Friday, August 24, 2012

6 Steps to Finding the Best Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is often one of the most critical choices you can make in some of the most difficult situations in your life. Whether you're going through a divorce, buying a piece of property, selling a business, or you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident, having the right lawyer to represent your interests is essential in ensuring you will have the best possible outcome in your case. Hiring a lawyer is also a big investment. Before you spend your hard-earned money on legal representation, you want to make sure you are getting what you're paying for. Here are 6 steps you can take to make sure you have the best lawyer possible to represent you in your case.  

1. Identify your legal issue

Not every law firm handles every type of case. You want to make sure the lawyer you hire has experience and expertise in the kind of case you actually have. It won’t help you much if you’re lawyer has a lot of experience in corporate cases, but you’re getting a divorce.

2. Gather references and investigate credentials

It is very likely that someone you know has hired a lawyer at some point. Ask them about their experience and whether or not they would recommend that attorney and why. Personal references are a great way to start your search for the right lawyer, but it shouldn’t be your last step.

3. Do your homework

Look at the lawyer’s website. Does it look professional? Is it easy to use? Do they practice the type of law you’re looking for? Are any of the firm’s attorneys board certified (this means they are certified as experts by the Florida Bar)?

4. Make an appointment for a consultation

You can usually make a consultation appointment right over the phone. Note whether the person you’re talking to is courteous and helpful. In most cases, it shouldn’t take longer than 24 hours to receive a returned phone call.

5. Ask questions

During your initial consultation with an attorney, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. A good lawyer should be both able and happy to answer questions like these: 
  • What is your experience in cases like mine?
  • How many cases have you handled in this area? 
  • How long do these types of cases usually take to resolve? 
  • How and how often will I be billed? 
  • Who will actually be handling my case? (Some lawyers who advertise are not actually the attorney that will be handling your case when you walk through the door. Make sure the attorney you meet with is the one who will be working on your case.) 
Listen carefully, take notes, and write down any information you receive. Make sure this lawyer is a member of your state bar association. Check for peer reviews and client feedback on law review websites like Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo.

6. Make sure you’re comfortable

How was your experience during your first visit to the attorney’s office? Were you treated well? Did you feel comfortable? Was the attorney professional? Did he or she put you at ease? Above all else, you should feel like you can trust your attorney to protect your interests. Finding someone that you feel comfortable with is essential to having a successful attorney-client relationship.