How to Choose a Lawyer That’s Right For You?
The process of choosing a good attorney suited to your legal needs is similar to the process of doing extensive research for an argumentative essay. When in doubt, just think back on those grueling hours of essay-writing in college. Remember, you’re looking for an attorney who can serve as an expert source of information and provide the resources you need to help you argue your case.
Finding good legal talent may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re wondering how and where you can find a lawyer who’s right for you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss how to choose a lawyer who will be the best fit for you and your legal needs.
Identifying Your Legal Needs
Before beginning your search, you’ll want to delineate your precise legal needs. You’re not just looking for any good attorney; you’re looking for the attorney best equipped to handle your specific situation.
In order to find tailored legal services, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what kind of legal counsel your case entails, as well as what your goals are in terms of advisement, negotiation, and resolution.
Time to Lawyer Up?
For starters, you need to answer this simple yet pressing question: do you even need a lawyer?
The list of potential reasons why you might need legal representation is lengthy. Start with learning about what lawyers do. Whether you are facing litigation, seeking business advice, in need of criminal defense, or want some guidance navigating complex regulatory systems, a lawyer can do wonders to protect and represent your interests.
However, not all legal matters require professional help. For example, some legal paperwork can be filed independently, and some minor infractions don’t necessitate representation. Because attorneys can be expensive, make sure you know the nature of your problem, why you need a lawyer to solve it, and what concerns you want to be addressed before making a significant investment.
Different Types of Lawyers
Once you’ve outlined the particulars of your case, you can start looking into law firms and attorneys who specialize in the area of practice relevant to your matter. Specialized attorneys are ideal because they will have experience with similar cases and be well-versed in the proper legal proceedings and area of law. Therefore, it is in your best interest to retain expert legal counsel.
Wondering what area of law your issue falls under? Here is a list of some of the most common areas of legal practice:
- Civil Cases
- Bankruptcy law
- Labor and employment law
- Corporate (business) law
- Trusts and estates
- Tax law
- Civil rights
- Property law
- Family law
- Personal injury
- Criminal Cases
- Defense or prosecution
The Cost of a Lawyer
Another consideration is finding the right lawyer for you is your budget. How Much Do Lawyers Cost? Legal expenses range depending on a variety of factors. Different lawyers structure their billing processes according to both the type and amount of work being done. Whether it be an hourly rate or flat rate, how much do lawyers cost is something very important to consider when you hire.
While it might be tempting to cut costs if you’re already facing hefty fines or potential financial losses, legal advice from high-quality legal representation is always a worthwhile investment. Know what you can and can’t afford, but think twice before choosing a cut-rate lawyer. In high stakes situations where harsh penalties are on the line, you want a quality attorney to advocate on your behalf. If you hire a cheap lawyer, you will likely end up paying for it later.
To help you understand what you’re paying for and why here are some examples of fee structures you might run into:
- Hourly rates – Most common billing method where attorneys charge per hour they work on a case. Rate is often based on factors like firm reputation, experience level, and practice area.
- Tip: Talk to an attorney to understand their specific rate and terms of their billable hours.
- Flat fees – A predesignated, all-encompassing fee. Usually reserved for routine cases in which proceedings and processes involved are predictable.
- Contingent fees – In cases where large settlements are involved, lawyers may charge a percentage of the sum awarded or recovered in place of usual hourly fees based on services. One-third is the standard contingent fee.
- Retainer fees – Type of set fee paid upfront into an account from which money is deducted throughout proceedings.
- Statutory fees – Fees determined by law. Often per government statutes, state regulations, or other legally set fee systems.
How to Choose a Lawyer: 5 Easy Steps
With a solid understanding of your legal needs, you can get cracking on the hunt for the right lawyer. While the search process should be thorough and rigorous, if you stick to these five steps, you should have no trouble finding a good fit with a great attorney-client relationship:
- Get recommendations – Referrals from friends, family, or colleagues are a great place to start. Hearing people’s unbiased, firsthand experiences can help point you in the right direction and narrow the initial search process. Even if you don’t know anyone who’s dealt with similar legal troubles to your own, talking to those who’ve sought legal counsel of any sort can be valuable. This is because a lawyer working in one practice area can connect you to other types of lawyers and make recommendations within their professional circles.
