Attorneys to Choose and Avoid

Lawyer Search

When searching for legal representation, never choose the first attorney you talk to. Interview three or four lawyers and select the one you believe best suits your needs and the one you’re most comfortable with. Pay particular attention to the personal chemistry between you and the lawyer. Keep in mind that you aren’t looking for a best friend, you’re looking for a legal professional. Don’t expect to find a good lawyer by simply looking in the phone book or viewing an advertisement.

If you have trouble reaching an attorney before hiring them, such as arranging a free consultation, chances are they’ll be even harder to contact once you sign the contract. Ask all prospective lawyers how you will be able to contact them and how long it will take them to return your communications.

Avoid flamboyant attorneys and braggarts. Good attorneys do not throw out huge settlement amounts to entice you to hire them. Ask the attorney the percent of cases they settle out of court versus those they take to court. Ask how many cases of your type they’ve handled in their career. Ask how long they’ve practiced law in your state and in total.

One of the best ways to choose a lawyer or attorney is through a referral from a family member or trusted friend but don’t make a decision about a lawyer solely on the basis of someone else’s recommendation.

There is a rating system for attorneys that most state bars provide for free. For references, also check local bar associations and professional organizations. Check your local legal aid society. You can sometimes get a listing of complaints from these organizations. A good time to get a rating is after an interview that went well.

Observing an attorney in action can help you in decide whether you want them to represent you. See if they’ll be in court in the near future. Also, do an Internet search of their name to read reviews from their previous clients. Keep in mind that complaints are fairly common even with attorneys who do a good job since many people are never happy with the end result of their legal case.

Most lawyers specialize in certain areas, and even a so-called “general practitioner” may not know that much about the particular area of your concern. When hiring legal council, match your needs to the attorney’s legal specialty. In other words, if you need a criminal defense lawyer, don’t hire a contract lawyer, even if he or she is an old family friend. Similarly, even in civil cases, you want to make sure you have the right specialist for your needs. Intellectual property law is far different from property law. Make sure your lawyer regularly practices the kind of law you need.

Remember, attorneys have gone to school to learn how to impress and finagle judges and juries – and prospective clients. There are some good attorneys out there …along with some very bad ones.