Everyone needs a lawyer, sooner or later. There are very few legal circumstances that can be handled by a layman, so knowing how to choose the right lawyer for your situation is essential. While most people understand the importance of hiring an attorney who specializes in their type of case, they don't really know where to go from there. The process of actually finding a competent and reliable attorney that fits your budget and needs can be tricker than expected.
Laws and Bar Association regulations do hold attorneys up to a certain standard, but that doesn't mean there aren't both excellent and bad lawyers practicing in your community. So, how do you select a good lawyer to handle your case?
Answer: Research is the Key to Finding Good Legal Advice
Once you have conducted an online search for lawyers in your area, who specialize in handling your type of case, you'll need to narrow that list down. The best way to do that is by looking for referrals. You can start by checking the individual attorney's website. They usually post testimonials from previous clients. You should also consult third-party sites, like LinkedIn, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau to review unfiltered results. Finally, ask friends and co-workers what attorneys they have used. For instance, if you're going through a divorce, ask divorced friends to recommend a lawyer.
There are quality attorneys at every budget level. Believing you'll get a better attorney by paying more is a mistake in thinking that could end up costing you too much. After you have narrowed down your list and begin consulting the most highly recommended attorneys, you should begin inquiring about the rates they charge for your type of case. Bear in mind that lawyers charge differently for different types of cases. For instance, a personal injury lawyer typically works for a contingency, while most divorce lawyers work for either a flat fee, or an hourly rate.
While the initial consultation is more commonly known as an opportunity for the attorney to evaluate your case, this is also an opportunity for you to evaluate the attorney. Don't be timid about asking difficult questions. Specifically, you should inquire about the attorney's caseload to ensure he will be able to give your case the attention it deserves. You will also want to know how many similar cases he has handled in the past and, of those cases, how many resulted in a favorable outcome for the attorney's clients.
Once you think you've found the right attorney to handle your case, you should still conduct more research. It's fairly simple to conduct a brief background check on your lawyer. You can use LinkedIn to find out about the lawyer's accreditations, education, and awards. Other professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association, can help you find out about any complaints, or sanctions, which have been brought against the attorney. A search of the Better Business Bureau can also help you uncover complaints filed by previous clients.
Choosing the right attorney to handle your case will require considering more factors than this brief overview provides. The following resources can provide a starting point for you to continue your research.
- Nolo - This is a highly respected legal resource website. The site posts informative articles on topics in every field of law. In addition to posting articles on a wide range of legal issues, the site also features a lawyer referral service to help users locate quality attorneys in their area.
- Investopedia - This is a site that primarily focuses on the financial sector, offering news and insights into credit issues, investing, and banking. However, since business and law often intermingle, the site also features articles related to the legal field. In particular, articles tend to focus on how the law affects business.
- The Balance Careers - This site specializes in articles that are geared towards career-minded individuals. It offers insight into specific careers for those interested in taking up a new career, but also offers insight into interacting with professionals already established in a given field. As a career planning tool, the site offers information that may not be widely published elsewhere.