The simple fact is most people don’t know a lawyer. That’s an easy fact for lawyers to forget; we’ve gone through law school, we work with lawyers each day, we meet new lawyers at various functions. For better or for worse, we know a lot of lawyers. But what do you do when you suddenly need a lawyer? You don’t know where to look or how to choose “the right” lawyer. On top of all that, you’re probably looking for a lawyer because something terrible just happened – so you’re also nervous, worried, and stressed, on top of being confused.
Where do I look for a lawyer?
Thanks to our shrinking world, it’s pretty easy to find a lawyer. We can search the Internet for anything and everything (you probably got to this article by asking Google: “How do I choose a lawyer?”). You can even tailor your search by looking for a specific type of lawyer (divorce, injury, real estate, etc.).
Odds are you belong to a group of some sort: church, school/alumni, sports league for the kids, neighborhood, etc. Don’t underestimate the power of networking (“I know a guy who knows someone”). Ask around.
Finding lawyers – at least numerous options – isn’t too difficult. But how do you know you’re hiring a good lawyer? How do you know you’ve found the “right” lawyer for you and your case?
How do I choose a good lawyer?
Here’s a secret: a lot of lawyers are good at what they do, assuming you’re talking to the right kind of lawyer. If you were injured, make sure you’re talking to a lawyer who handles injury cases. If you’re buying or selling a house, talk to lawyers who handle real estate matters. That sounds obvious, but be sure to look for lawyers who actually do what you want them to do.
Some lawyers are general practitioners – that’s OK sometimes, but other times you want someone who has a lot of experience in what you need. It makes sense, right? If I have the flu, I’ll see a general physician. If I blow out my knee dunking over Lebron James (humor me), I want to see an orthopedic surgeon. Some states (like Illinois) don’t allow lawyers to say they specialize, but looking at a lawyer’s website will give you good sense. Does the lawyer list a couple dozen practice areas or does she list just a few related areas?
Once you find a lawyer with experience in the field you need, how do you choose the best lawyer for you?
How do I choose the best lawyer for me?
The best lawyer in a particular practice area may not be the best lawyer for you. Once you have found lawyers that handle your type of case, I strongly urge you to speak with (preferably meet with) a few of them. Depending on the type of case you have, you may be working with this person for the better part of a year or more. You want your lawyer to be someone you can trust, someone you believe, and someone who genuinely cares about your case. You can find a lot of information online about an attorney, but you can’t get a sense about the kind of person that lawyer is without having a conversation.
I am always skeptical of the attorney who pressures a prospective client to sign up right away. Is there a deadline rapidly approaching in your case? If so, the attorney should be explaining why your selection is time-sensitive. If not, why is he or she adding stress to the equation? Your choice of a lawyer is very important, and the lawyer is the last person who should be adding pressure to your decision. You don’t want to drag your feet, but you should never feel rushed.
I hope this article better helps you understand the process of choosing a lawyer for your case. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!