5 Steps to Finding the Best Attorney for Your Case
If you are reading this, perhaps you need to find an attorney, not just any attorney but one who knows the law. And, not just any attorney who knows the law, but one who knows how to apply the law to the facts of your case. Getting it right the first time can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
Whether you need help with some form of domestic mediation, visitation rights or a custody attorney highly experienced in parental rights, finding the right attorney should be a well-planned undertaking. When you look for attorneys online, there are many who claim to be "the best" at what they do. So, it can be difficult to choose based on advertising. Even calling the ABA might not produce the results you desire. So, what is one to do?
Below are five steps you can take to find a skilled and trustworthy attorney who can effectively represent you in court.
Finding the right attorney for you
1. Determine what your legal needs are
If you need help with child custody matters, guardianships or grandparents' rights, you don't want to hire a lawyer experienced in personal injuries because s/he has a 100% winning streak. From the outset, search for someone who specializes in the area in which you need representation.
2. Research and Recommendations
There is no substitute for doing your homework. While the internet is a great for conducting research, your family and friends are formidable sources from whom you can seek recommendations. In addition, there are bar associations, legal directories and a multitude of online resources.
3. Background checks
Conduct research on their backgrounds. You need to be sure that they are licensed to practice in your state or in the state in which your case will be argued. You need to check and see if they have been disciplined for any wrongdoing and if their license is current. The State Bar Association will have a list that you can use to to find out more background information on your state's attorneys.
4. Interview the Interviewer
You will answer a lot of questions and share a lot of personal information with the attorney you choose. Therefore, the element of trust will be front and center. Many attorneys offer a free consultation and this presents the perfect opportunity to interview them. Some of the questions you want to ask are:
a. How long have you practiced _________ law? What is your success rate?
b. What strategy would you use to argue/defend my case?
c. Do you have any references I could contact?
d. How much do you charge? Approximately, how many hours will you need for my case? Are there additional costs such as court fees, travel expenses or expert witness fees?. Ask for a written fee agreement that details the scope of work, any additional costs and the terms of payment.
These are just a few of the questions you could ask a prospect. Write out your questions beforehand so you don't waste any time of your free consultation. Do your due diligence!
5. Sign the contract
Make sure you get all the details for services and costs before signing an agreement. Attorneys will have you sign forms but you need to read the fine print. Make sure all the provisions you discussed are on paper. You need to double check the legal fees and understand how they will increase depending upon your case's degree of complexity. Before you sign, make sure you are able to take care of your financial obligations for services according to the terms of the agreement. You do not want a stalled case due to your inability to pay midstream.
Take your time
In adjudicating cases, lawyers are an invaluable part of the process. Their expertise and experience can mean the difference between your case's success or failure. Therefore, it is worth every effort to get the one that is right for you and your case. Conduct careful research, consider your specific needs, check credentials, conduct interviews and understand the application of fees. Taking these five steps can help you make an informed decision and choose an attorney who can effectively advocate for your legal needs.