Guide to Hiring the Right Lawyer
Steps to Take When Looking for an Attorney to Represent You
When a legal issue needs to be resolved, it can be daunting to locate and secure the services of the best attorney for your situation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to helping you through the process.
Step #1 – Look for a Lawyer with Knowledge and Experience Handling Your Type of Claim
Though some attorneys refer to themselves as “general practitioners,” most lawyers focus their practice on one, or a few, specific areas of practice. To ensure the best results, you want an attorney with comprehensive knowledge of your type of claim. You don’t want a trial attorney drafting a contract, but you may not want to be represented in court by a lawyer who never goes there.
So where do you start? In today’s digital world, one of the most effective and efficient ways to locate the right attorney is through an online legal directory, such as the GetLegal Attorney Directory. With our directory product, you can quickly and easily target your search to lawyers who have experience and knowledge related to your specific legal concerns. For example, if you have been injured because of the negligence of a medical professional, you can narrow your search to find an attorney who understands the unique challenges associated with medical malpractice claims.
We’ve designed our directory to be user-friendly–start by entering your specific legal problem or concerns in the GetLegal Attorney Directory search box, and you’ll see a list of practice areas and issues from which to choose. Narrow your search by entering the name of your city and state (or your ZIP code), and you’ll have access to a list of nearby lawyers who can help you.
Another way to find an attorney is to ask people you know—friends, family, and coworkers. Make certain, though, that the person making the referral hired the attorney to handle a legal problem similar to yours. You can also contact a local bar association, which will likely have a lawyer referral service. Using a referral service generally ensures that you’ll find a lawyer who handles your type of dispute.
Step #2 – Interview a Number of Potential Candidates
Even though you might end up hiring the first attorney with whom you speak, it’s critical to give yourself options. Ideally, you want to interview at least three attorneys and make your decision based on a number of questions:
- How much experience do they have? – How long have they been practicing law? How many cases like yours have they handled? What is their success rate?
- How will you be charged? – Will you pay a flat fee, an hourly fee, or a contingency fee? Will the attorney require a retainer before taking your case? What expenses will you be required to reimburse? What is the total anticipated cost of resolving your problem? How will the attorney communicate to you if costs are more than expected? Confirm before you go to your first meeting whether you will be charged for that initial consultation.
- How will the attorney handle your case? – Will the lawyer do all the work, or will there be paralegals, legal assistants, or other attorneys involved? Does the attorney expect to file a lawsuit or seek a settlement? Does the attorney anticipate that the case may go to trial? Will your attorney seek to resolve your case through aggressive advocacy or through a cooperative approach?
- How does the attorney view your prospects for getting the outcome you want? – What, if any, obstacles may prevent you from getting the results you seek?
- What kind of communication can you expect from the attorney? – Will you be notified only when there are developments in your case? Will your attorney be available by phone, email, or text message when you have questions?
- How long will it take to resolve your problem?
When each interview is completed, ask yourself some questions:
- Will you be comfortable asking questions and discussing all issues related to your dispute with this person? Effective attorney-client relationships must be built on trust. If you don’t trust the attorney—for any reason—hire someone else.
- Did you feel like the lawyer was listening to you or simply trying to get another client in the door?
- Does the attorney’s plan for handling your case make sense to you?
- Are you comfortable with the level of access and service the lawyer will provide?
Step #3 – Get Your Agreement in Writing
Though oral agreements can be enforceable, written contracts offer far more clarity and tend to minimize confusion. Ask your attorney to prepare an agreement, documenting all key elements of your agreement, including the scope and costs of representation.