Choosing the right lawyer can be likened to choosing a spouse—your full trust and confidence in this person is key to your relationship.
Considering your lawyer acts on your behalf in business and legal matters, it’s important to take your time to select the right fit. Here are some tips for finding the perfect attorney.
Finding a match. Find a lawyer who has expertise in the legal matter you’re dealing with. For example, an attorney who mostly deals with immigration cases is the wrong person to hire for a criminal case.
It’s the small things. Pay careful attention to your lawyer’s office space. Do they have client files laying out? This would indicate their lack of concern about client privacy and protecting confidential information. Have you read their reviews? Do they have a good reputation? When in doubt, ask the attorney for a few references and then call them. Take note if the attorney is condescending or patronizing. If you do not mesh with this person, move on.
Money. Many attorneys will give you a free estimate of the time and money they think your legal issue will cost. Feel free to shop around before making your final choice. Once you have decided on your lawyer, make sure you understand their fee arrangement. The four most common fee schedules are: by the hour, on contingency, flat fee or paying a retainer. Obtain your final agreement in writing, and make sure it’s signed.
Insurance. Be sure your attorney carries professional liability insurance.
Communication. You want to ensure that your attorney has ample time to answer your questions and that he or she can do so in a manner that you understand. In addition to their ability to be able to communicate clearly with you about your case, they should also speak in clear terms to the defense counsel, judge and jury.
Ask questions. Below are six questions to ask an attorney.
- How long have you practiced law?
- How many cases have you represented that were similar to mine? How many have you won?
- What is your approach to winning or representing a case?
- Are there alternative ways to solve my legal problem?
- How will you let me know what’s happening with my case?
- What is the likely outcome in my case?