Tips for Making Sure You Choose A Lawyer Who Is Right For You
You need legal help. The first question you ask, how do you choose a lawyer who will do good job for you? There is no doubt, choosing the wrong lawyer can be devastating to your case. Picking the right lawyer makes a huge difference. Matching the right lawyer to you and your case is critical. Here’s some advice on how to choose the right attorney.
Identify the Right Kind of Attorney
The first think you need to consider is what kind of attorney you need. There are many kinds of lawyers. You want one who is experienced in the kind of case you are facing. You don’t want someone who dabbles. Instead, you want someone who focuses his practice in the area you need help. For example, if you were hurt in a car accident, you need a personal injury attorney. Not someone who sometimes, on occasion, handles car accidents.
Research the Attorney
Once you know what kind of lawyer you need, it is time to perform some research.
Ask Friends and Family
Begin by asking friends and family whether they have ever needed a lawyer or if they know lawyers. Ask whether they were happy with the results. Also, look around for people you know in the community who might be lawyers. Check at your church, your children’s soccer team, everywhere you can. Referrals are a great way to start.
Search on Google
Look online. Search for a lawyer by using the keywords that relate to your needs. For example, if you were injured by a doctor in Philadelphia, you might search for “Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer” in Google. Once you do your search, look at the websites of the firms that interest you. Check and see if the firm offers testimonials from past clients. See what kind of information the website offers about the area for which you need help. Read the bios of the attorneys who handle that area of practice.
As you narrow down your choices, look on sites such as Avvo and conduct general searches on that lawyer’s name on Google. See what you can find. Look also at the disciplinary board’s website and see if the lawyer has ever gotten in trouble for improper ethics.
The next step is to contact the firm and have a phone call or an in person meeting. You want to ask the lawyer questions to make sure he and his firm are right for you. Many times, you will find a lot of answers for these question on the firm’s website. As you look at the site, check and see what you can learn about the firm, its lawyers and their history.
Here are some questions you should get the answers to:
- How long has the lawyer been in practice?
- How long has the firm existed. You don’t want to risk a fly by night operation that might disappear on you.
- Has the lawyer/firm handled your kind of case before? How much experience does the firm have in cases similar to yours?
- What kind of verdicts has the firm obtained? If you have a big case you don’t want a firm that has never obtained large verdicts and settlements.
- Does the firm actually try cases? If you have a case where the insurance company needs to believe you will go to court, you need a firm that has a solid history of litigation. Insurance companies offer less money to firms they are not worried will take a case to trial. Also, if you need to go to court, you want to make sure the firm you hired will try your case. Otherwise you might end up with your case handed off to another firm that you don’t know anything about.
- Does the firm have the finances to handle your case? In a medical malpractice case, for example, there will be a lot of expenses before the case ever sees a settlement offer or trial. If the firm doesn’t have the money to pay out the necessary expenses you might end up short changed in terms of case preparation and trial exhibits. This has a huge impact on your chances for success.
- Is there a fee agreement? Make sure the firm offers a fee agreement and that you are clear on what it states. In a contingency case, will you be expected to pay if you lose? You don’t want any surprises later on. Don’t hire a firm that doesn’t offer a fee agreement.
- Are you comfortable? You want to feel comfortable with the firm. If you aren’t comfortable you won’t feel good throughout the process. You need to feel these are lawyers you can trust.
In the end, you want to choose an attorney and firm who are:
- Competent in the area you need
- Who you trust and has an ethical background
- Can handle your case properly, and has a history of success with your kind of case
If you make sure you have these three things, you will be in a good position to move forward with your case and to feel comfortable while doing so.