- Do your homework – Beyond referrals, you will want to conduct independent research on legal talent. Getting informed about the best-known firms in the area of practice you need can lead you to the right lawyer. Online, you can find lawyer referral services information about past cases firms and attorneys have worked on as well as read reviews to verify reputation and legitimacy.
- Start interviewing – Between information from referrals and research, you should be able to compile a list of a few suitable candidates. Next, you will want to interview your top choices. Such consultation provides an opportunity for you to get a more personal sense of an attorney and to ask specific case-related questions. You’re looking to hire a lawyer who will do efficient and expert work, so treat this conversation like a serious job interview. Because knowing what to ask can be tricky, the next section will go over some thoughtful questions to refer to during this part of the process.
- Assess your options – After speaking directly with potential candidates, ask yourself: who will best represent your interests and meet your precise needs? To compare and contrast services, it may help to make a pros and cons list based on considerations like pricing, personality, candor, experience, legal strategy, etc.
- Make your final decision – The lawyer you land on should be someone that is both objectively qualified to handle your case and someone you personally trust to get the job done.
Tips to Find The Perfect Fit
In addition to these five simple steps, here are some pro tips that will help further guide your search:
- Size matters – Big-league firms and boutique or smaller firms offer different benefits for different types of cases. Choosing an appropriately sized firm will guarantee you get the kind of attention and resources you need.
- Resources – During the research process, it’s helpful to know where to find the information you’re looking for and be able to guarantee your sources are reputable. The following reliable research materials will hone your search and help you make the most informed decision:
- Local bar association.
- American Bar Association’s national Lawyer Referral Directory.
- Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory.
- Law firm websites.
Interviewing Potential Lawyers
While some attorneys offer free consultations, many charge for initial interviews. This is because legal advice is valuable and, for busy lawyers, time is precious. To avoid wasting an attorney’s time as well as your own money, you’ll want to come to a meeting or pick up the phone fully prepared to get the most out of an interview.
Qualities to Look For
In choosing a lawyer, you want someone that is not only capable, but also someone that you are comfortable around and get along with. Here are some of the top professional and personal qualities all great lawyers should have:
- Good written and verbal communication
- Strong analytical skills
- Good reputation
- Success rate
- Attentive and available
Questions to Ask
Don’t know what to discuss during a consultation? The following are key interview questions to ask attorneys, accompanied by pointers on what to look for in their answers:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- Ideally has 10+ years of experience in litigation
- Specific experience in the relevant practice area
- A veteran lawyer familiar with legal proceedings pertaining to your case
- What credentials do you have?
- Special skills, certifications, qualifications
- Testimonials and references from clients
- Have you ever worked on a similar case?
- Details and examples from past cases to help estimate delivery time, understand negotiation strategy and gauge potential outcomes
- Success stories
- What is your fee structure, and how do you bill?
- Find out about potential hidden fees or additional costs
- Get an approximate appraisal
- Who else at the firm will be involved?
- Will paralegals or junior associates be handling things behind the scenes
- Assess the experience level of collaborators and discuss adjusted billing
- Figure out who would be your primary contact
- What is your assessment of my case, and how would you handle it?
- Discuss possible legal avenues from court to settlement
- Chance of favorable outcome
- Potential liabilities and risk of failure
The Right Representation
Finding a lawyer who’s right for you requires serious effort. The process involves tenacity and intent, but the payoff is worth it. Some of the many benefits of putting in the work to choose the best lawyer to represent your needs include reduced stress, less time and money spent, and a higher likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Whether you’re in serious hot water, or just need some assistance navigating quotidian legal matters, having a great lawyer can make an enormous difference.
“This blog article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for client- and fact-specific legal advice from a qualified attorney.”
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