Jim Morrison was right. People are strange, when you’re a stranger. It’s hard to know who to trust in this big, lonely world. Finding the right legal representation for you and your family can be especially difficult (or, incredibly simple, if you read this article before consulting attorneys).
Lawyers are like Charon. No, not in that they’re hell spawn. They’re like tour guides, worldly navigators through the great and complex legal waterways, without whom it might be too treacherous to continue. When considering counsel, it’s only wise to consider other’s opinions (reviews, friends, family, coworkers, companies, and anyone else who may know the lawyers in question) and look into their credentials (via the local/state bar website).
A good attorney will listen to your wishes with an open-mind, ensure you’re treated fairly by the legal system/other side, and help you understand where you’re headed at every step in the case. You’ll want to find someone who’ll look out for you best interests AND get along well with you and/or your family throughout the lifetime of your case.
Identifying whether an attorney may be overly aggressive in strategy for your needs, totally disinterested in doing their job, a heavy-hitter despite their age/experience, or entirely compassionate for everyone under their legal wing, is imperative.
You should feel confident in your choice of attorney well before pen hits paper.
Know Your Case & Budget
First things first: what are you trying to achieve? And for how much?
Need someone to dispute a contract? Divorce a particularly unruly ex? Write your last Will and Testament? If you’re looking for a lawyer, make sure you know what your case entails (even if it’s just the superficial bits, the attorney will outline the incidentals before the ink dries, anyway). That way, you’ll know who you need to be looking at: ones experienced in your area of need.
It’s equally important to know your budget. Most of the time, the quality of an attorney is directly proportional to their fees. There are good attorneys at lower rates. Do your research right and you’ll definitely find them.
Recommendations from friends, Lawyer Referrals, & Helpful Socials
The Holy Trinity of attorney-finding advice. Ask friends, ask lawyers for recommendations and interview lawyers yourself, and/or check social accounts (as well as your local Bar Admissions website.). More on that below.
A Brief Note On Attorneys Fees:
Lawyer fees tend to be set up one of three ways: hourly, a one-time flat rate, or a percentage of anything won in court. If it’s hourly, ask for an estimate of the hours and potential total cost. The exact numbers vary from firm to firm, locale to locale, practice area to practice area, and, especially, case to case. The more complex the case, the more time it may take to resolve and thus the more expensive it’ll be.
Ask Those You Trust
Direct Referral From Friends, Family, And Perhaps Everyone Else
Direct referral from friends, family, colleagues, businesses (like insurance agents, bankers, and/or specific agencies dealing in real estate, elderly care, the VA, etc.), alumni network, career-oriented social media platforms, etc. is always a good way to find an attorney. Businesses especially have a vested interest in giving out useful recommendations, as they aren’t going to risk their reputation on poor performers.
Ask your extended circle for recommendations. Research their bar credentials (disciplinary action, current standing, etc.), previous employment/experiences on LinkedIn or trials attached to their name, and check out other peoples’ reviews left on their Google (or Yelp) business page. Find a lawyer you feel is worthy of your trust.
Remember that an attorney’s track record isn’t a guarantee (whether or not those you know won their case and sing praises to them on the regular). Even the greatest of lawyers make bad calls, and even a history of positive outcomes doesn’t guarantee yours.
Ask An Attorney
Good lawyers take the case and learn on the fly, great lawyers refer out.
No one knows a lawyer like another lawyer. Local lawyers, especially, know other local lawyers. And great lawyers make waves other lawyers notice. If you were to ask a lawyer: if they were in your shoes, who’d they choose to represent them? They wouldn’t hesitate.
A lawyer’s personal recommendation is surefire. They wouldn’t risk their own reputation sending you to someone that’d make them look bad, after all.
Be sure to mention your budget when asking for referrals.
It couldn’t hurt to interview a few attorneys (especially ones recommended by friends and other lawyers). Consultations can be pricey, so be sure to research each lawyer before scheduling such.
Ask about their experience with cases similar to yours, ask about fees, ask about success rates, ask about anything relevant you can think of (maybe look up questions online, beforehand). Treat your time talking with each lawyer like you’re the head of HR, interviewing them for a job. ‘Cause that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Choose an attorney who’s transparent, perhaps even bluntly honest with you. Someone who understands where you’re coming from and makes you feel confident in your potential for success.
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you could sit in on a few trials (courts being public proceedings) and watch lawyers work their magic. Make sure you go early and choose a department you think your case may eventually end up in if it goes to trial. If you find ones you like, ask them for a business card or look them up. (This method is probably best for litigation and criminal defense cases).
Social Sites For Finding Lawyers
The Power Of The Internet
Check out sites like: Avvo, RocketLawyer, LegalZoom, Yelp, Reddit, and each person’s/company’s Google business page. Anywhere reviews are common are a good spot to research previous cases.
Contact your local or state Bar Association for assistance. They can help you figure out which type of lawyer you need for your specific case, as well as provide you with referrals. Utilizing the local/state Bar’s website and google, you can cross-check that list of names, ensuring good standing and positive reviews/articles regarding other cases they’ve handled. You can also look on LinkedIn to see how much experience they have in their specific practice area, contact previous employers, etc.
Additionally, you can try checking online archives of local papers for stories regarding cases similar to yours. If the plaintiffs/defendants won, perhaps their attorneys may be of assistance to you.
Signs Of An Unethical Attorney
Finding trustworthy counsel isn’t easy. As previously stated, be sure to check your state’s licensing website to find out whether they’re in good standing (and, in some cases, if they’re even an attorney at all). A history of disciplinary action is most assuredly a sign of an unethical attorney.
Avoid “ambulance chasers.” The way in which attorneys are legally permitted to advertise is highly regulated. It’s not legal to solicit clients directly for business, clients must contact a firm to initiate any sort of partnership. If an attorney were to hand out business cards at the scene of an accident, such would be considered an ethical violation in most jurisdictions. If they don’t care for the rules, why would they keep in line for your case? They could potentially be leaving you with a bigger headache than the Honda Civic had, slamming into the back of your vehicle at that red light, bouncing your head off the wheel.
Don’t trust anyone who’d ask you to sign blank documents or won’t allow you to review case filings before submission. This isn’t a proprietary industry, nothing related to your case should be kept away from you.
Important to know (in general, ethicality aside), when you’ve made your decision:
- Review and save your case files. It’s important that your forms are submitted with the correct personal data, so check over things like date of birth, names, and address, before they’re filed. Typos can delay the processing of forms and, in certain cases, you can even be held liable for inaccuracies. Keep a copy of every submission for your records.
- Tell your attorney the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Depending on the type of case and/or relevance, your past may come up. Attorneys craft the perfect strategy for you based on the information you provide. If you give them an incomplete or lie-laden account, you WILL get bad advice.
Trust Your Gut
Common sense will take you a long way. Trust your gut, it’ll tell you when you’re dealing with someone out of their depth, utterly disinterested, overtly reckless or unfeeling, or whatever else you may feel isn’t the right fit for you.
We Have Your Back
Although searching for a compatible representative that’ll put you and your family’s interests at the forefront may appear daunting, our experienced attorneys will always work tirelessly to resolve your case or refer you to the best of the best for your needs. You deserve someone who’ll fight relentlessly, tactically for the best possible outcome. Contact us today.
Check out some of the legal services SWFL Legal Solutions has to offer you here.