We live in a world governed by laws. Therefore, an attorney is a very important person in our world. You should approach choosing an attorney as you would a doctor or spiritual advisor. Exercise great caution and perform your due diligence when choosing one.
You will be entrusting a lot of confidential information to your lawyer. You will also be putting your life in their hands in case you have to navigate a serious criminal charge.
There are many other facets of life that are not life threatening where a lawyer will be of tremendous help. They include selling real estate, settling disputes and insurance settlements.
The following are eight tips to help you pick the right attorney:
1. Law Expertise
Attorneys usually specialize in certain aspects of the law. There is no lawyer good enough to handle all elements of the law. However, there are general practice attorneys who handle a wide variety of legal cases.
Therefore, when looking for an attorney, you should seriously consider their area of expertise. Areas lawyers will specialize in include real estate law, family law, corporate law, criminal law or civil rights law among others.
If you live in an area with many lawyers, then you can have your pick of specialization areas. However, if you don’t, general practice lawyers will simply have to do.
Another tip you should use when searching for an attorney, is to decide how long you want to contract the services of the lawyer. It will either be short term or for the long haul.
Answering the question of how long you will need a lawyer will help you choose the right attorney. For example, if you were in a car accident and need a car accident attorney, you will need a lawyer for only a short period.
On the other hand, if you want a corporate lawyer to handle your business affairs, then you will require a lawyer for the long term. Therefore, carefully evaluate your legal situation to find out the duration for which you will need a lawyer’s services.
When looking for an attorney, it is best to choose one that is in close proximity to where you live. It makes it easy to have access to the attorney which you will certainly need in an emergency.
A lawyer who has practiced law in your area offers the best chance of winning a case. For example, if you live in Chicago and are dealing with a nursing home abuse case, then you will need a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer. The same goes for cases in other places.
A lawyer has to pass the bar exam in a particular state in order to practice law there. Therefore, a lawyer in your area is bound to have experience navigating specific state laws which can be very beneficial.
Experience is the most valuable teacher especially in the legal profession. When choosing a lawyer, you should look for one with adequate experience to handle your case.
You should particularly select a lawyer with experience handling your specific class of cases. You can find out if a lawyer has enough experience by asking them in an interview or checking out their information on the company website. You may also ask them to provide proof from former cases.
You should ascertain their claims by talking to some of their former clients. An experienced lawyer will be more valuable to your case though they may charge you a higher fee.
5. Good Communicator
The job of an attorney is to communicate on behalf of their client to their opponents and those judging the case. Therefore, when choosing a lawyer, you should choose one who is a good communicator.
The lawyer should also be able to clearly communicate with you especially about complex legal aspects of your case. The good news is that you can easily tell how good a communicator an attorney is during your first consultation or interview.
The attorney’s communication should be easy to understand and be well organized. Most importantly, the attorney should tell you everything that is going on with your case and not hide anything from you.
Professionalism pertains to the actions and behavior that separate competent attorneys from great ones. It is much more than simply having a certain type of personality.
For starters, a professional attorney should work to protect your best interests. They should also be efficient and economical in their actions. They should be punctual and well prepared. They should also behave appropriately and be ethical.
The more professional a lawyer is, the more relaxed you can be and focus more on creating an adequate work-life balance. A professional lawyer will definitely put you at ease during a trying time of your life.
7. Use References
Sifting through the profiles of dozens of lawyers can be very tiresome. Interviewing each of them can be even more grueling.
Therefore, when choosing a lawyer, a great tip is to get references from others. The key is to choose people whose judgement you trust. People who have worked with the attorney before will know the intricate details about how he/she deals with clients.
References will make choosing a lawyer faster as it will narrow down your choices significantly. The references may be acquired either online or offline.
8. Pricing and Billing
Finally, the inescapable issue of price will definitely be a factor when choosing an attorney. The tip in this regard is to simply choose an attorney who you can afford.
Therefore, before contracting the services of an attorney, you should get very clear on their fee structure. Ask them for a quote on your case and ask many questions about how the attorney bills their clients.
You should particularly ask about peripheral expenses such as travel and filing charges as they may be separate from the mentioned fees. However, how much you are willing to spend on an attorney is ultimately up to you.
As you can see, choosing an attorney is a difficult task. The eight tips above should help you make a better decision than you otherwise would. You should look for other factors to consider when choosing an attorney. The ones above should only be the starting point.