The first video I made several years ago is called “How to Choose A Lawyer.” Here is what I said which still applies.
First, you want to make sure that your attorney is qualified. Second, you want to see if you like the attorney’s personality and if you think they’re a good match for you. Third, you want to look at their business practices and procedures. Fourth, you want to have a feeling you can trust your attorney to do the right thing for you when you aren’t there.
ARE THEY QUALIFIED?
Choosing a lawyer can be a difficult and maybe overwhelming experience. There are so many choices and so many options. Of course you want your attorney to be qualified. You need to have an attorney who is qualified in the area of law, that your issue is in. Try to know and try to understand what area of law it is you need representation on. First and foremost, when you’re evaluating an attorney to try and determine if they will fit your needs, you will want to have a consultation with them. Some attorneys may speak with you on the phone. They may require you to come in and pay a fee to sit down and meet them.
DO YOU LIKE THEIR PERSONALITY?
When you meet your perspective new attorney, you want to think about that attorney. Do they listen to you? Do they listen to the facts of your case and what your needs and desires are? Especially, if you’re having a sit down in person meeting with them. You want to look at the attorney’s personality. Do you like the attorney’s personality? Does their personality seem to be a good fit with you where you can work with your attorney?
BUSINESS PRACTICES? CONTRACTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Another area that you want to consider is the business practices of the firm or attorney that you hire. Many attorneys will review this with you with their contract. Ethically, it’s best if all attorneys actually have a written signed contract with their clients. This process of signing the contract is the perfect time for you to talk about their business practices and procedures that they use. Critical areas of conflict that people have with attorneys many times can be addressed up front, if that attorney has a practice that they can let you know so that you have proper expectations. One of these areas is on communications. What is the best way to communicate with your attorney? What is their telephone policy? What is their email policy? What is their policy on copying you on any/all correspondences that come through the office? Having the communication addressed first and foremost it is very important to understand how they do business.
BUSINESS PRACTICES: BILLING
An attorney’s billing practices are very important for your consideration as well. Those procedures can differ quite a bit among different attorney’s or firms. You should make sure you have a clear understanding of what to expect on your bill. How often will you receive it? Will it be detailed? Will you have charges for attorney time and legal assistant time as well? Will there be quarterly rounding of time? What is the firm’s practices and procedures? And especially what happens if you are not able to comply with the terms of the agreement or if you run low on money? How does the attorney handle that in that situation?
BUSINESS PRACTICES: DEADLINES
Another important business practice you should inquire about is the average turnaround time for the attorney to complete work product. All attorneys who practice in litigation have a variety of different deadlines that come up that are court mandated and court imposed. However, what is the attorney’s turnaround time if there is not a deadline? Make sure that you know what their policies and standards are, so you can have realistic expectations of when you can expect work to be complete, or if you are in a rush situation that you can let the attorney know to talk about that.
FIND AN ATTORNEY YOU CAN TRUST
Remember, when you go and have a sit down meeting with your attorney, try to get a feel for “Is this somebody you can trust?” Is this someone you can have confidence in? Remember, the attorney that you hire is your agent and that attorney is a representative of you and the claims that you have. So use your gut instinct. Think is this somebody that I can trust? Look at referrals. Don’t solely base your decision on referrals. Consider: “Is this somebody that when they go in chambers, I know they are doing the best job they can to fully and fairly represent what your claims and issues are?”
In conclusion, in choosing an attorney that is right for you, make sure they are qualified in your area of law in which you need help. Also, you should make sure their personality is a good match for you. Also, make sure you understand their business practices and procedures. And, finally, make sure that you can have some confidence and trust in the attorney that you choose. This will help you go a long way towards a successful resolution to your litigation and to ensure that you are as pleased as you can be during what is, to some, a stressful process.
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