law

Top Things to Look For When Choosing a Lawyer

An attorney is required more often than many people realize. In fact, most people will end up working with a lawyer at one point or another. The reason the lawyer is needed can be anything from a misdemeanor charge to a divorce to the creation of a will. There are near-endless reasons that people hire attorneys today. No matter which type of lawyer that you plan to work with, there are several key things to look for as you try to choose the right one. Read on to find out the top five things a good lawyer needs to have.

The Right Experience

Hiring a general attorney can work very well for some things, but it is typically best to look for a lawyer with very specific experience in the area of the law where you need help. For example, family lawyers are typically the best choice for divorce cases while personal injury attorneys are best for auto accident injury cases. When an attorney has extensive experience in a particular area of the law, they are far more likely to be able to quickly and effectively secure a win for their client.

References

A good attorney will have numerous satisfied clients, and you have the right to ask for references from those clients. Ask a potential attorney if they can provide you with a short list of references, along with their contact information. Former clients that agree to give references for an attorney already know to expect occasional calls, and they will generally welcome the chance to talk about their own experience with the attorney. Ideally, one or more of those references had a case similar to yours. This gives you the chance to find out a bit more about what to expect as the case goes on.

Approachability

One of the things that tends to turn people away from some doctors is that some doctors use a constant stream of impossible-to-understand medical terminology. The situation is just the same with attorneys: If a lawyer tends to bury clients in a verbal mountain of legal jargon, they tend to lack approachability. A good attorney understands that their clients don’t have the same extensive legal knowledge that they themselves possess, so they make sure to explain legal terms in a way that can be easily understood.

Availability

Availability is one of the most important things to look for in a lawyer. Ask a potential attorney what their availability is for client contact. Can you reliably reach them by phone during business hours? Do they respond to emails promptly? How quickly do they respond to after-hours voicemail messages? You need a lawyer who considers your case to be important enough that they respond to you promptly when you have questions or concerns.

Reasonable Cost

A lawyer can charge anywhere from $50 per hour up to thousands of dollars per hour. The cost depends on a number of things, including the attorney’s experience level, the complexity of the case, the geographical location, and the attorney’s prestige level within the community. Costs can vary quite widely even within a small area of the country, so get quotes from at least three different law firms before making a choice. It’s always good to get the top lawyer around, but make sure that your budget can handle it before you actually hire them.

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Old businessman shaking hands with confident business woman at meeting.

Top Aspects to Look for When Selecting a Lawyer and Reasons to get Representation

When legal problems impact a business or an individual, you are left wondering what the right course of action would be in your given situation. Hiring an attorney may be one of your options. Yet you could be hesitant and filled with questions on whether your problem warrants the expertise of such a professional, whether this person can help you, and if you can actually afford their services. There are several aspects to look for in a lawyer who will be offering legal representation and advice so you select the right one.

Specialization

Some attorneys specialize in a certain area of law. Much like a doctor who specializes in heart surgery, a law professional will know general law practices but will seek a specialization to focus their knowledge and skills so they become an expert in that area of practice. When searching for representation, it is ideal to ask about what the law firm specializations in. Some lawyers may specialize in family law, business law, estate law, criminal law, personal injury or other specialties as you will find they have more cases completed in those categories.

Availability

Availability is an important aspect in many different ways. You will want your law professional to focus on your case fully and not have their time split up in too many directions. If the law firm is too busy to keep up with communication, you may feel that you haven’t received their complete services. Yet a busy attorney also has several advantages. If they have several ongoing cases, it shows that their services are desirable by other clients. Also, they may have effectively found the right balance in representing the interests of each client while taking on new caseloads.

Litigation Experience

Settling a case out of court in your favor is always desirable. Yet there may be times when a trial is inevitable. You want to find lawyers who have experience in litigation and shows the best qualities of confidence, professionalism, and knowledge of the court system. Courtroom environments can be a demanding experience for both you and the lawyer you select. So you want to find the person who has the endurance and perseverance to last no matter how long the court case may be.

Professional Certification and History

You want to ensure the person that you hire has all current certifications and professional memberships up-to-date and in good standing. State bar associations can provide a wealth of information in regards to disciplinary history, admission dates, and any additional certifications. By performing background checks, you can ensure that the law professional has gained all the necessary education and certification to practice law in your area.

Reasons to Get Representation

Just because you are not involved in a criminal or civil case does not mean that you shouldn’t get representation from a law firm. There are many reasons to seek out legal services. If you will be signing any contract and you are not sure about the details or if you will be signing away any rights, it is ideal to seek advice from professional lawyers. You can also hire an attorney if you are making a will, creating a business contract, or when adopting a child. Whenever you need legal advice or representation, a law firm can help.

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Top Things to Look for When Picking a Lawyer

People typically seek out an attorney for a legal solution to their legal problem. Whether you have incurred a personal injury due to the negligence of another, need an estate plan or are facing a divorce, you want to choose the right lawyer for your specific circumstances. Here are some top things to look for when picking a lawyer.

Expertise in Specific Area of Law

Most attorneys focus their law practice on two or three categories of law and don’t know that much about categories of law outside of their focus. Be sure to ask upfront if the attorney has expertise and experience in the specific area of law that your case relates to. For example, a copyright attorney will be unlikely to assist you in areas of family law or personal injury law. Be prepared to give a short summary of your facts when you consult with an attorney. The facts will let them determine if the issues fall within their practice area and expertise.

Litigation Experience

While arbitration and mediation are non-adversarial resolution methods that keep it out of the courtroom, some cases can’t be negotiated and wind up in the courtroom. Find out what litigation experience the attorney has. What is their success rate in courtroom trials? If it’s possible that your case could go to trial, you’ll want to choose an attorney who is confident, aggressive, professional and eloquent. Plus, you’ll want to ensure that they have access to resources, such as medical experts and accident reconstruction experts.

Compatibility

You’ll be working closely with your attorney, and it’s important that their style is compatible to yours. Do you both speak the same language? Communication is key here. You may not want an attorney who speaks in legalese. Does the lawyer understand your needs and wants? The bottom line is that you need to be able to easily get along with your attorney.

Affordability

Legal fees can be costly, and you need to look for an attorney who charges fees you can afford and pay schedules that are doable for your wallet. Common pay schedules include hourly rates, flat fees and contingency fees. Hourly rates are often charged in trial work and are billed to the client. With a flat fee, clients pay a flat fee upfront, and the fee covers the attorney’s work to completion. Often, preparation of wills and simple uncontested divorces have flat fees. Contingency fees are charged only if the attorney wins your case. This fee is typically found in personal injury cases. Ask the attorney what they charge and what’s included in the fee.

Number of Ongoing Cases

Finding out about how many ongoing cases an attorney has can give some insight into their availability and experience. And although a busy lawyer can signal that he or she has enough experience in the area you need, it may be a sign that he or she doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to your case. It’s a balancing act. You’ll have to weigh whether or not the attorney does have a healthy number of cases and can still respond to you in a timely manner. If the attorney can do both, you’ve found someone with a good balance.

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