How do I choose a lawyer that is right for me?
If you come to a point in your life when you need a lawyer, you’ll likely be at the end of a long and difficult process. While commercials might make finding a lawyer seem as simple as picking up a phone, the real process is somewhat more difficult. Your lawyer is more than just a person who might present your case – he or she is a person with whom you will work over the next weeks or month to solve a problem in your life. If you wish to hire the right lawyer for you, it’s important that you start by asking the right questions.
Where is He or She Located?
This is a very basic question, but one that’s very important to ask. Where a lawyer is located can tell you quite a bit about how he or she will work with you. Is it convenient for you to visit his or her office? Are you visiting the lawyer at a forgotten outpost of a much larger firm? Is the lawyer located near other business professionals, or in a remote area? While the way the office looks isn’t terribly important, where it’s located might be. If you can’t see yourself working with someone there, it’s probably not a place you want to bring your business.
How Long Has He or She Practiced?
It’s always a good idea to know a bit about the background of the person who will represent you. Take some time to figure out if your attorney is new to the legal game or if he or she has been practicing for several years. There are certainly some newly minted attorneys who are spectacular at what they do, but it’s usually safer to err on the side of experience. Make sure you know not only how long the individual has been practicing, but also how long he or she has been practicing in the specific area of law relevant to your case. In many circumstances, expertise in one area does not transfer easily to other areas.
What is Billing Like?
The dreaded question of cost is one that matters when it comes to figuring out if a lawyer is right for you. It’s not the amount he or she charges that’s necessarily important, but rather how he or she will bill you. If the lawyer is willing to bill you on a schedule that works with your finances, you’ve taken a step closer to finding someone with whom you will be able to work. If he or she has a policy that doesn’t work for your bank account, though, it may not matter how qualified he or she may be. Take some time to figure more out about how you will be billed to figure out if you should move forward with that attorney.
What’s the First Meeting Like?
Finally, take some time to consider what your first meeting with the attorney is like. Does he or she seem personable? Did he or she listen to your questions, or did the lawyer seem to be disinterested? A lawyer who cares about you is a lawyer who is better suited to help you. There’s nothing wrong with passing on an attorney just because you don’t feel like the two of you gel on a personal level – indeed, doing so might save you both a great deal of aggravation in the future. If you are willing to meet with an attorney face to face to talk about your case, you can get a feeling for how he or she operates.
What Have Others Said?
In the age of social media and online review boards, it’s very easy to get a recommendation for an attorney. It’s even easier, though, to find out information about how the attorney operates. Spending some time online will give you a good view of how the attorney works and what others have said about him or her. Don’t depend on this as a primary resource, as the information may not be totally reliable – but don’t be afraid to check up on an attorney if you want to be sure about his or her performance.
At the end of the day, figuring out if an attorney is right for you is a deeply personal matter. Asking the right questions will set you on the path to finding a lawyer with who you will be able to work. Once you have the right attorney-client relationship started, you will be able to move forward with your legal matters in a more comfortable and confident manner.