It’s hard to turn on the TV or read the local paper without seeing an ad from an attorney asking for your business. It makes choosing an attorney a real challenge – at a time when you are facing plenty of other challenges. After all, you know better than to believe everything (or even anything) that you see in an ad.
So how do you find the lawyer that is right for you?
The first thing to always bear in mind is that choosing the right lawyer for you will take time. Don’t get discouraged. By following this guideline you should be able to find someone who fits your needs.
1. Make A List
Start a list of any potential candidates that you might have. How do you come up with that list? There are many resources you can use.
- Personal Referrals: Ask your friends and family if they have ever used an attorney. This is a great place to start and you might be surprised with how many referrals you obtain.
- Use A Lawyer Referral Service: Many of the local bar associations have a referral service which keeps lists of any lawyers that have signed up with them. Keep in mind that this won’t include every lawyer in the area, only those who have chosen to pay a fee to the association.
- The Internet: You can always search for lawyers online. Be sure to review their website to determine if their firm offers the services you need.
- Ask A Law Librarian: While they may not be able to give you a personal reference, they can direct you towards lawyers in the area who have written books on the type of law you need a lawyer to practice.
It is important that the attorneys you add to your list focus completely on one type of law. Think about it – would you go to a general practitioner and request them to perform heart surgery? No, you would want to see a cardiologist. The same line of thinking applied to lawyers. A lawyer who practices multiple types of law may have a basic understanding of each one but likely won’t have the in-depth knowledge that you need.
2. Meet Your Prospective Lawyers
Before you go to the meetings, make an outline of questions of what you expect, want, and need. Many lawyers offer a free consultation at no charge so that you can learn more about why you should choose to work with them. Before you agree to work with anyone, take into consideration:
- Their Communication Style: How often will they contact you? Will they contact you by e-mail, telephone, or post? Will they return your calls within a certain period of time? Communication is by far one of the most important parts of the lawyer-client relationship and poor communication can make the client suffer.
- Their Fee Agreement: Ask them for a sample of their fee agreement and an explanation of how the contract works.
- Their History: How long have they been in practice? Can they give you examples of successful outcomes that they have obtained for previous clients whose cases were similar to yours?
- Their Willingness To Travel: If you are disabled, it may be impossible or very difficult to travel frequently for meetings with a lawyer.
Bring documents to the meeting so that they can better understand your case and let you know how they would choose to approach the situation.
What To Avoid
You should think twice before working with anyone who pushes you to work with them. A good lawyer will respect that you want to do your research and learn about your options. Also, avoid working with anyone who cold calls you when they find out about your accident.
The bottom line is that you should feel 100% comfortable working with the lawyer you end up choosing.
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