When you find yourself in a situation where you need a lawyer, it's never easy. You're most likely already dealing with a lot of stress and hardships, so it's important that the person you hire to represent your legal interests is up to the task. There are so many different lawyers out there that choosing one can seem overwhelming at first, but there are some helpful pieces of advice that can make the process of finding and hiring the right lawyer much easier.
1. Know The Fields Of Law
The first thing you need to consider is why you need a lawyer in the first place. If you've sustained a personal injury, for example, the fact that your friend knows a great criminal defense attorney won't do you much good. The legal team from McMath Woods P.A. makes it pretty clear on their website that understanding the field of law you need your lawyer to be specialized in is of the utmost importance. While it's impossible to be aware of every single field of law, there are some common ones you'll come across much more often than others.
Personal injury, criminal defense, family law, consumer law, employment law, and environmental law are just a few of the branches of law that the average person might need to consult with a lawyer about during their lifetime. Because of this, it's important to familiarize yourself with the different areas of law you might need legal advice on. It could be a good idea to try and think about the legal issue you have in a way that would let you condense it in a single phrase. That way, you can type it into your search engine and that will help you determine what kind of lawyer you need.
2. Availability And Location
It can be tempting to hire the most sought-out lawyer in your area, but that's not always the best way to go about it. One of the key traits to look for in an attorney is their availability. You want someone that has enough time in their schedule to really focus on your case and give it their all. The more reputable and well-established the attorney is, the busier they tend to be. If the firm they work for is large enough, having a lot of active cases doesn't have to mean they won't have time to handle yours as well.
However, it's important to confirm exactly who will be handling your case in this situation - the lawyer you're talking to, or somebody else from the firm. As for the location, more often than not, it pays to hire locally. The law can differ from state to state, and making sure that the lawyer you hire is well-acquainted with the legal system of your state can be a great help. You don't want to risk missing a deadline or having a piece of evidence ignored because your lawyer didn't realize it's not admissible in your state, or that the timeframes for taking certain legal steps are different.
3. Ask The Right Questions
While you might want to get right to the meat of the matter and discuss the specifics of your case during your consultation, you need to establish that the person you're talking to is the best person to give you the legal advice you need. It's important to ask your potential lawyer about their experience in dealing with cases similar to yours. As already mentioned, asking about their availability is also important. Additionally, you want to find out how much would pursuing this case cost you.
You need to make sure that you discuss this matter with your prospective lawyers and come up with a plan together. Don't be shy about asking questions, and if you're not satisfied with their answers, consider looking for someone else. Lastly, you want them to tell you about the legal remedies you have at your disposal. They're the expert, so if they feel that there's a certain path to handle your case that will yield the best results, you should probably listen. That said, some lawyers tend to be trial-shy, and you want someone on your side that's not afraid to take the matter to court if they're not satisfied with how the settlement deal is going.
4. Communication Skills
It's not always easy to understand legal jargon - especially when you're already under a lot of stress. A good lawyer simply must have the communication skills needed to explain everything to you in an easy-to-understand manner. Besides that, they need to be able to show compassion and patience. If you need certain things explained multiple times, your lawyer should be willing to do that for you.
While they are certainly not there to play a therapist, and they might have (hopefully) dealt with lots of cases similar to yours before, they need to understand that this is not just a case for you - it's your life - so they need to act accordingly. Being dismissive and overly curt when talking with you is a good sign that you need to look for a lawyer elsewhere.
5. Local Bar Association
Once you narrow down your choices to a few lawyers, it's a good idea to head on over to the local bar association website and search for their profiles on there. It will provide you with some crucial information, namely whether there were any official complaints made against them, and the verdicts of past cases similar to yours.
If you find out that several different parties have filed grievances against your prospective lawyer in the past, it's probably a good idea to look for someone else - no matter how talented they might be. That said, it's important to realize that legal proceedings tend to stir a lot of emotions with clients. Not every case is winnable, and even the best lawyers sometimes have to lose. A complaint being made doesn't mean that it was founded, so if there's just one on there - it could be that it was made by someone due to their own personal bias.
Finding yourself in a situation where you're in need of legal assistance can be rather stressful, especially since you probably don't have the time to learn the ins and outs of legal proceedings. Thankfully - with some thorough research, it's possible to find someone suitable for your case - but not just anyone will do.
You want someone who has enough experience to handle your case correctly, someone that has reasonable availability and isn't trying to overcharge you for their services. By keeping the 5 tips mentioned above in mind, you'll have no problems finding the right lawyer for your case.