't be able to help with accident and injury claims.
Lawyers who are available to a wide variety of circumstances are known as general practice attorneys. These lawyers tend to work in smaller communities where legal help is often limited due to a lack of resources or need.
Do They Have A Good Reputation?
If you are looking for a lawyer, the chances are that you have a lot at stake, whether it is your freedom, business, or money. This is why it is vital to do your due diligence before hiring a lawyer and checking out their reputation. Do not be afraid to ask them for referrals from clients that they have worked with previously, although be aware that they cannot give you personal details for confidentiality and data protection reasons. Ask around your local community - work colleagues, networking groups, family, and friends - and check on social media and online review websites to see what people have been saying about them.
Where Are You Based?
In the United States, the law can often vary from state to state, so where you and your lawyer are based is important. A good lawyer should have a general understanding of the laws across the whole country, but you want someone who is familiar with the specifics of your state and county, so be aware of this. Obviously, if you live rurally, you may be more limited in your options and have to conduct much of your communication via telephone or online, but where possible, have a lawyer that you are able to meet face to face where possible. This will help you to build up a good relationship with them.
Do They Have The Experience That You Need?
Choose an attorney who has handled cases similar to yours in addition to someone with a background in the field of law you need. Simply asking them or visiting their business's website will provide you with information about their practice history (if they have one). A lawyer with more experience could be more beneficial, but only if their experience is important to your situation and budget.
You might be able to interview a lawyer and find out more about their background to see if they are eligible to take on your case. Inquiring about their expertise, communication skills, and, most importantly, their ability to assist you will provide you with valuable information. It also gives you an inkling as to whether you will be able to get along with one another.
How Big Is The Firm?
The size of the law firm may influence your decision in a variety of ways. Larger companies are typically more prominent and have more resources, but they may also be more expensive. Smaller firms can be more intimate and potentially less costly, but their services may be limited if they do not specialize in the field of law that you need.
How Much Do They Cost?
Inevitably, the expense will be a consideration when hiring a lawyer. It is entirely up to you how much money you are willing to spend. You will obtain more details ahead of time by asking the lawyer for a quote and discovering how they charge their clients. It may be an hourly rate, a flat fee, a contingency fee, a negotiable fee, or even a retainer for future payments. Check to see if the fee covers any charges such as filing and travel, as these costs are not necessarily considered the same and can be charged extra.
If you are uncomfortable with the quote or the price is out of your price range, shop around and ask the same questions. When you finally decide on a firm or a lawyer, make sure the cost terms are transparent, and don't be afraid to discuss price so there are no surprises. You may also want to verify all costs in writing.
How Compatible Are You?
Although there are several professional factors to consider when selecting a lawyer, their personality should also be considered. Find someone that you can trust and who makes you feel at ease. Mutual respect is also important. A lawyer who can work tirelessly for you, use sound judgment, and be thorough and caring during the process is an invaluable advantage.