The process can seem overwhelming if you’ve never hired a lawyer. That’s why we’ve compiled everything you need to ensure you choose the best attorney for your case. Use our checklists, tips, and examples to ensure you leave no stone unturned–and feel confident about your final decision.
Before you start searching for help, you may wonder how to decide if you need an attorney. Lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming, so you’ll want to guarantee your efforts yield the best possible results. Suppose you are the victim of personal injury or medical malpractice. In that case, a lawyer can help you determine whether your case is likely to succeed.
Finding the right lawyer can be pivotal in determining the outcome of your case. They should have expertise in the right area of law, excellent communication skills, and dedication to successfully resolving your case.
Follow these steps to find the best attorney for your circumstances.
You may need help figuring out where to start when searching for a personal injury lawyer. A good rule of thumb is to ask friends and family for recommendations. You can also search online for attorneys in your area and read reviews their previous clients have left. Local bar associations also provide recommendations. Whether you’re reading reviews or talking to someone you trust, here are a few questions to keep in mind:
Once you have narrowed down your best options, contact their offices. Someone at the office will typically ask you brief questions about your case. They may use this information to determine whether they may be a good fit for your case and, if so, which attorney (if they are part of a group) you should work with.
Tip: If the attorney you contact is not a good fit for your case or is unavailable, you can ask them to recommend another lawyer in your area. Most attorneys have working relationships with other lawyers. They may recommend someone else who can help.
However, if the attorney believes they may be a good fit for your case, they will likely set up an initial consultation.
When you contact a law firm for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask questions:
Many personal injury attorneys, including WKW, offer a free initial consultation. During this consultation, they will discuss your case with you and briefly review any documentation you bring.
When you make your appointment for a consultation, the law firm may give you a specific list of items to bring. You will want to bring any key documents and information that will help your attorney understand your case. This may include the following:
When you meet your attorney for the first time, it’s helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask a lawyer ahead of time. These are some of the most common questions people ask during the initial consultation:
Give yourself time before your appointment to review your case, and write down any other questions or concerns you’d like to discuss.
Once you’ve chosen your attorney, the next step is to formalize the arrangement with a contract. This contract is called a retainer agreement. It outlines the terms and conditions of your representation. A retainer agreement may include:
When you review your contract with your attorney, make sure you understand what you are signing. Ensure that your contract accurately reflects the terms you previously discussed. Ask your attorney to explain any parts of the contract you don’t understand.
The total cost to hire a lawyer will depend on several factors. The complexity of your case, the amount of time it takes, and even your location can determine your total cost. Fortunately, if you are pursuing a personal injury case, your attorney will typically charge on a contingency basis. This arrangement means you are only required to pay your attorney after you win your case.
You will usually receive a free consultation when you meet with your attorney for the first time. After that meeting, you can determine whether you want to hire the attorney. If the attorney agrees to charge on a contingency basis, you will only be required to pay something once you win your case. At that time, you will pay the lawyer a percentage of the damages the court awards you. You will not have to pay anything if you do not win your case.
Consider Sarah, a hypothetical client involved in a severe car accident. She wants to recover damages from the driver responsible for her accident. So, she researches reputable attorneys in her area and schedules a free consultation. Sarah hires the lawyer on a contingency fee basis, in this case 33%. She only needs to pay the lawyer any money once her case is resolved.
The attorney diligently pursues Sarah’s case, resulting in a settlement of $100,000. Because she won, Sarah will now pay the attorney 33% of her settlement, which amounts to $33,000.
The contingency fee structure benefits are clearly demonstrated in this arrangement. Sarah was able to secure $67,000 for her damages without worrying about upfront legal expenses. This structure ensures a fair outcome while compensating her attorney for their litigation expertise and efforts.
Your attorney can proceed with your case now that you’ve signed your contract. Since every case is different, it’s a good idea to ask your attorney what the next steps are. Usually, at this stage, your attorney will begin to gather and review evidence in greater depth. Be sure to stay in contact with your attorney so you know what the next step is. They may need you to supply them with additional information or documentation.
Simplify the process of hiring an attorney and feel confident you’re hiring the right person for the job with our final checklist:
If someone else’s negligence has injured you or a loved one, contact the attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you need to restore your life. Fill out our online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.