If your legal problem is complicated or involves a lot of money, you might not want to try to handle the whole problem without a lawyer. After all, lawyers do more than just provide legal information. They offer strategic advice and apply sophisticated technical skills to legal matters. Ideally, you will be able to find lawyers who are willing to be your legal “trainers” to help you educate yourself as much as possible and take over as your formal legal advisor only if needed.
How to find the Right and Reliable Lawyer
Finding a good lawyer who can efficiently help your specific problem may not be easy. Don’t expect to find a good lawyer just by looking in the phone book or reading advertisements. There is not enough information in these sources to help you make a valid assessment.
A better approach is to talk to people in your community who are experiencing the same problem you are facing – for example, if you have a claim of sexual harassment, talk to a group of women. Ask them who their lawyers are and what they think of them. If you talk to half a dozen people who have similar legal problems, chances are you will get some good pointers.
But don’t make decisions about lawyers based solely on other people’s recommendations. Different people will have different responses to the attorney’s style and personality; don’t decide to hire a lawyer before meeting with a lawyer, discussing your case, and deciding that you feel comfortable working with him.
Also, it may be difficult to find a lawyer through a personal referral with the expertise you need (for example, if your friend has a great divorce lawyer, but you need coalescing advice, a referral may not help you much).
Many sites offer ways to connect with local lawyers based on your location and the type of legal case you have. You answer several questions about your case and your contact information, so the right type of lawyer will contact you directly. Talk to a local lawyer.
Businesses that provide services to key players in the field of law that you are interested in can also help you identify a lawyer you should consider. For example, if you are interested in small business law, talk with your banker, accountant, insurance agent, and real estate broker. These people are often associated with lawyers who represent business clients and are in a position to make judgments based on information.
Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services are another source of information. However, there are many variations in the quality of lawyer referral services, even though they must be approved by the state association of lawyers. Some lawyer referral services carefully screen attorneys and register only those lawyers with certain qualifications and some past experience, while other services will register every lawyer in good standing with the state bar that manages liability insurance. Before you choose a lawyer referral service, ask what qualifications include a lawyer and how closely the lawyer is examined.
However, what you might not get from a lawyer’s reference service is an insight into the attorney’s philosophy – for example, whether a lawyer is willing to take a few hours to become your law coach or how aggressive the attorney’s personality is.
Other sources that can be used as a reference
Here are some other sources that you can use as a reference for finding possible candidates in your search for a lawyer:
- Your state director or local chamber of commerce may be a good source of business lawyers.
- The director of the nonprofit group who is interested in the issue that underlies the lawsuit, you will definitely know the lawyer who works in that field. For example, if your dispute involves an attempt to stop a large new subdivision, it makes sense to consult with environmental groups who are committed to fighting urban spread.
- Legal librarians can help identify authors in your state who have written books or articles on a particular subject – for example, construction law.
- Women’s or men’s support groups may have a list of honorable families and divorce lawyers.
Most lawyers specialize in certain fields, and even so-called “general practitioners” may not know much about certain areas of your concern. For example, of the nearly one million attorneys in America today, perhaps less than 50,000 have sufficient training and experience in small business law to be a real help for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Can pay to work with lawyers who already know their field, such as employment discrimination, zoning laws, software design issues, or restaurant licenses. That way you can take advantage of the fact that lawyers are far from the learning curve. Sometimes specialists charge less, but if their specific information is truly valuable, it can cost you money well.
Interview Prospective Lawyers
When you get the names of several good prospects, the next step is to talk to each of them privately. If you describe your needs in advance, many lawyers will be willing to meet you for half an hour or more at no cost so you can measure it and make a decision.
Pay special attention to personal chemistry between you and your lawyer. No matter how experienced and recommended a lawyer is, if you feel uncomfortable with that person during the first one or two meetings, you will probably never achieve the ideal lawyer-client relationship. Trust your instincts and find a lawyer whose personality matches your personality. Also look for experience, personal relationships and accessibility.
Communication and Accuracy
Ask all prospective lawyers how you can contact them and how long it will take to restore your communication. And don’t assume that because the lawyer seems friendly and easy to talk to, it’s OK to ignore this step.
Unfortunately, complaint records from all groups of lawyers show that many lawyers are poor communicators. If every time you have a problem there is a delay of a few days before you can talk to your lawyer on the phone or make an appointment, you will lose so much of your valuable time.
There is almost nothing more annoying to a client than leaving a legal project in the hands of a lawyer and then weeks and even months without anything happening. You want a lawyer who will work hard on your behalf and immediately follow up on all the assignments.
Willingness to Work Seriously with You
When you have a legal problem, you need legal information. Lawyers, of course, are the main source of this information, but if you buy all the information needed at their rates of $ 150 to $ 450 per hour, you will immediately empty your bank account. In fact, there are still many lawyers who will work with you to help you get good working knowledge about the principles and legal procedures that you need to deal with your problem.