If you’re suddenly in need of an attorney you’re probably not in the most objective state of mind to begin with. Legal issues can be extremely emotional. From a wrongfully issued speeding ticket to a divorce, legal problems have the potential to bring out the worst decision-making in all of us. That’s why it’s important to be careful when choosing an attorney lest you make a mistake and hire the wrong type, at the wrong firm. Legal matters are serious but luckily there are tips to help ensure that you’ve made the right decision concerning an attorney.
Attorney’s can be expensive, especially high profile defense attorneys. During the initial consultation ask the office about their payment arrangements and get a statement concerning billable hours. You want to know exactly what you’re paying for and how much.
You want your attorney to be local, or at least, in the relative vicinity of where you live. No one wants to drive an hour there and an hour back from the law office. Your time matters so choose an appropriately located law office.
Depending on your specific legal issue, you should hire the appropriate attorney. For instance, hiring a divorce attorney for your tax issue probably isn’t the most effective tactic. Also, if you expect to go to trial, hire a litigator, or an attorney trained for open court. Otherwise you may find mediators, or other such attorneys to be more effective.
Size of the firm
For one on one attention, smaller firms are a better bet than big, corporate law firms. However, if it’s your business that’s legally involved, hiring a large firm with copious resources will most likely be better equipped to help you in a complex legal battle.
This isn’t just about where the attorney went to law school, although that may matter, but rather what kind of experience the firm has. One with a solid and successful litigating track record (how many cases they’ve won) is something to ask about. You also may want to check professional affiliations. Many successful attorneys are asked to sit on boards of various non-profits. It’s your right to read resumes and check credentials.
These guidelines will help you get started but first and foremost, make sure that the attorney is a solid professional with a good track record. And go with your gut. If it feels like a bad match, don’t force it. They’re on your side and it’s crucial that you trust the people you hire to defend you.
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