A little research and planning can make a big difference.
Choosing the right attorney for your particular needs should not generally be a hasty decision.
When I am asked to refer a friend, family member, or an existing civil client to a family or criminal law attorney, I take several aspects into consideration. I always take into consideration not only the attorney’s ability and experience to handle the client’s particular needs, but also how well I feel the client and attorney’s personalities might get along. I do not take the endeavor lightly, and neither should you when choosing an attorney for yourself.
Of course there are some basic considerations. As when choosing any professional, make sure the person you call is licensed in their field (the State Bar, Contractor’s Board, The Department of Real Estate, even solar sales persons need to be licensed)
Top 5 Considerations
- Area of Law
Most attorneys choose to practice in one, or a few related, areas of law. Most clients don’t realize that even procedurally, the different areas of law require a mastery of different sets of statutory and case law. For example, bankruptcy is governed by federal law and those attorneys appear in federal court with its own laws and procedural rules.
If you need an attorney to defend you in a civil lawsuit, file a complaint, or to assist you with your contract or business needs, then you likely need to contact a civil attorney with a wide range of experience in both litigation and transactional work.
In addition to someone who practices in the area of law you require, choose an attorney with experience in cases similar to your own, or the transactional services you need. Not all criminal defense attorneys have handled a murder case; not all civil attorneys have successfully tried a case against a governmental entity.
The laws which govern many areas of law vary by state. You want to insure that you choose an attorney who is best situated to be familiar with the laws in the state in which you have been sued, the action needs to be filed, or where the property at issue is located.
Furthermore, it is important that you choose an attorney who practices in the county (or counties) where your particular legal issue is situated.
This is important for several reasons: you need to be able to meet with your attorney face-to-face to develop a trusting relationship and to get a “feel” for what sort of person and attorney they are. Attorneys also develop relationships with judges, courtroom staff, clerks, opposing counsel, all of which can serve to provide you with the best advice through a difficult time. Every superior court in every county has their own rules and it is important that your attorney knows what is expected in the courtroom.
Although all of the above are important considerations it is imperative that you choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable, whom you trust, and who you feel is capable of communicating with you as a partner in the legal endeavor, who understands they work for you; someone who understands your particular needs and circumstances and doesn’t treat you as just another billable entity. A person who will not only work for you but who will exercise good judgment and keep you informed through every step of the process. Which brings me to….
- Bigger is Not Always Better
It still amazes me how some small business owners and/or litigants immediately go towards the largest firm they can find. True, most large firms will have vast resources, a number of attorneys practicing in several different areas of law. Some firms have many support staff. However, common sense and practice suggests that if you need an attorney for a civil case you probably do not need to pay the large firm prices just because they have an insurance defense practice area in the same building. Choosing an attorney with whom you can communicate and feel comfortable, is likely more important than the name on the large building.
Take The Time To Select the Right Attorney for You and Your Needs
Some people searching for an attorney jump to retain the first one they talk to only to find out after their initial selection that they made the wrong choice. The attorney for you is out there; it is your choice, don’t take it lightly. Find an attorney who fits your needs and will look after your best interests.
1 thought on “Choosing an Attorney”
Excellent advice! I tell the same thing to my clients.
All your five points are excellent. My personal favorites are 4 and 5. I tell clients all the time that when they hire me, we become a team. It’s important that the team can play well together.
And, as for small, like you I’m a solo practitioner.
Congratulations on your new website! It looks fantastic! (I have no idea why I think that, except that it does look fantastic.) I wish you even more success in the future than you have already had in the past.