Okay, so you want to know how to find a good attorney. Well, first of all you need to think about what type of attorney you need. There are many types of attorneys, personal injury attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, divorce attorneys, the list goes on and on. It can be a good idea to work with an attorney who specializes in the field of law you need. Choosing an attorney that has not had much experience with your type of case can lead to not only higher fees, as they will be learning at your expense, but also you run the risk of losing your case.
Where To Find A Good Attorney
Once you know what type of attorney you need for your specific issue, the next thing is to find him or her. Attorneys tend to know other attorneys so one of the best resources for finding an attorney that does the kind of law you need is through your current or previous attorney. Let’s say you are injured in an accident and you need a personal injury attorney. In the past you may have hired a divorce attorney or a bankruptcy attorney, you could call either of those attorneys and ask if they could recommend a good personal injury attorney.
Also, another good method is to talk to friends, business associates and people in your community who have had similar legal issues and ask them who their attorneys were and if they were happy with their representation.
Asking several people should get you a few good leads, but don’t just make your decision on someone else’s recommendation. Different people may have different responses to an attorney’s personality and style. You need to feel comfortable working with whomever you hire.
Attorney Referral Lists
There are attorney referral lists available in most states that can recommend attorneys in your local area. Some attorney referral services carefully screen attorneys, listing only those with particular qualifications and a certain amount of past experience, while other services will list any attorney that is in good standing with the state bar and has liability insurance. When you contact an attorney referral service, ask what their qualifications are for including an attorney and how attorneys are screened.
Another way of getting to know a bit more about an attorney would be to go online. Many attorneys have their own websites and you can do a bit of research before contacting them. Lawyers.com is a website I found to be quite helpful. You can search for an attorney by location or by area of law and if they have a website it will most likely be listed there along with their phone number, address and any other information.
Once you have found a few prospective attorneys, don’t just hire the first one you meet. You need to personally contact at least three or more before making your decision.
You should have a sense of personal compatibility with the attorney you hire. Ask yourself which attorney you felt you could trust, did he or she seem to know what they were talking about, did he or she seem confident about your case?
You should expect your attorney to be honest with you. They should point out the strong and weak points of your case and give you a realistic expectation of the potential outcomes.
Also, check your State Bar’s website to see if any disciplinary actions have been placed against them. The American Bar Association has contact information for your individual State Bar associations.
Another good source for checking on an attorney’s rating is Martindale.com, you can type in an attorney’s name or the name of their firm and see how their peers have rated them. The ratings are “based on evaluations by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada. The first review to establish a lawyer’s rating usually occurs three years after his/her first admission to the bar.” Very helpful site.
Questions to Ask Before Retaining an Attorney
Consumer Reports suggests that the following questions be asked during an interview with any attorney a consumer is considering retaining:
- How many years of experience do you have in this specialty and how have you handled similar disputes in the past?
- What are the possible results from pursuing this matter?
- How long will you expect it to take to resolve this matter?
- How will you keep me informed of what is happening as the case proceeds?
- Will anyone else, such as one of your associates or paralegals, be working on my case?
- Do you charge a flat or an hourly rate and how much?
- What other expenses will there be besides your fee and how are they calculated?
- What’s a reasonable approximate figure for a total bill?
- Can you give me a written estimate? Can some of the work be handled by members of your staff at a lower rate?
- Will unforeseen events increase the amount you charge me?
- If you charge on a contingency basis, what proportion of the amount I recover will be paid to you as your fee and can this figure be calculated after the expenses are deducted?
- How often will I be billed, and how are billing disputes resolved? If we cannot settle this, will you agree to mandatory arbitration?
- Do you need any further information from me?
- Can I do some of the work in exchange for a lower bill?
- Do you recommend that this matter be submitted to an arbitrator or mediator, and do you know anyone qualified to do this?
Just A Thought
The more research you can do prior to hiring an attorney, the better off you will be. Just think, if you researched your spouse before you married them, would you still have married them?