When hiring a lawyer, it is critical that you pick the right person for the job. It is not enough to read their reviews online; in order to get a full picture, you may have to conduct an interview in person. Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to gather information, and many firms offer a consultation for free. It is recommended that you take this time to analyze the person and determine whether they are the right fit for your case. Here are some tips for selecting a lawyer.
Where do I start?
The best place to start is with your inner circle; and this includes your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. While the initial search may not immediately turn up the perfect lawyer to handle your case (for example, your sister’s divorce lawyer may not be suitable for a property sale), you shouldn’t despair. There’s a good chance he might know a few qualified attorneys that can handle the job – so use this opportunity to get recommendations.
Not comfortable telling everyone you need a lawyer? Not a problem: just search the local bar associations. Keep in mind the bar association doesn’t actually offer assurance beyond providing proof that they are qualified and haven’t been disbarred. You still need to check them out individually, so due diligence is required.
Hit the web
There are ways to find good lawyers on the internet. Sources such as Martindale.com rates lawyers on a scale from A to C and the ratings are done by other lawyers – which ostensibly makes it more reliable. You may also be able to get more details online about a specific lawyer, should you decide to follow up. But remember those write ups are prepared by the attorneys themselves.
Check the firm as well
Your job will be to assemble a short list and then focus on individual attorneys. Law firms range in size, from a single lawyer to thousands, so it’s up to you to decide which firm would best represent you. If you want a lawyer to help negotiate a lease for a new office, then a smaller firm would be more equipped to handle it. Larger, more involved cases may require a large firm with better resources.
After you single out an attorney, review them thoroughly online to see their track records, and visit their website. If the website looks cheap or unprofessional, it may provide a clue as to the quality of their services. Likewise, if the website is full of sizzle but lacks any substance, you should back away.
It should be noted that some lawyers will charge you for consultation. They do this because some potential clients use these offers to get free legal advice. So if they do charge, ask if the amount is required upfront or can it be credited to the bill later on? Lawyers normally charge one of three ways: hourly, a one-time flat fee, or contingency.
These three types of fees structure don’t apply to all types of cases. In the case of personal injury, a contingency fee is normally agreed upon but for other business transactions, a flat fee or hourly fee may apply.