The best legal advise you can get, is to get a good lawyer
There’s a joke in the legal profession that the person who represents himself or herself has a fool for a client. Indeed, the legal field is, to say the least, very complicated to navigate on one’s own. Lawyers have pretty much solidified their place in our lives, despite Shakespeare once prophesying that in order to achieve societal harmony, first we must, “Kill all the lawyers.” Once we have accepted this reality, of the necessity of having doctors of jurisprudence argue our disputes, there is the matter of finding a good lawyer to fight your fight.
For starters, heed this wisdom from experienced litigants, who concur that how you choose your lawyer is often a reliable predictor of your case’s success. The best referral is from a personal or professional acquaintance who has had a winning experience with a lawyer. In order to get a referral, it may be embarrassing to confide in others that you need legal help, but chances are they have been there themselves, and if you’re lucky, they may have someone good to recommend.
If no one you know can refer you to an attorney, utilize some of the online sites to locate and check ratings on lawyers, similar to Yelp – which can be a source in itself, though a low-credibility one due to their pay-to-play business model. One of the more popular rating sites is Avvo. While all review sites contain fraudulent reviews, generally they still can provide some insight if read with a discriminating eye. Usually you can spot a fake review by either its effusively enthusiastic narrative with no critical comments, or its overly nasty and negative invective that might have been written by a sore-loser litigant who was actually beaten by the lawyer they are reviewing; so check out the middle-of-the road reviews as well as the top and bottom reviews to get the fairest assessment of the lawyer.
When it comes to the in-person or phone interview part of the hiring process, it’s important that you have a positive rapport with your would-be attorney. Many attorney’s will offer a free consultation, so take advantage of this meeting to feel out the attorney’s manner and tone.
Trust will be a crucial part of your relationship with your attorney, so you must feel that this is a person you can trust on both a personal and professional level. If an attorney suggests ethically or legally questionable strategies, such as hiding money in a bankruptcy proceeding, then run don’t walk away from that attorney. If a lawyer has a shady modus operandi, you can bet he or she will be shady in business practices, including in client-attorney dealings.
One of the biggest complaints clients express regarding attorneys is that attorneys do not return calls in a timely manner and are unresponsive to their emails; so ask an attorney candidate what his or her response time will be when you call or email, i.e. , calls are returned within 24 hours. Make sure your attorney has the bandwidth to give your case proper attention. If it was hard to get an appointment because their office was too busy, chances are they will be too busy to return calls and to give due attention to your matter.
Just as you would with a doctor how many times he or she has performed a procedure you must undergo, ask your attorney what his or her experience is in the pertinent area of law and how many cases they have handled like yours. You would not want a doctor to be doing his first surgery on you, just as you do not want to be an attorney’s first case in a particular area of law.
Make sure they have ample experience and a favorable win record in the proper field. While a family law attorney may have an excellent record in custody matters, they may never have tried a personal injury case, defended an DUI, or filed a bankruptcy, so search for a specialist, such as personal injury attorney tampa, for the best results.
Just because you have a trusted friend or acquaintance who is a lawyer, this does not mean he or she can handle your case. Even if a lawyer friend offers you services pro bono, if that lawyer is a wrong fit, it is not worth any savings you might realize, if you lose your case because they did not give qualified advice.
Often the deciding factor in hiring an attorney is price. Fees will vary widely depending on the experience of the attorney. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250 an hour to $650 an hour, depending on the expertise your case requires. Make sure in your retainer agreement with the attorney that there is an understanding of how they bill, such as in 10- or 20-minute increments. Many attorneys will require an upfront retainer that can be a couple thousand dollars or $20,000, depending on your type of case. If you are not able to reach a settlement, and as trial approaches, an attorney may require a retainer of over $100,000 if they expect your trial to last for several days or longer. Attorneys know that after trial is over, it is very difficult to collect fees – especially if they do not win the case – so that is why they collect payment upfront.
It is hardly ever the case that the hiring a lawyer is not an expensive endeavor. If worse comes to worse, and you have to use legal intervention to settle a dispute, the least you can do is choose your attorney wisely so that you have the best chances at a favorable outcome.