things you need to know before hiring a personal lawyer
Despite what you might see on TV, not everyone has the time or money to hire their own lawyer.
Plus, if you do need one, the last thing you want to do is waste your money on a run-of-the-mill attorney who charges more than you can afford and doesn’t really know your needs.
If you need legal help but don’t know where to start, make sure to ask yourself these ten questions before hiring a personal lawyer.
1) Not all lawyers are created equal
Different types of lawyers exist for different needs. Some lawyers specialize in tax law, some in criminal law, and some in family law.
Hiring a generalist may not be the best choice if you’re looking for an expert.
If you’re trying to find someone who specializes in your area of concern, make sure they have experience with your type of case.
Find out how many cases they’ve had similar to yours, how many they’ve won, and whether or not they’ve had any disciplinary actions taken against them by their state’s bar association.
After reading through these ten things you should know before choosing a personal lawyer, consider this: It’s always important to do your research when it comes to something as important as legal counsel.
2) The more experience the better
A good first step is to find out how many years of experience the potential attorney has in this type of law. If it’s less than five, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Beyond that, the more experience they have handling these types of cases, the better.
The individual should also take into account the size and reputation of their firm.
You want to make sure your case is handled by someone who knows what they are doing and will devote their time and energy to it.
The last thing you want when looking for legal representation is an overworked lawyer who isn’t really interested in your case because there are so many other high profile ones coming up.
3) Get referrals from friends or family
You can also get referrals from friends or family members who have used the services of lawyers in the past.
You should ask these people about their experiences and what they liked or disliked about the service provider.
If possible, find out why the person chose that lawyer for his or her case.
When looking at reviews, take note of when the review was written, since new clients may have had better service than those that were dissatisfied with a legal representative’s work.
It is important to know how much experience your potential attorney has handling cases like yours so that you are confident that he or she is qualified enough to handle your case well.
4) Make sure the lawyer is licensed
When looking for the right lawyer, it’s important that they are licensed in your state and have experience in the area of law that you are dealing with.
For example, if you were involved in an auto accident and wanted to sue the other driver, it would be best to find a personal injury attorney.
If you are being accused of a crime and want to clear your name, then look for a criminal defense lawyer.
If you’re filing bankruptcy, then you’ll want an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
5) Ask about fees
As far as costs go, legal fees vary from one attorney to another.
Some attorneys charge by the hour while others will charge by the project. Rates also depend on how complicated your case is and how much work will be involved.
Fees can range anywhere from $150 an hour for routine matters, up to more than $500 an hour for complex cases that require extensive research or expert testimony.
The best way to find out about potential rates is to ask the potential lawyer these questions:
-What are your hourly rates?
-How do you typically bill? Hourly or flat fee?
-Do I pay any expenses up front? For example, court filing fees or deposition costs?
6) Inquire about availability
If the attorney has had experience in your field, they will be able to provide better advice and reduce the chance of miscommunication.
One of the best ways for finding an attorney is by asking friends or family for recommendations.
You can also find lawyers on social media, through your bank or by performing a Google search with the appropriate keywords.
Once you have found a potential candidate, it’s important to do some research on them and find out if there are any reviews from previous clients.
Make sure that both you and the lawyer are comfortable with each other’s work styles before finalizing anything.
7) Check out online reviews
Checking reviews is one of the best ways to find out if a particular lawyer is going to be the right fit for your needs.
Many of these reviews are written by people who have had their own experiences with the lawyers, so they can offer real insight into what it’s like working with them.
It’s worth noting that sometimes all you’ll see on a review is whether or not the reviewer would recommend the lawyer.
While this type of feedback may not seem as helpful, it could actually help weed out any bad attorneys since those reviews are unlikely to be positive.
One other thing to keep in mind when reading online reviews is that many law firms make sure to publish positive reviews on their site and remove negative ones in order to provide potential clients with more information about how great their firm really is.
8) Trust your gut
Do your research and find someone who knows their stuff, so they can make good decisions for you.
✓ Trust your gut. You’ll be working closely with this person and want to feel comfortable that they’re the right fit for you.
✓ Be up front about what’s important to you. For example, if cost is an issue, let them know this upfront rather than waiting until it becomes a problem later on.
✓ Ask lots of questions! charge, and try not to be surprised when they give you an estimate of how much it will cost.
You might also want to ask your friends or relatives if they know any good lawyers; this is one way that people find attorneys.