How To Choose The Right Lawyer: 7 Things To Look For
Chances are, every one of us will need a lawyer at some point in our lives. It might be drafting a will, getting a divorce, buying real estate, or something else. When that time comes, you’ll want to have the best attorney who will make it possible for you to get the most out of the situation. In the words of the famous TV show (Suits) lawyer Harvey Specter: in some scenarios, you will need to hire someone who can “win a no-win situation by rewriting the rules.”
There are many factors to consider when choosing a legal professional, and that makes your decision all the more complicated to make. Here are some tips that could help.
The safest road to finding a good lawyer is getting a recommendation from someone you trust. Just like you would ask a friend who’s recently remodeled their home if they could suggest a good contractor, you can do the same when it comes to legal matters. If you know someone who’s been going through the same or similar legal issues you are going through, ask them for advice. If this is not the case, you can dig through the web and spend some time on forums and review sites looking for attorney recommendations.
Field of Expertise
In theory (and in TV shows), a good lawyer can take on any type of case and win. However, most lawyers specialize in a limited number of (usually mutually connected) areas and build their expertise in them. You can’t expect the real estate lawyer that helped you buy your house to also handle your divorce case. Choosing a lawyer based on their field of expertise will grant better guidance, council, and knowledge of your case.
Have you ever watched Suits? Although a fantastic lawyer, one of the protagonists did not have the license to practice law. That’s TV, but running into someone like that in real life would be a whole other story, sadly spoiled by reality.
Allowing a legally unqualified person to handle your case could jeopardize your entire struggle. You can check whether the legal professional you are considering has a license by searching the state bar website. This is also the place to check whether the attorney has disciplinary orders filed against them. You might also want to check for malpractice insurance.
While the knowledge acquired in law school is vast, it cannot compare with years dedicated to practicing law and the experience acquired in the courtroom. The attorneys practicing law for a long time are more likely to provide fruitful advice about the consequences and potential risks of certain legal steps. They are also more used to the courtroom, especially in complex procedures.
Keep in mind, however, that more experienced lawyers usually cost more. On the other hand, sometimes you will find that the “fresh” lawyers can be more enthusiastic. If you don’t need detailed guidance through a complicated procedure, they might be a win-win choice.
Price and Billing
The price of the service will depend on the various factors we’ve discussed here, as well as on the size and reputation of the law firm. The complexity of your case will also affect the price and your choice of legal expert. If your issue is not specifically intricate, you can save money by choosing a less experienced, and therefore, more affordable lawyer.
Furthermore, billing transparency also counts. The fee structure needs to be honest, clear, and appropriate for the service. Many lawyers advertise a low flat fee while including additional costs, such as printing the documents and court filing. Others bill by the hour. In any case, you should make sure everything is clear from the beginning.
Availability and Proximity
Even nowadays, when most business interactions are done via phone or email, you need to have the option to physically meet your counselor at least once, depending on the complexity of your case. That’s why it would be better for your lawyer to be somewhere where you can reach them without too much trouble.
The attorney of your choice also needs to have enough time to devote to your case entirely and immediately, so check their caseload.
Comfort and Communication
Along with considering professional credentials and financial factors, it’s also important that you are “compatible” with your counselor. The communication between you two should be honest and two-way. This is especially important for emotionally difficult cases, such as divorce or custody lawsuits. You need to feel comfortable in front of this stranger to share your fears and doubts. Also, you want a lawyer that can inspire respect and trust – because sometimes, they will need to tell you something you may not like but that works for your benefit.
Selecting the right lawyer may require some time. Your first choice probably won’t be your last one. Don’t be eager to choose the first name you click on. Instead, check all of these factors, and decide on someone who fits your budget and who will work in your best interest.
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Author: Sarah Kaminski
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