Whether you’re going through a divorce or filing a personal injury claim, finding the right lawyer is the key to getting the best possible outcome for your case. The right lawyer is someone you can trust, someone you feel comfortable talking to, and someone who isn’t afraid to fight for your rights. How do you find a lawyer who meets these expectations (and your own personal standards)?
Finding a Lawyer
Knowing where to start your search is half the battle. There are many ways to find lawyers, but knowing where to find competent and experienced lawyers can be a challenge.
A word of mouth referral is exceptionally valuable when searching for a lawyer. Whether it be a friend, colleague, neighbor or family member, recommendations from people you trust can go a long way in helping you find the right lawyer for your case – particularly if they had a similar case.
Recommendations can be particularly helpful if they come from people who took the time to thoroughly vet their lawyers before hiring one. In this case, you know the lawyer is experienced, skilled and great to work with.
Use Lawyer Referral Services
If you cannot get a personal recommendation from someone, a lawyer referral service may be able to help.
Referral services must be approved by the state bar association, and some go the extra mile to carefully screen attorneys. Some service providers only list attorneys with certain qualifications or a particular level of experience. Others will simply provide you with a list of attorneys who are in good standing with the bar and maintain liability insurance. If you choose to use a referral service, inquire about their screening process (if any) to ensure that you will be connected with competent lawyers.
Ask Other Attorneys
Let’s say you already have a working relationship with a business attorney, but now you need a divorce lawyer. Your business attorney may be able to recommend a skilled and experienced lawyer who specializes in family law.
Most lawyers are well-connected and know the reputations of other lawyers in the area. When asking for a recommendation, you can also inquire about the lawyer’s demeanor, ethics and reputation in the community.
Choosing a Lawyer
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential lawyers, it’s time to narrow down your choices. There are several ways to weed out candidates who are unfit for the job.
Opt for Lawyers Who Specialize in Your Case
When choosing a lawyer, opt for someone who specializes in your type of case. If you’re going through a divorce, look for a lawyer who specializes in or focuses exclusively on divorce law.
A jack-of-all-trades lawyer may not have the expertise or experience you need to get a favorable outcome with your case.
Interview Prospective Lawyers
Take the time to interview every lawyer you’re considering. Remember: You will be working closely with your lawyer, so make the effort to at least meet each prospective candidate to get a feel for their personality.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer, if you don’t feel like you can trust your lawyer, or you just don’t like your lawyer’s personality, you may not get the outcome you desire with your case.
The interview is one of – if not the – most important parts of the search process. This meeting provides you with an opportunity to gauge the lawyer’s experience and competence.
Ask important questions, like:
- How long have you been practicing as a lawyer?
- What is your track record of success?
- Do you have any certifications or special skills?
- Who else would be working on my case, if anyone?
- Will I be charged any additional fees?
After you’ve finished interviewing a lawyer, take an assessment of the answers you received and cross off anyone who did not meet your standards.
Consider Personality, Communication and Promptness
Along with an assessment of the lawyer’s answers, you may also want to consider his or her personality, communication style and promptness.
- Was the lawyer on time for your appointment, or did you have to wait in the waiting room?
- Was the lawyer eager and willing to answer your questions?
- Do you like his or her personality?
Credentials and experience go a long way in the legal field, but if you don’t even like your lawyer as a person, your case may not go as smoothly as you might have hoped.
The right lawyer is someone: who you can trust, who specializes in your case type, who you get along with, and who has a track record of success. Depending on your case type, you may need someone who’s aggressive and not afraid to stand up for your rights.
Use the tips above to help you narrow down your choices and find the right lawyer for your case.
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