When you find yourself faced with a legal issue, the steps you take next can literally impact the rest of your life. Hiring a legal professional – and doing it the right way – is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
Not sure how to hire an attorney for your case? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for ten must-know tips that will make hiring an attorney easy.
1. Ask for Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a good attorney is to ask people you trust for recommendations. Start with family and friends – ask if they’ve had a positive personal experience with an attorney in the area of specialty you’re looking for.
If you have a relationship with an attorney who works in a different specialty, he or she may also be able to give you a recommendation. For example, your business lawyer probably can’t help with a personal injury case, but he may be able to refer you to a great personal injury lawyer.
Use these recommendations to create a short list of three to five attorneys who you’ll investigate further before making a decision.
2. Do Online Research
Next, it’s time to hop online and start doing some research about each of the attorneys on your list. Check Google reviews and at least a couple of the lawyer review sites – like Lawyers.com and Justia.
It’s also a good idea to take a look through the lawyer’s website and their social media – including the reviews section. Remember that you can’t please everyone, so don’t put too much weight into one or two bad reviews, but if you start to see a pattern, consider crossing that lawyer off your list.
3. Schedule a Consultation
Once your research is done, narrow down your list to the top three, then call to schedule consultations. Most attorneys will meet with you for at least a brief consultation without charging you.
Pay attention to whether the person who answers the phone is polite and accommodating. When you arrive at the office, notice whether the location is convenient and whether you feel comfortable in the space.
4. Ask the Right Questions
When you sit down with the lawyer, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions prepared. This will ensure that you make good use of the time you have and that you don’t forget anything important.
Some of the questions you’ll want to ask include:
- Do you specialize in cases like mine?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you feel that I have a strong case?
- How much do you think my case is worth?
- How often do you take cases to court vs. setting?
- Who will be handling my case?
- How and when will I need to pay?
Look for an attorney who is honest and upfront when answering your questions. Don’t be afraid to take notes, as you’ll want to compare the interviews with each of your top three options and remembering who said what could become a challenge.
5. Assess fees and Costs
You never want to hire an attorney based on cost alone, but, of course, price does matter. Ask the attorney to thoroughly explain their fees, and, if possible, to provide you with a written summary. Don’t feel like you’re “being cheap,” you deserve to know what you’re paying for and how much it’s going to cost you.
6. Review the Payment Arrangements
There are different ways that your attorney might bill you. Options include:
- Contingency fee – the attorney receives a percentage of what you’re awarded if you win your case.
- Flat fee – a set dollar amount for services. This is common for simple things like writing a will or filing a non-contested divorce.
- Hourly rate – this is a set fee per hour. The final cost will depend on the number of hours worked.
- Retainer – this is a fee you pay upfront. Lawyers often use this to pay expenses and fees associated with trying your case.
It’s important to understand how your attorney bills so you know when and how much you can expect to pay. If you don’t ask these questions, you could end up with an unpleasant surprise.
7. Listen to Your Gut
Once you’ve reviewed all of this information and met with each potential attorney, it’s time to evaluate your experience with each and make a final decision. You’ll use logic for most of this evaluation, but it’s also important to listen to your gut. If you have a really great feeling about one attorney that you met with – if you feel like you trust and believe in him or her – then this is a great indication that you’ve made the right choice.
The same goes for a negative feeling. Even if you can’ quite put your finger on it, if there’s something that just doesn’t seem quite right to you, then move on. There are thousands of lawyers out there, so it makes sense to keep looking until you find one that’s a good fit for you.
Hiring an Attorney is a Critical Decision
Follow these tips for hiring an attorney and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve made an excellent choice. If you need even more information, take a few minutes to scroll through some of our other helpful blog posts!
I’m looking to hire a lawyer from one of the best law firms in Chicago to help my brother with his legal situation, and I found these tips incredibly useful. I also think that doing your research and checking the attorney’s credentials and experience are all crucial steps in finding the right lawyer for your case. Thanks for sharing these must-know tips for hiring an attorney!
Never hire a TV lawyer. They take in thousands of leads and sell them to what ever hack is the highest bidder or they have a marketing arrangement with a local law firm who can’t get cases. Bigger is not better in this case. They concentration on the big easy cases and neglect or settle most cases for a fraction of their value. The industry term is Marketing Mills. Hire a local TRIAL attorney in your area who actual has a history of taking cases to litigation.
Fees and costs are some of the most important things you should consider when it comes to an attorney for sure. If you don’t do that, you could end up spending far more than you anticipated, thus making your case harder to keep up with even before compensation or property settlements come into play. Should I ever find anyone in my family who needs a divorce attorney, I’ll make sure I help them discuss the costs involved.
Wow, I didn’t know that contingency fees are something that can also be involved in hiring an attorney. I’d like to hire one soon because I would like to reorganize my business. I’m sure that there are a lot of legal documents to sort through in order to do that seamlessly.
From my point of view, people who are having difficulty claiming their inheritance must hire an experienced probate lawyer. I also agree with you that they should ask about their fees first. Thank you for sharing the importance of reading some online reviews too.
I like how you said to look at their payment arrangements. My aunt and uncle want to hire an estate planning attorney. I’ll have to let them know these tips once they start searching for one to hire.
My husband and I are looking to hire a tax sale attorney sometime this week. It’s good to know that you should always be familiar with how your attorney bills. We’re definitely going to be looking for someone that we can schedule a free consultation with.
One of my friends needs an attorney for a DUI. I am glad you mentioned how it can be helpful to ask people for recommendations. I will have my friend ask the people around him for referrals of good lawyers.
I like what you said about reviewing information on each potential attorney. I need to get an attorney to help my cousin Vinny immigrate to the US. I’ll have to hire someone who specializes in immigration law.
Thanks for the tip about reviewing the different ways that your attorney might bill you. I’m looking for a criminal defense lawyer for my son since he was charged with drug offenses. I’m hoping that we can find someone who will defend him well.
Why does Rachel Frampton’s family need so many attorneys?
My cousin would like to look for a worker’s compensation lawyer that will be able to help her since she got into an accidnet while working. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance eof asking about their past cases. I also agree with you that fees must be compared too.
My sister would like to hire a business lawyer that may help with the contract s since she will start a company soon. Thank you for this; at least now I’m aware that it will be best to hire an experienced lawyer. Aside from this, you are also right that it will be smarter to seek a brief consultation.
My sister would like to hire a DUI lawyer that will be able to help with her claims since she got into a car accident due to drunk driving. Thank you for sharing here as well that the chosen lawyer must be experienced and know how to handle DUI cases well. I also agree with you that it would be smarter to keep track of their records.
In my view, it is important to be prepared, when dealing with legal issues. That’s why I’m looking for a trustworthy lawyer with whom I feel at ease. I believe your article will assist everyone in accomplishing this goal. One should follow these tips before hiring a perfect lawyer for them. Informative Article!
I never thought about asking people that I know if they know any good attorneys. My brother got a DUI and needs one. Maybe some one from out Church might know a good lawyer.
I’m glad you mentioned how important it is to get to know your final top three attorney’s options before you make a choice. In my opinion, it’s important to be prepared, and even so, when you’re talking about legal issues, you need to be ready. That’s why I want to look for a trustable lawyer that I’m comfortable with. I think your article will help me achieve that. Thanks for your tips on how to hire the perfect attorney for you.
My sister got arrested under the charge of driving while drunk, which is why we have decided to start looking for a lawyer that will be able to help us out. We’ll keep in mind to seek recommendations from our friends and family. Thank you for also suggesting here the importance of checking good reviews about the prospective lawyer.