10 Tips for Choosing the RIGHT Lawyer
Have you ever gotten lost trying to choose the right lawyer? Whatever life brings, it’s nice to have a good lawyer on your side. Whether it is real estate, business, marriage, or estate planning, most doctors will need a lawyer at some point.
Attorney Lyle Solomon is here to give us 10 tips on how to choose a great lawyer.
This is a guest post. TFP has no financial relationship with Mr. Soloman.
10 Important Things You Should Consider When Choosing the Right Lawyer
If you face a complex legal problem involving a huge amount of money, you should seek expert advice from a professional attorney. Legal issues come in many forms, such as:
To protect yourself, you’ll want someone with expert knowledge in the specific area to guide you and represent you along the way. You will face these challenges confidently by considering a few things for your specific legal needs. If you take the time to search for the right lawyer, it will help you win your case.
1. Decide on the type of attorney you need
Different lawyers have expertise in various areas of law.
It is best to choose someone who can cover your area of need. These legal areas may include bankruptcy, criminal law, trust and estate, family law, employment, personal injury, small business law, etc. An attorney familiar with your area’s local courts will better understand your case so you have the best representation to the court.
Some people choose representation from small, boutique law firms. With a team of 2 to 10 lawyers, they can provide a variety of legal services if you need them. They are there to support you with difficult legal matters.
Large law firms with dozens of attorneys have the resources to help you with complicated legal situations. They offer services in multiple cities and states, as well. Their attorneys work with both individual and corporate clients. However, attorney’s fees at larger firms are typically higher than those of the smaller firms.
2. Consider recommendations from family and friends
Talk to your family and friends who’ve consulted an attorney before. Research the attorney profiles of their recommendations and the services they offer against your legal needs.
Make sure you understand how your family members and friends are making their recommendations. What is the basis of their decision?
Never commit to hiring a lawyer before meeting him/her for an interview to discuss your needs. You have to make sure you are comfortable working with whoever you hire.
3. Contact the local bar association
Prepare a list of local attorneys, including their names, addresses, emails, contact numbers, and websites.
By reviewing public records from the state bar association, you can find out if any licensed attorney has had complaints filed or disciplinary action taken against them.
Check out local bar associations for free referral services and choose the right lawyer for your needs.
You can find all the details you need from the American Bar Association’s State & Local Bar Associations websites.
4. Review online listings and referrals
Many websites provide local law firm listings and free lawyer reviews, including Avvo.com, LegalZoom, LawTrades, Rocketlawyer, etc. Websites like LawHelp.org offer attorney information to low-income clients.
To choose the right lawyer you can check client reviews across multiple websites. It will help you to be confident that you are getting a clear picture of a law firm or attorney.
You may find more information under “Lawyer Referral Service” or something similar in your yellow pages.
5. Review the attorney's website
You can perform your own background check by looking at the information available on the attorney’s website. He/she should disclose information about their educational background and degree and areas of specialization.
You may find work history, success stories, client reviews and testimonials, and many other things. You should also review the services page and the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section. Many websites may contain a blog focusing on multiple legal issues.
Typically, the best lawyers have the best websites by displaying their expertise and answering the questions of potential clients.
Make sure you are looking for an attorney in your local area that has a minimum of 3-5 years of experience with a positive success rate.
Don’t overlook social media sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with attorneys. These can be the easiest ways to contact a lawyer. You may even discover how the lawyer handles and resolves client complaints.
6. Attend meetings with the attorneys
Prepare a list of the potential lawyers and begin setting up consultations. Most lawyers offer one free consultation to their clients. However, make sure you understand their consultation charges before meeting them.
Take thorough notes of everything said during your consultation. It is important to use discernment before hiring an attorney. Make sure you bring all the necessary documents with you.
Do not hesitate to ask questions. If you feel that the attorney isn’t cooperating or ignoring your questions, choose a different lawyer.
7. Verify communication and availability
It is wise to ask the attorneys about their fastest and preferred method of communication. You should also ask about the expected response time.
Unfortunately, the majority of complaints from online reviews indicate that lawyers lack prompt communication. A lawyer with poor communication skills could be a problem for a client who needs to get in touch with an urgent need.
If your case has an element of urgency, make sure you hire a lawyer who values communication.
You’ll need to establish healthy communication with the lawyer you hire.
Inform him/her of your preferred form of communication and set regular check-in times to discuss updates. It will help your case go smoothly if you are both on the same page.
8. Compare price and billing
The price and billing of the legal service may depend on several factors: size and popularity of the law firm, the experience of the attorneys, and their success rate.
An expert attorney may charge more, depending on the complexity of your case.
To choose the right lawyer, compare the fee structures of multiple reputable attorneys.
As a best practice, you should consider a law firm that has an honest and transparent fee structure suitable for its service.
Several attorneys may offer you a low flat fee, along with additional costs, such as shipping, filing, and travel. They may also charge you an hourly fee, contingency fee, negotiable fee, etc. So, make sure you obtain all related information in writing before signing a contract with a law firm or a lawyer.
9. Negotiate the fee
Always negotiate the fee with the lawyer and keep it within your budget.
An attorney may charge a high legal fee if your case is complicated and time-consuming.
You should get the final fee structure in writing. If the attorney’s fees are high, discuss the fee with him/her and set up a payment plan.
If you have problems paying an up-front fee, ask your lawyer to work with you based on your financial needs.
10. Sign the contract
Your attorney will ask you to sign a document called an engagement letter or retainer. It’s a contract between you and the lawyer that clearly describes the legal relationship between the two parties, along with all the terms and conditions.
Choosing the right lawyer requires hard work, but it’s an important decision.
You should choose someone you trust and feel comfortable working with.
Make sure you fully understand how the attorney will charge you and don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you choose the right attorney, he/she will help relieve your financial stress.
Author Bio: Lyle Solomon is a licensed attorney in California.
He has been affiliated with the law firms in California, Nevada, and Arizona since 1991.
As the principal attorney of Oak View Law Group, he gives advice and writes articles to help people solve their debt problems.
You can connect with him on Twitter.
Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial, medical, or law advice.