My mother always said every family should include at least one lawyer and one doctor. When I asked her why, she said that if you are looking for a doctor or lawyer, it takes another doctor or lawyer to help you make the best decision for you. This blog will help you make an informed and correct decision when you need to hire an attorney.
Not every attorney is an expert or specializes in every kind of law, so finding the right lawyer for your personal injury case, eviction action, construction dispute, or discrimination action (you get the idea) involves different expertise and experience. In other words, the best attorney to help you do an estate plan might not and probably would not be the best attorney to handle that dispute you have with the contractor who did a terrible job on your kitchen remodeling project. You need to do some research if you are going to hire the best lawyer for your particular need.
If you already know an attorney, call him or her and ask for his or her advice as to who specializes in the kind of case you have. If not, do some research on the Internet or look in the local phone book to get an idea as to whether any attorneys are advertising for that sort of work. Then call the attorney. Do not be afraid to ask the attorney about similar cases he or she has handled. If the lawyer cannot give you specific examples of similar cases he or she has handled (although the lawyer will not be able to give you client names), and just tries to give you vague assurances, then he or she may not be a good choice and you should be prepared to make some further phone calls.
Next, ask questions about the lawyer’s practices as to communicating with you. Will he or she send you a monthly bill? Will he or she automatically send you copies of all correspondence in or out of your case? How quickly will he or she return your phone calls? Based on his or her experience, can the lawyer give you any estimate as to what you can expect in the way of legal fees? What is the lawyer’s practice as to preferring to communicate by telephone, by email, or by letter? There can be a very large difference in the length of time it takes to navigate through your case if the lawyer prefers to communicate only in writing with opposing counsel and you.
Do not be afraid to ask your lawyer whether he or she carries malpractice insurance, and whether he or she currently or in the past has had any professional conduct complaints brought against him or her. And finally, ask the attorney if he or she is currently handling any pro bono cases, serving on the boards of any nonprofit organizations, or otherwise involved in providing free legal services for organizations or individuals. This well might be an indicator of whether your attorney feels a professional sense of duty to the community at large and believes in the law as a mechanism for social justice, or is in it just for the money.