Ask for Recommendations
Asking people for recommendations is one of the best ways of finding a good attorney. Start this inquiry with friends and family and ask them about the positive experiences they have had personally with the attorney in your area who specializes in what you are looking for.
If the attorney you are already in touch with specializes in a different area of law, he or she may still be able to give you a recommendation. Your business lawyer may not be able to help you with a personal injury case, but will be able to refer you to an able personal injury attorney.
Charles Emmet Harris recommends you create a shortlist of anywhere between three to five lawyers from these recommendations, all of whom you must further investigate before you decide on the right one for you.
Now that you have your list, go online and start a research on each of the lawyers you have listed. There are lawyer research sites like Justia and Lawyers.com, or you can use Google for the reviews.
If the lawyer has a website or is on social media, go through these, especially any review sections. Everyone does not get pleased, so if there are one or two bad reviews do not give them too much importance, but if you do see a pattern, cross the lawyer off your list.
Use your research to narrow your list down to the top three, and call each of them to schedule a consultation. Most lawyers will not charge you for a brief consultation when you meet with them.
Be attentive to whether the person who responds to your call is polite and accommodating. On reaching the office of the lawyer you need to feel comfortable there, and must also find the location convenient.
Asking the Right Questions
Have a list of questions ready to ask the lawyer when you sit down for the scheduled meeting. This way you will not forget what is important and will be able to make the best use of the time spent with the lawyer.
Questions that you must ask:
- Have you specialized in cases like mine?
- How long have you practiced?
- Is my case strong?
- What is the case worth?
- Do all your cases go to court, or do you settle some of them?
- Who will be looking after my case?
- What will be the payment schedule?
Your chosen attorney must show honesty and be upfront while giving answers to your questions. Take notes, as this can help you to compare the interviews of all the lawyers on your list, and you will not have to remember who said what.
Make an Assessment of Fees and Costs
You should not hire an attorney based just on cost, but at the same time prices will matter. Ask for a complete explanation of their fees, and ask them for a written summary. It does not mean you are being cheap, but just you deserve to know the cost, and what you are getting from it in return.
Review Payment Arrangements
Attorneys can bill you in different ways. The options are:
Contingency fee – Here the attorney gets a percentage of whatever amount you are awarded if you win in the case.
Flat fee – This sets a dollar amount for the services that the lawyer will render. This is a common practice for writing wills or where a divorce is not contested.
Hourly rate – The fee decided is for every hour. The final total cost will depend on the number of hours the lawyer has to spend on your case.
Retainer – This is an upfront fee. This often covers the cost of the lawyer’s fees and expenses while your case is being tried.
Understanding how our attorney will bill you will tell you how much you need to pay and when this is to be paid. Not asking these questions can lead you to be unpleasantly surprised when you are finally billed.
What is your Gut Reaction?
Once you have all the information about each of the lawyers that you have interviewed, make an evaluation about your experience with each of them and then make your decision. Evaluation must be carried out logically, but also listen to your gut. If any of the lawyers you have met gave you a feeling that he or she is trustworthy and believable then it can indicate that that your choice is right.
It is equally true if your feelings about any of them are negative. While you may not be sure of what it is, if there is a feeling that something is not right, then just drop that lawyer from your list. There are lots of lawyers out there, and it makes sense to keep on looking till you find one that suits you.