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.
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.
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 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.
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.