7 Things to Look for When Choosing an Attorney
7 Things to Look for When Choosing an Attorney
Finding the right attorney can be a difficult and sometimes daunting task, and yet choosing the right attorney to handle your case can make all the difference. In this article, we discuss seven things to look for during your search to make sure that you choose the right attorney for the job. For tips on how to go about your search, read our companion article, “Three Steps to Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case”. So, here you go: 7 things to look for when making your choice.
Experience in Your Case’s General Area of the Law
1. The right attorney for you will have significant experience in the broad area of law governing your situation. If you have injured your right foot on the job, you may need a really good workers’ compensation practitioner. It is not important that he or she have vast experience with right foot injuries. Knowledge and experience in the broad area of workers’ compensation law is a must. Similarly, I do not recommend hiring an automobile accident specialist to handle a case involving a boating accident and maritime law, for example, or to handle a patent dispute. Know what general area of the law applies to your case and look for a firm that practices in that particular area.
Experience with Similar Types of Clients
2. The right attorney for you will have experience representing others in your general situation. Some attorneys represent only Plaintiffs, and some represent only Defendants or their insurers. Some represent both Plaintiffs and Defendants, in separate cases. Some lawyers handle only business disputes, and some handle only personal injury claims. Some attorneys in general practice handle a variety of claims for a variety of clients. You will be well served to find an attorney with knowledge and experience representing others in your general situation.
Good Communication Skills
3. The right attorney for you will have a personality and demeanor which facilitates good communication. You will feel at home providing accurate and complete information to your attorney concerning the legal matter involved. Your attorney will be able to explain in terms you understand the law applicable to your situation. Your attorney will return phone calls and will keep you informed of important developments in your case. Litigation can be stressful, disputes can be unpleasant, and even contract negotiations can be frustrating. Good communication between lawyer and client often makes a big difference.
Located and Licensed in the Proper Jurisdiction
4. The right attorney for you will be located in the proper geographical area and will be well placed to represent you in the proper jurisdiction. We get inquiries from people needing legal help in many different states. The right attorney for a Defendant will be able to file responsive pleadings in the jurisdiction in which the case is pending. The right attorney for an injured Plaintiff will be able to commence suit in the proper jurisdiction and venue. Often this will be where the accident happened, the vessel is docked, or the Defendant is located. Although it is possible for attorneys to associate counsel in other states or jurisdictions, often it is not efficient to hire a Philadelphia lawyer to draft a Georgia dog will.
5. The right attorney for you will be trustworthy and you will lose no sleep worrying whether you can trust him or her to keep a confidence or safeguard your money. There are many indicators of trustworthiness, including experience and longevity in the legal profession, history of professional achievement, lack of a discipline record, and others.
On Your Side
6. The right attorney for you will be on your side. Although this seems to go without saying, the often-maligned legal profession, at its core, is about public service and often necessitates putting the rights and needs of clients above those of the attorney handling the case. The right attorney will put your interests above their own.
Up Front About Fees
7. The right attorney for you will discuss legal fees at the first meeting, will charge a reasonable fee, and will put your agreement in writing so that there is no confusion or second-guessing what you will owe for his or her services.
We hope that this information is helpful to those involved in the sometimes daunting task of finding the right attorney for the job that needs to be done.
Disclaimers – The rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers mandate that we let you know the following information to prevent any confusion or misunderstandings about the content of this article:
The above information is provided for the reader’s general knowledge only and is not intended to be legal advice for anyone’s particular situation. The law is ever-changing, and different circumstances may require the application of different law or result in the above guidelines being irrelevant. If you have legal questions related to this content, you should consult an attorney of your choosing for advice regarding your individual situation.
Each case that we work on is different, and successful results that we may discuss related to cases that we have handled in the past do not mean that similar results are necessarily achievable in future cases that we may handle.
John Townsend Cooper is the attorney responsible for this content. His office is located at 1476 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464.
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