How Can I Make Sure I Picked the Right Lawyer?

By Chris QueenLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:20 PM ET
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When you need legal representation ― whether it’s for a court case or a contract ― you don’t want to take a chance on just any lawyer. Finding the right attorney can make the difference between a successful experience and complete frustration. Because your relationship with your lawyer or legal team is more than just a single transaction, you should make sure that you’re making the right decision.

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If you’re searching for an attorney to assist you with legal matters, there are certain questions you should ask about the lawyers you’re researching. Asking these questions can help you determine if an attorney or law firm is the right one for your needs.

Does the Attorney Have the Right Experience?

When you’re searching for a lawyer, one of the most critical factors you should consider is the attorney’s experience. While it’s true a younger or less-experienced attorney may help you or win your case, a more seasoned attorney can give you peace of mind. How many years have they practiced, particularly within your state? It’s important that your attorney is familiar with your state or local area. How many cases does the lawyer have under their belt?

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@JudgeDillard/Twitter

You should also examine the attorney’s record. Have they ever been suspended by the state bar or undergone any disciplinary actions? Research ratings and reviews from prior clients and check out the attorney or firm’s website to determine their depth of experience.

Does the Attorney Specialize in Your Situation?

Lawyers and law firms often specialize in particular areas or disciplines, and it’s crucial for you to find an attorney who understands your particular situation. Because many firms handle specific practice areas, do your homework on what area you need and what attorneys can represent that specialty, such as divorce or personal injury.

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Double-checking to make sure your lawyer concentrates on the area of expertise you need will prevent frustration as your case or situation progresses. For example, you don’t want to hire a divorce attorney to handle your tax case, and you don’t need a DUI attorney to negotiate a mortgage closing. Fortunately, most lawyers will let you know ahead of time that they won’t be able to handle your particular case if it’s not related to their specialty.

Is the Attorney Clear on What They’ll Charge You?

Another consideration ― one that may be the most important concern ― involves the fees that your attorney may charge. Legal representation can be expensive, so it’s vital to know before you begin a relationship with a lawyer what they’ll charge to assist you. See if they charge hourly rates or base their charges on contingency. Ask your attorney for an estimate of the potential expenses. Find out what your case may cost you in the long run.

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Be wary of any hidden charges that a lawyer or law firm may impose. Don’t be afraid to ask if the attorney or firm charges for travel, research, copies and other elements of your case. Your legal representation shouldn’t break you, so be sure you can afford what your attorney wants to charge.

Does the Attorney Have a Team to Help You?

The old television cliche of the one-man-show lawyer who handles a case by himself is as fake as the character’s Hollywood accent. Most attorneys today have teams that assist them in taking care of matters for their clients. If a lawyer is part of a larger firm, chances are the firm has paralegals and assistants who may help with your situation.

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Even smaller firms or individual attorneys may have staff members to help handle your case. Knowing whether your attorney has a team to help represent you can affect your peace of mind, but it can also affect billing rates, so find out what kind of support your lawyer will use in your case.

Does the Attorney Exhibit Professional Behavior?

The professionalism of the attorney or law firm that you choose as your legal representative can go a long way in ensuring your satisfaction and peace of mind with your case. You want a lawyer who will return phone calls in a timely manner and show up on time for meetings and appointments.

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The appearance and demeanor of your lawyer can also help you feel at ease with your representation. Is your attorney neatly dressed, and do they treat you and everyone involved in your situation with respect and courtesy? It’s also essential to make sure that you and your lawyer get along well personally. If you have a bad feeling about the lawyer after initially meeting with them, it’s best to find another with whom you’re more comfortable.