If you find yourself needing the guidance of an attorney, you might be thinking that the best way to find a good attorney is to starting asking for names from family, friends and co-workers. Even though family and friends can offer well-meaning advice, you want to find an attorney who can meet your specific needs.
Here are some tips on finding a good lawyer:
Consider the Suit
Are you filing a civil or criminal lawsuit? What size settlement are you seeking? An attorney who handles divorce cases may have helped your cousin, Fred but be at a total loss as to how to help you arrange for an adoption. Figure out the reasons why you need an attorney and what you wish to accomplish before picking up the phone.
Call the Bar Association
The bar association in most states offers a referral line to provide the names and contact information of attorneys licensed to practice in your state. Most associations will provide at least the names of three attorneys whose area of practice is best suited to your needs.
Be Careful of the Yellow Pages
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the best attorneys always have the biggest ads in the yellow pages. Very often the best attorneys have small listings because they have built a successful practice based on their good reputation.
Use Consultations as Interviews
Many attorneys will provide a free 30 minute consultation either over the phone or in person to learn more about the reasons you are needing the help of an attorney as well as to learn your goals in securing an attorney’s services. Consider the consultation as a time for you to learn if you feel comfortable with the personality of an individual attorney as well as to ask about fees, terms of payment, as well as possibilities for out-of-court settlement.
The consultation is an especially good time to learn what kinds of experiences and success the attorney has had in the past as well as to learn what a realistic expectation might be in terms of settlement or resolution of your case.
Look at Your Options
If you are over 65 or meet certain income qualifications, you might be eligible for pro bono (free) legal services. Contact the local Legal Aid office, the state bar association or a senior center to learn if you are eligible.
When you seek the advice of an attorney, you are not only asking someone to handle your legal affairs but you are also involving someone in your most personal and financial affairs. Take your time, ask questions, and get answers before making any decisions about choosing an attorney to represent you.
Hiring an attorney is a matter of not only finding a skilled advocate but also of finding someone who can represent your best interests and who can help you review all options.
As a last note
Keep in mind that the best attorney might never take your case to court but instead may help you find a less expensive and better outcome through an out-of-court resolution.