Legal Topics


How to Choose a Good Lawyer

There are plenty of good reasons for wanting to hire a lawyer or attorney. But with so many legal firms and specialty lawyers in the market, how can anyone possibly choose the right one for their case?

Fortunately, having the right criteria can make a difference. Here are some standards and tips you can put into practice during your search for a good lawyer.

Where to Look

The first place to begin your search for a lawyer is through a personal referral. Whether it's from a friend, family member, or coworker, you'll get firsthand knowledge of how their lawyer handled their case and how comfortable they felt being that lawyer's client. The only downside to this approach is that your friend's case might not be related to the issue you're facing, so you might have to look elsewhere for a suitable lawyer.

You can also look into established legal organizations for a good reference. Two types of groups to consider are state bar associations and volunteer legal organizations. A state bar association is guaranteed to help you find a lawyer licensed to practice in your state, while a volunteer legal organization can be useful for clients coming from specific backgrounds (like being in an ethnic minority or low-income neighborhood) or dealing with specific legal issues (like immigration or family law).

Finally, you can always fall back on an Internet search for references. Websites like FindLaw and will provide you with online directories for a variety of legal services. Be advised, though, that you'll have be diligent when it comes to searching through so many categories and listings before you find a lawyer you like.

What to Ask

Not all attorneys are created equal. If you want to get the best legal defense, you'll need to interview your candidates for your new attorney.

When you're interviewing a lawyer, be prepared to ask the following questions:

* Have they handled other cases that were similar to yours?

* How long has the lawyer been in practice?

* What is the lawyer's current caseload?

* What other special training can they bring besides their law degree?

* What's the fee arrangement and is it negotiable?

* Will the lawyer handle your case directly or give it a paralegal?

* What (in their honest opinion) is the likely outcome of your case?

How to Decide

There are 3 essential qualities that you should look in a lawyer who will has the potential to work for you. First, you'll want a lawyer who has a good record at handling cases similar to yours and a professional reputation. Secondly, you'll want to see if the lawyer's fee structure is fair and clear. A small dispute shouldn't warrant an expensive fee or surprise costs. Finally, a good lawyer should always be in touch with their client and available for all their needs. If you feel comfortable with how your attorney is responding to your queries and managing your case, then you'll know if you've made the right choice.

Image by Jacob Bøtter on Flickr

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