If you’ve never hired an attorney before, keep this in mind: it’s a process. There are a lot of attorneys out there, all with varied backgrounds and case histories. And while no attorney can promise you a guaranteed win in court, there will be some that you’ll mesh better with, who you’ll naturally work better with, and those who you’ll naturally be inclined to choose. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go looking to hire an attorney.
Play the Field
It can’t be understated that, just like shopping for a car or a home, you have to shop around for an attorney that’s going to be the best fit for you. If you’ve worked with another attorney in the past that specializes in a different area, ask for a referral. Then do some of your own research. There’s plenty of information available online. Call and set up initial meetings. You can discuss your case with them, and get a feel for how well you click.
Once you sit down with an attorney, ask about his or her history. Ask if they have any experience with cases similar to yours, how they were settled, and when they last handled a case like yours. Attorneys specialize, so even if a lawyer has been at the firm for a longer time than another across town, he or she still may not have the experience the other has. The majority of cases are actually settled out of court, so ask how many cases an attorney has had to argue in front of a court. This shouldn’t be a long meeting—you’ll know pretty quickly whether or not you’re comfortable with this attorney.
Be plain when you ask about fees. A good attorney will be able to explain the fee structure to you. Just because a lawyer charges the most, it doesn’t mean he or she is the best. He or she should be able to tell you what you’re actually going to be charged for, specifically. Find one that works within your budget who also has a good history handling cases like yours.
Trust Your Gut
Ultimately, after you meet with a number of attorneys, there will be one that will stick out most to you as someone you’re going to be comfortable working with, someone you trust, someone who helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and someone whose fees are within your budget. Don’t overthink it—trust your gut.
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