How Do I Know Which Lawyer To Choose?
One of the benefits of the
LegalFish service is that it allows you the opportunity to hear from a
number of different lawyers who are interested in your business. But how
do you know which lawyer would be best suited for your matter? Although
price is certainly a consideration (see "How Much Will It Cost?"),
it is rarely wise to choose a lawyer based solely on the rate(s)
offered. Here are a few non-fee-related questions to consider in
selecting an attorney:
- Has the lawyer handled similar cases? What percentage
of the lawyer's cases are similar to yours? When was the last time the
lawyer handled a similar case?
- How long has the
lawyer been in practice? Where is the lawyer licensed to practice? Has
the lawyer been investigated or disciplined before by state licensing
authorities? If so, for what?
- What types of
results has the lawyer obtained in similar cases? How did those
resolutions come about? Settlement? Negotiation? Mediation? Arbitration?
- Ask to hear about cases like yours that
the lawyer may have handled. Remember: Age may have nothing to do with
the lawyer's ability to help you. A lawyer who has practiced for 20
years may have less experience with your type of problem than a lawyer
who is three years out of law school.
- Can the lawyer provide references to other clients?
- Who will work on your case? Will the lawyer do all of
the work or will legal assistants, paralegals, or other associates do
the work? Who will be the primary person with whom you will deal with on
a regular basis? If another attorney will be working on your case, ask
to meet with that attorney as well.
- Does the lawyer have a large caseload or coming trials that could affect his availability or attention to your case?
timeframe does the lawyer expect for your matter and what is the
lawyer's availability and schedule like during that timeframe?
Strategy and Philosophy
- How does the lawyer intend to approach your particular matter? How has the lawyer handled similar matters in the past?
the lawyer understand the nature of your business and the various
concerns to be weighed? Did the lawyer discuss with you the costs of
litigation as opposed to the costs of settlement?
the lawyer utilize alternative dispute measures such as mediation,
arbitration, conciliation, or negotiation? Has the lawyer explained the
process of litigation (if appropriate) and the alternatives to
- Can the lawyer explain the legal aspects of your case -
and the process you should expect - in a way that makes sense to you?
If the lawyer cannot explain things to you properly in an initial
meeting, there is no reason to believe that he or she will be able to
make a convincing presentation on your behalf.
you feel that the lawyer listened to you and was interested in your
matter? Is the lawyer comfortable and eager to help you understand the
issues and the legal process?
- Do you feel comfortable asking follow-up questions and does the lawyer seem knowledgeable in his or her responses?
- Does the lawyer tell you when certain questions require additional research to answer?
- Did the lawyer (or someone from the lawyer's office) respond promptly to your initial contact?
- Has the lawyer told you both the strengths and the weaknesses of your case?
the lawyer give you an estimate on overall costs and time? Are there
any alternative courses of action? If so, what are the advantages and
disadvantages of each one?
- How often will you need
to meet with the lawyer? How often will the lawyer call or write you to
give you updates on the case? Will the lawyer provide you with copies
of relevant documents?
- Has the lawyer advised you
that your communications with the lawyer are confidential? Has he or she
given you any instructions about discussing the case with others and
what you should and should not say?
- Were your
contacts with office staff and assistants pleasant? You may be dealing
with the lawyer's staff during the course of your case, and it is a good
idea to consider these relationships as well.
Comfort Level and Other Intangibles
- A lawyer-client relationship requires trust and confidence. Has the lawyer been able to inspire your trust and confidence?
- Do you feel comfortable in revealing to the lawyer all of the relevant information - not simply the "good" facts.
- Do you and the lawyer have similar philosophies concerning how your case should proceed?
you comfortable with the lawyer's assessment of the strengths and
weaknesses of your case? Of the potential value of the case? Of how long
the matter should take to resolve?
- Are you comfortable that the lawyer has the requisite skill and abilities to handle your case?
- Is the lawyer aggressive enough - or conciliatory enough - to make you feel comfortable with his or her approach to your matter?
the lawyer explained the nature of the lawyer-client relationship? As
the client, you have the right to make the final decisions in your case
on most issues. The lawyer should provide you with options, guidance,
and recommendations, but also respect your wishes as to how to proceed.
The questions above will serve
well as a guide to determining the right lawyer for your legal matter.
At the same time it is important to remember that a lawyer’s ability to
obtain your desired results is limited by the law and that they may not
be able to do or get everything that you feel you are entitled too.
Therefore, everyone seeking legal services should have reasonable
expectations as to what can be accomplished.