Finding the right attorney for your situation is easier if you consider their specialty, availability, rates, and communication style.
There are many times in your life where you will need an attorney. These may be good times, such as buying a new home, or bad times, such as after an accident or injury. Regardless of the situation that drives you to hire an attorney, the one you ultimately choose to represent your interests can make a big difference in its outcome. That’s right, even if you have a lawyer that handles your real estate transactions, you may be best served to find a different one for other matters. Use these five tips to select the right attorney for each unique life situation you may face.
1. Research Their Specialty
In most cases, you don’t want to go with an attorney that is a Jack of all trades. Instead, look for one that specializes in the area you are working in. For example, a real estate attorney is great if you want to know how to get out of a timeshare, but you probably don’t want them representing you in a criminal case.
2. Schedule a Consultation
Don’t just pick a name from a list of web search results. Instead, contact each office and schedule a consultation. Take the time to sit down — either in person or virtually — with the attorney or their representative. Ask questions about their experience, results from previous cases, and their opinion on your case. It is important to use this time to get a feeling for their working style and personality. Gauge how you feel talking to them. Are you comfortable or tense? Do you feel like they are listening to you, or do you feel like your opinions are being dismissed? Avoid working with anyone with whom you will clash repeatedly since it will make the entire process more complicated and painful.
3. Ask About Their Rates
Lawyer fees can get expensive in a hurry, so you want to ask about rates upfront. Educate yourself about some of the most common ways that attorneys bill for their services so you can compare apples to apples. Keep in mind that an experienced attorney with higher hourly rates may actually end up costing you less in the long run since they are well-versed in the subject matter. Be realistic — to yourself and the attorney — about your budget. It is perfectly acceptable to ask the office about payment plans. Depending on the type of case, you may not have to pay anything out of pocket. In some situations, the attorney fees are paid out of awards, and then only if you win the case.
4. Talk to Friends and Family Members
Sometimes, it is helpful to talk with people you know about what attorneys they use. Many people have a family attorney, who could be a great resource for real estate transactions, estate planning, and other similar civil matters. So, if you go this route, be sure to ask about lawyers from similar situations. After all, you may not want to use your sister’s divorce lawyer if you are facing criminal charges. You should always remember how important it is to hire a professional who specializes in your type of case.
5. Check Their Availability and Communication Preferences
Ask about office hours to see if you will be able to work around your schedule. Think about whether you can take time off of work, or if you will need to meet outside of traditional business hours. This can be a major factor in choosing the right office to represent you. After all, it doesn’t really matter how comfortable you feel talking with an attorney if you can never get in touch with them. It can also be helpful to consider how the office communicates with clients. A few questions to ask include:
- Do they return calls promptly, or are you constantly checking in about a response?
- Can you text or email staff to make getting in touch easier?
- Who will you be speaking with most frequently: the attorney, an associate, or another staff member?
Finding the right attorney for your situation is easier if you consider their specialty, availability, rates, and communication style. Recommendations from friends and family members can also be helpful.