Most people have regular doctors or dentists but typically don’t have a regular attorney. Small businesses will have a regular accountant but usually don’t have a lawyer. However, you’ll undoubtedly have occasions when you need one.
As with hiring any professional, you’ll want to research your options. With more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, your options may be overwhelming.
Here are some tips for finding the best attorney for your needs.
Area of Specialization
Attorneys often specialize, so consider your needs. Do you need an attorney for a short-term issue such as a will or business incorporation? Or do you want to keep an attorney on retainer over the long term to consult on various matters?
If you expect to need an attorney over the long term, you may want a general practice attorney or firm that can handle a broad range of issues. However, if you need them for a specific task, such as preparing a will, you’ll want to narrow your search to estate planning specialists.
You’ll want an attorney with experience in handling cases that are similar to your own. You can learn about a specific attorney’s experience by asking them or checking the firm’s website. Look for specific experiences. A lawyer with three years of experience handling cases like yours may be a better choice than someone with 20 years of experience but who has never dealt with a similar case.
You’ll trust your lawyer with confidential information and count on them to provide the proper guidance. An excellent reputation is critical. Ask trusted friends and associates to recommend attorneys and look at reviews online before deciding. Or, use a referral service that matches your needs with qualified attorneys. Also, check with your local bar association to see whether the attorney has faced disciplinary action or received notable complaints.
The best firm size depends upon your needs. A large firm will have lawyers with different specialties and many resources. However, their fees may be more costly than lawyers in smaller firms. If you have a broad range of legal needs or your case requires a team, a large firm may benefit you. However, if your needs are specific and straightforward, you may be better off with a small specialty firm.
Laws vary by state, so choosing a lawyer with offices in your state is essential. If your needs are relatively straightforward, you may be able to deal with your attorney by phone or email. However, you’ll want to meet with your attorney in person if you have more significant or complicated issues. Choose one with a conveniently located office.
Cost and Fees
While cost shouldn’t be the primary factor in choosing an attorney, it is important. Most attorneys bill by the hour, although some will offer a set fee for certain services, such as a simple will. Ask prospective attorneys how they charge. If they charge by the hour, ask for an estimate of the number of hours your case might require. Also, ask about extra charges such as copying, postage, and travel charges. Once you choose an attorney, ensure that your written contract delineates all the costs.
Professional Style and Fit
You want an attorney that will work well with you. Attorneys have different styles and communicate in different ways. You want an attorney whose style and approach match your own. You also want an attorney who communicates with you regularly during the process without you having to call for information. The best attorneys will communicate with you in plain language, not legalese, and explain your options carefully and succinctly.
You want to be able to reach your attorney when you need them. You also want them to have enough time to handle your needs. Consider another option if an attorney seems overworked or can’t work on your case immediately.
About Gary: Gary Kompothecras owns 1-800-ASK-GARY. He specializes in connecting people with doctors and attorneys following auto accidents in Minnesota, Florida, and New Mexico.
Written by Dr. Gary Kompothecras.
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