Practically everyone has a legal issue in their lives at one time or another. Since the law is often complex and the opportunity for mistakes is so great, selecting an attorney to help you through your legal situation is often the wise thing to do.
Except for buying a home or making out a last will and testament, most of us have little need for a lawyer. But, when the situation arises where legal help is needed, we are often in an emotional state that is not conducive to making the best selection. We just want to get through our legal difficulties and get on with life.
But, for many legal issues, your attorney will work with you over a lengthy period of time. Your relationship with your attorney will develop and, hopefully, strengthen as your case develops. Thus, making the right selection of an attorney is vital to a successful working relationship.
What are some factors to look for in choosing an attorney?
First, since your legal difficulty is most likely not simple, you may need an attorney who specializes in cases similar to yours. Some common legal specialties include bankruptcy, criminal law, estate and probate, family law (including divorce), business law (including franchise, taxation, and workers compensation), personal injury, as well as malpractice (including both legal and medical).
Choosing an experienced specialist is often the wise thing to do. While it may be more expensive up front, it can produce better results in the long run.
Second, in any long-term relationship you should get to know the individual you’ll be working with before committing to the relationship. Make sure your prospective attorney provides a free consultation so you can get to know him or her. Get a sense of their interest in your case and try to determine the degree to which the attorney will be helping you through the process. Getting that personal attention can make a big difference in the outcome.
Your attorney should be able to help you understand the process and work with you during the case. Make sure your attorney has the time to meet with you when issues arise or you have questions about your case.
Third, make sure you understand all the fees and billing rates as well as your required payments for services rendered. You should discuss this at your first free consultation. If you have any questions about the attorney’s compensation, this is the time to make everything crystal clear.
Fourth, look for testimonials from satisfied clients. Many attorneys have websites that provide space for clients to describe their experiences with the attorney. Ask your prospective attorney for references you can talk with about the handling of their cases.
You may need to set up initial consultations with several attorneys so you can intelligently compare one attorney with another. By understanding how several attorneys will handle your case you can then choose the right attorney for your needs and budget.