How to Hire an Attorney
There are a lot of lawyers out there. How do you know which one is right for you? It’s hard enough to choose anything in a time of personal or professional crisis, the task of finding an attorney can seem insurmountable. However, because of the role statutes of limitations and other legal deadlines play in your situation, you have to step up to the challenge. Here are some guidelines to help you find, and hire, the right attorney.
Find an attorney who is experienced in your type of case. Look for a lawyer whose practice areas relate to your needs. Ask for a referral from friends, colleagues and do some research. If you’re technologically savvy, surf the internet to find attorneys who specialize in your specific matter.
Call first. To avoid unnecessary meetings, call all your candidates. Try to condense your problem into a sentence or two so that whomever you speak to is able to determine if their firm is the right firm to help you. During your call ask if they offer a free consultation – most will; but if not, be ready to pay for your inquiry if you decide to meet with them.
Come to your first meeting with as much information as possible. That way the attorney will be able to determine if they can handle your case. Gather all the detailed information and pertinent documents for your case so if you hire the firm they can determine how they will proceed with your issue. It is also alright for you to inquire about the firm’s history, the attorney’s record with similar cases and ask for references.
First impressions really count. If the attorney can’t speak clearly and directly to you about your case, it’s a red flag. Beware of lawyers who use legal jargon and empty promises instead of giving you a clear idea of what costs you will incur, the goals for your case and how his or her experience will be relevant to what you are hiring him to do. Look for someone who will speak to you in terms you can understand. If the attorney doesn’t look at your case with urgency and interest, move on to the next name on your list.
Go in to your consultation with a concrete idea of what your goal is for the outcome. If it is a criminal case, are you willing to plea bargain? If you are seeking damages do you want the maximum amount, regardless of the length of litigation? Or do you want to settle? Once you figure out how you want things to go, see if the lawyer has a history of similar results in cases like yours.
Find out if the attorney you are meeting with will be the person working on your case. Many times, especially in bigger firms, there will be other partners and associates working on your case. Determine if you are comfortable with that and make sure you know the qualifications of the others that will be involved.
Meet with more than just one attorney, even if you are impressed with the first person you meet. Give yourself a day or two to think about this decision; you may be stuck with your choice for quite a while – you want it to be the right one.
Get everything in writing. Make sure you have an explicit contract with the attorney. The contract should state your arrangements about costs and fee scheduling as money issues are typically the most common areas of dispute.
You’ve picked an attorney and now you need to determine what your responsibilities will be and you must also understand what he is expecting from you. You will have to have a good working relationship with your lawyer. Follow-up regularly and understand what he wants you to do in order to get the results you are seeking. Teamwork is the key, so figure out how to communicate clearly and don’t hesitate to follow-up as your situation develops.
The author of this article is David H. Charlip, the principal of Charlip Law Group, LC, has over 32 years of litigation experience, and has managed and litigated cases across the country in states such as Alabama, California, Florida, Washington, Missouri, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Wyoming, Nevada, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, and New Hampshire, to name a few.
Mr. Charlip has a reputation as an innovator and a leader in such areas as Mortuary and Funeral law, Civil and Corporate Litigation, Employment Litigation, Real Estate Law, Banking law, Family Law, Intellectual Property Law, Personal Injury, and Nursing Home litigation, on both the individual level and in class or collective actions. Being the leader that he is in many areas of the law, he is a sought after speaker and frequent resource for the media; as a result, the Charlip Law Group, L.C., has a nationwide scope and reputation.