Need a lawyer?
Perhaps you’re currently in need of legal advice. Maybe you’d simply like to know how to hire a lawyer in case you need one in the future.
In any case, if you’re looking for a lawyer or attorney, here are eight important tips for choosing the right one.
Know Where to Look
Unless you’re already familiar with a few lawyers, you’ll need to begin your search from square one. Before attempting to dive headfirst into the hiring process, you should know where to look.
As you might expect, scouring the internet is a great place to start. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations. While a somewhat outdated method today, the phone book might even yield a handful of options.
As there are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, you should have no issue finding a handful of great options once you’re looking in the right places!
Identify a Specialist
As there are so many different areas of practice, you’ll want to identify a specialist who has expertise and experience that is most relevant to you.
If you’re in need of a bankruptcy lawyer, you don’t want to hire a lawyer who primarily works on personal injury cases. If you’re in need of an estate lawyer, there’s no sense in hiring a corporate law attorney.
Get an Idea of the Cost Upfront
While you may want to hire the best lawyer available, the reality is that you might not have the budget for some of the top options.
Before you spend too much time vetting a lawyer, communicating with them, and scheduling meetings, it’s wise to get an idea of what you might need to spend to obtain their services.
The reality is, lawyers may charge anywhere between $50 and $1,000 per hour. While price shouldn’t be the only factor that influences your decision, you will want to at least make sure you can afford the lawyer’s legal services.
Take Advantage of a Free Consultation
Because there are many lawyers who offer free consultations, you should meet with a few options before making your decision.
Use this time to learn more about the lawyer, their firm, their expertise, and their experience. Above all else, use the meeting to get a better idea of whether or not the lawyer will represent you properly and give your case the attention you require.
Ask the Important Questions
During your initial meeting or consultation, there might be a real temptation to sit back and let the lawyer explain their process and what they plan to do for you.
But it’s also important that you cover all bases in order to get a clear picture of their ability. Some important questions to ask include:
- How long have you been in practice?
- What experience do you have with these types of cases?
- How successful have you been with these types of cases?
- Can you provide references?
- Who else would be working on this case?
- Who would my points of contact be?
- Are there any legal tasks that you outsource?
- How are your fees structured?
- Are there any costs outside of lawyer fees?
Visit the Lawyer’s Office
Before hiring a lawyer, ask whether they would allow you to take a tour of their office. You can learn much about how organized, efficient, and personable the staff is after a simple walkthrough.
If you get an uneasy feeling after your visit or find that your lawyer works in a chaotic environment, it might be in your best interest to look elsewhere.
Consider the Size of the Firm
It’s also important to consider the size of the law firm. While one is not objectively better than the other, large law firms and small law firms have their own pros and cons.
Typically, large law firms have access to greater resources than smaller law firms do; and while it may be tempting to link up with a large firm because of their collective expertise and experience, small law firms have their own advantages.
As smaller law firms aren’t forced to juggle as many cases, you’re more likely to get prompter and more personalized attention on your case.
Conduct a Background Check
It’s always good practice to make sure that any prospective lawyer is in good standing with the bar. To do so, you’ll need to need to contact the disciplinary agency in your state.
Beyond checking in with the state’s disciplinary agency, you can also get in contact with any local lawyers you might know to determine whether or not the lawyer you’re looking to hire has a positive reputation.