Legal services are like any other product or service. A wise costumer always thoroughly researches the product and then makes an informed decision. If you have been in a car accident, experienced discrimination at work, are in the process of a divorce or have suffered injuries from a slip and fall there is no way that you can handle the Legal process without the effective assistance of an Attorney. When such crisis situations arise in life, you can benefit considerably from having an attorney with a wealth of experience supporting you and fighting for your rights. However, selecting an attorney requires careful thought and consideration and it’s in your best interests to follow these steps before hiring just any lawyer:
Ask For Referrals From An Attorney
Referrals are one of the best ways to find a suitable attorney. Friends, family and colleague recommendations are a good place to start but the American Bar Association may be best able to assist you in finding someone locally. The Internet is also a viable source for legal services. Conducting a quick search gives us several options to check out especially those having favorable reviews.
Prepare A List Of Questions To Ask The Attorney
When you meet with an attorney for the first time the best way to assess the attorney is to interview them. It is a good idea to assess how comfortable you feel with this attorney and how professionally they conduct themselves in their office when you ask them your questions. Some questions that you should always ask an attorney are as follows:
- What experience does the lawyer have in your type of legal matter?
- How long has he been in practice?
- What is his track record of success?
- What percentage of his caseload is dedicated to handling your type of legal problem?
- Does he have any special skills or certifications?
- What are his fees and how are they structured?
- Does he carry malpractice insurance? If so, how much?
- Who else would be working on your case and what are their rates?
- Does he outsource any key legal tasks for functions?
- What costs may be involved in addition to lawyer fees (postage, filing fees, copy fees, etc.)?
- How often will you be billed?
- Can he provide references from other clients?
- Does he have a written fee agreement or representation agreement?
- How will he inform you of developments in your case?
Tour the Lawyer’s Law Office
A person can infer a lot of information about an attorney from their law office. Going on a brief tour beyond the office or conference room where you met with the lawyer can be very enlightening. A neat, orderly, efficient and well-run office usually is the hallmark of an efficient and competent attorney. The kind of support staff the lawyers employ tell us a lot about the lawyers themselves. If they appear friendly and helpful that is usually a good sign as well. An office that is in mass disarray having unhappy and impolite support staff members should be construed as red flags.
Run A Background Check On The Attorney
It is highly advisable to run a background check on an attorney that you think you might want to hire. Contact the lawyer disciplinary agency in your state to confirm that the lawyer is in good standing as a member of the bar. References should always be checked if you located the attorney through the Internet. A lawyer’s peer review ratings can also be checked online at Martindale.com. Peer review ratings often provide an objective indicator of a lawyer’s ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary. Lawyers are highly familiar with reputation of other lawyers. Attorneys may be able to provide information about a fellow lawyer that you may not find elsewhere such as in a book or online.
Remember that a higher fee does not equate with a more qualified attorney, however rock bottom fee often accurately signals inexperience and incompetence. Expertise in the law and trustworthiness are important qualities to look for in an attorney and by following the above mentioned steps you can select a lawyer with the legal skills and personal qualities to best serve your needs and interests.
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