Whether in business or in our personal lives, we all find ourselves in need of legal assistance at some point in life, and this has been the case since medieval times. However, not all lawyers are the same. Some will charge higher for their services than others, whereas some specialize only in certain areas of the legal profession. Cases of quack lawyers and attorneys who will do anything to earn an extra buck are not alien. They’ll pretend to be on your side while in the real sense, they’re colluding with your opponent, who happens to be the highest bidder.
But do not panic. In different countries and states, there are bar associations (like the American Bar Association) and other regulators tasked with the mandate of ensuring that legal practitioners are licensed and maintain moral discipline during practice. But then again, we can’t run away from the fact that some lawyers are more qualified, competent, and experienced than others. All these factors combined, make it a bit of a daunting task for many people to choose the right legal representative. This is why we compiled the following tips to guide you in choosing the right attorney. Here’s how to go about it.
Consider Your Specific Legal Needs
Before you even start looking for a lawyer, it is important to note that there are many different legal specializations. An attorney who specializes in business law may not be the most competent legal practitioner to approach when you’re charged with a criminal offense. In this case, a business attorney is what you’ll be looking for. Similarly, a family law attorney may not be the best professional to hire when you have a personal injury matter and you need assistance with filing a compensation claim.
On the latter note regarding personal injury compensation cases, insurance companies can be extremely notorious to handle on your own, especially when chronic injuries are involved in a workplace accident or car crash, for instance. According to personal injury lawyers from Newland & Newland, LLP, being rear-ended can cause chronic injuries such as sciatica. And since chronic injuries can cause long-lasting pain and suffering, it can also cost more to treat and recover from, not forgetting the possibility of income lost during the recovery phase. A good personal injury attorney can help get you the compensation you deserve, one that will cover or the damages suffered, including treatment costs, pain, and even lost income. In this example, you’ll want to work with an attorney that is experienced and well versed in personal injury compensation claims. Otherwise, once you understand your legal needs, choosing a good lawyer becomes easier and less frustrating.
Experience is the best teacher, so they say. In any professional field, you become better at the job as time goes by. Even though you can find a legal newbie who’s extremely excellent at their job, their experience in handling cases and representing clients in trials is the only way they can prove that they’re good at it. Before hiring a particular lawyer, be sure to consider the number of years they’ve been in practice, and precisely, the length of time they’ve been in the specialization of interest as above. With an experienced lawyer, chances of getting a favorable ruling or settlement will be higher.
Lawyer Track Record
Experience is one thing, but excellence in the legal profession is definitely another. There’s no point in hiring a lawyer who has 5 years of experience and they’ve won only 10 percent of the cases they’ve handled. You also don’t want to work with an attorney with dozens of misconduct charges, malpractice accusations, and complaints filed against them. Remember when we mentioned something to do with state bar associations earlier on? Well, this is where the legal regulator’s websites come in handy. Always make sure you conduct lengthy research on the track record of a particular attorney before deciding to hire them. In addition to the information on bar associations, online reviews, testimonials, and information on social media can also be helpful.
Lawyer Fees & Pricing
Well, without sugar-coating things, legal services usually don’t come cheap. As earlier stated, however, different law firms price their services differently. Some charge an hourly rate, whereas others charge based on the type and value of the case. While some will require you to pay an upfront fee, some will wait until they win the case for you before demanding payment. Sometimes, depending on the size of your case or dispute, you may be forced to hire a more expensive counsel. All the same, it’s important to go with an attorney or law firm that provides you with a clear and concise fee structure that includes legal fees and all charges (like court fees, document printing, etc.) you may need to incur on your part. It’s also important to note that while a higher fee may not necessarily mean that the attorney is more qualified, an extremely low fee could be a telltale sign of incompetence or inexperience. For this reason, never hire a lawyer solely considering their pricing.
Many cases require an open line of communication between the attorney and their client. Without proper, consistent, and constant communication, some cases that proceed to trial could cost you more time and money to get solved, if at all you don’t end up losing the case in the first hearing. A good lawyer needs to be a good communicator, answering your calls and SMS in good timing or responding to messages as soon as they get the chance to.
Tour Their Office
Before choosing your lawyer, paying a brief visit to their office can be a good way to assess their level of professionalism. If for instance, you tour the office and you find a chaotic, disorganized, and disorderly space, you’re probably not making the best choice hiring them. On the other hand, a neat, well-organized, and welcoming office with friendly staff can be a good sign that you’re indeed dealing with a professional. It’s best if their office is easily accessible to you, preferably not so far from where you live or work.
Compare and Contrast Using Interviews
Good and bad, there are so many lawyers out there and during your search, you’ll likely have many options to choose from. One of the best ways to narrow down your options for the most suitable candidate is by interviewing your lawyer candidates so you can compare and contrast them to make an informed decision. In your interview, make sure you ask about their experience, the number of cases they’ve won, their fees, and their preferred methods of communication. In addition to these, some questions you can ask a lawyer before hiring them may include:
- Will you provide me with close attention despite high workloads?
- Can I get references from previous clients?
- Within how long would my case be solved?
- Who will my case be assigned to?
- Is it okay to contact you after-hours?
- Any special certifications/skills?
- Do you have malpractice insurance?
It may take a considerable amount of time and effort to find a good one, but the lawyer you choose to work with can have a great impact on your future or that of your business. It’s important to pick a competent lawyer who you can trust and feel comfortable working with. With the above tips, choosing a good lawyer can be a less daunting task, if not a walk in the park.