How to Choose the Right Lawyer
Proper legal council can save you time, trouble, and money by preventing legal problems before they arise.
Peter Marchel has hired, managed, fired, and worked with over 300 attorneys in North America and in England over 20 years. A licensed attorney who’s now a risk consultant, Peter is qualified to help clients chose counsel and to get counsel approved by insurance companies to represent his clients.
How Do I Find A Lawyer?
Gather several names
Ask family, friends, and businesspeople you know. Other sources for names: the State Bar Association, other lawyers, and business journals. Search on the web for the legal topic or service you are seeking and your jurisdiction. Many lawyers and law firms will have blogs, newsletters or other helpful information on their website.
Do follow-up research
With the names you have, check out individual websites and LinkedIn profiles. Look for experience in the area that you are seeking representation, papers published, presentations given, clients served. State Bar Associations maintain a list of lawyers licensed to practice in their jurisdiction, and disciplinary matters are also posted. You may also be able to see if the lawyers has had any formal complaints filed against them and whether or not the lawyer carries malpractice insurance (depends on the state).
Interview the specific lawyer that will be doing your work. I interview several lawyers or law firms before I hire them for a particular matter. I recommend you do the same. Most lawyers will provide a free consultation; ask for one. If possible meet in person when you interview. Some questions to ask the lawyers:
- What is the depth and breadth of experience of the lawyer handling the sort of case that you are seeking advice on?
- Who is their typical client?
- How many cases have they represented that were similar to mine?
- How many matters like this case have they worked on?
- How long has the attorney been in practice?
- Who will let me know what’s happening in my case?
- Can the lawyer provide references? (Ask for clients as well as other attorneys).
- Memberships in professional organizations (in the area you are seeking advice on)?
- Articles published, presentations given?
- How do they bill? Hourly or flat fee? If hourly, what type of increments?
- How are other charges incurred: copy costs, research, expert’s costs, travel?
- Who will work on your case? How will your case be staffed – Partner, Junior Partner, Senior Associate, Associate, Junior Associate, paralegal? Who will determine their involvement?
- Based on the description of the case, what is the range of possible outcomes for this case? Can the lawyer include time and costs estimates?
- Is this lawyer familiar with my industry or business?
- Ask yourself: are there any red flags that cause me to hesitate to work with this attorney?
- If the lawyer cannot handle your case, will they provide references to another lawyer?
Building a successful client – lawyer team.
- Be sure you have the same goals.
- Be confident you’ll get along.
- Do you trust them?
- Be comfortable with or understand the lawyer’s working style.
- Understand and agree with lawyers billing practices (you should have this in writing).
- Understand the timetable for your matter or what can affect your timetable.
- Cooperate and provide your lawyer with the documents necessary to understand your case.
- Does lawyer respond to calls or e-mail?