So you’re looking to hire a lawyer! Well then, here’s a spoiler alert: Prepare to be overwhelmed by an overflowing pool of legal talent to make your pick.
The United States, with a mere 5% of the global population, is home to 70% of its lawyers. And with such remarkable figures, it’s hardly surprising that the United States boasts an impressive attorney-to-citizen ratio of one lawyer for every 200 individuals. Those are pretty good stats! But one of the downsides to this is that getting the right and perfect attorney for your legal requirements is like finding a needle in a haystack. You need an experienced attorney who can present a solid case in court on your behalf.
For this, strategy is very important, and sometimes a lawyer who creates a great strategy for a weak case is the perfect attorney for your legal needs and much preferable to an attorney who loses a strong case due to a lack of plan & strategy. Without a strong attorney with a great plan to tackle your case with, you may lose the legal battle, which may yield negative consequences.
So, what is your strategy for finding your lawyer? Very often, the perfect lawyer is gotten through referrals or word-of-mouth. Your next best hire only comes when you apply the strategies we’ve spelled out for you in this post. Want to find out how to get the best lawyer for legal help? Read on to get the full scoop.
Finding a Qualified Attorney: Essential Tips
There are several reasons why someone might need a lawyer. It can be challenging to determine the perfect attorney to provide the best help and win your case when you are already in a difficult situation.
Most of the time, people fail even to ask the basic questions that can help determine which attorney is a better option. The best way to avoid getting stuck in the web of legal complexities is to train yourself to identify the perfect attorney to hire. The below-mentioned tips can help you with hiring a perfect lawyer.
Understand your problem and choose a specialist
To avoid putting square pegs in round holes, take a moment to identify the exact problem you’re facing. Knowing the issue at hand allows you to filter lawyers and funnel them down to only those who can help you. It’s a crucial tip to follow, as handling different laws requires specific specialties and subspecialties. Also, before you start dialing multiple phone numbers of different lawyers, you’re better off making sure you’ve shortlisted a candidate pool containing the perfect attorney for your brief.
Having strong arguments in your defense is only possible with the help of an expert attorney. And so the right and perfect attorney for your brief is, ideally, a specialist with all the knowledge of the latest legal nuances and amendments relating to your subject matter.
In choosing your specialist, you might need a lawyer in any of the following legal specialties:
Criminal law: Cases related to crimes committed against individuals or society, with attorneys representing either the prosecution or defense. Your criminal lawyer, in this case, must display an understanding of criminal statutes, courtroom procedures, and the criminal justice system.
Corporate law: Legal matters related to corporations, company formation, governance, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and compliance. Your corporate attorney should be able to demonstrate a strong knowledge of business law, contract negotiation, and corporate regulations.
Family law: As the name implies, it relates to legal issues relating to families, such as divorce, child custody, adoption, spousal support, and domestic violence. Your family lawyer must have knowledge of family court procedures, family-related statutes, and negotiation skills.
Intellectual property law: This has to do with protecting intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Intellectual property law, process filing, and infringement litigation are highly relevant skills your chosen attorney should demonstrate.
Personal injury law: Have you been injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of another? A personal injury lawyer will help bring your compensation claims, applying their deep knowledge of the laws guiding torts, insurance laws, and negotiation skills in the likely event of out-of-court settlement agreements.
Real estate law: If your requirement touches on a property, for instance, buying/selling, leasing, zoning, land use, and property development, you need a real estate lawyer. They should have experience navigating real estate transactions, contracts, property law, and local regulations.
Employment law: Legal issues arising in or from the workplace — including employment contracts, discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, wage disputes, and labor law compliance. An employment lawyer must be familiar with employment regulations and labor laws and have litigation experience.
Immigration law: Having trouble with the immigration department? Matters relating to visas, citizenship, asylum, deportation defense, and immigration policy fall under this class and should be handled by an immigration lawyer. They must be familiar with immigration laws, and procedures and have experience navigating immigration agencies.
Environmental law: This covers legal issues related to environmental protection, conservation, and regulation, including pollution, land use, natural resource management, and sustainability. An environmental lawyer should know their environmental laws, regulations and have the necessary litigation experience.
Tax law: Deals with matters related to taxation, including tax planning, compliance, disputes, and representing clients before tax authorities. A tax lawyer is sound in tax codes, regulations, and accounting principles and has experience with tax litigation.
Given that out of almost one (1) million lawyers in the US, less than 50,000 are adequately skilled in real expertise in small business law to offer any real help to a budding entrepreneur, you should hire a specialist with a great depth of know-how in your subject matter. Specialists are far up the learning curve, and when you hire them, you take advantage of their years of experience and expertise, giving you more value for money. Plus, this marginal advantage of a specialist lawyer in having a better grasp of your legal situation than a generalist lawyer can tip the scales in your favor.
Double-check attorney’s relevant experience
As we’ve hinted earlier, one quick way to know if an attorney is a perfect attorney for your legal needs is if they have the relevant experience and/or track record of handling your legal matter. A few factors that define a lawyer’s experience are the length of service, their region, the number of specialized cases they have handled, and prior results.
If your lawyer has won cases for clients with the same problem as yours, you can be sure of getting the best legal representation. Other crucial factors include knowledge of the adversaries and personalities related to the case, cumulative wisdom, and perspective to evaluate risks and skills to develop winning strategies for a particular problem.
As you’d expect of a lawyer billed to be the perfect attorney for your case, their confidence to help you through the complexities of the legal process is another thing to consider. Pro tip: A law firm’s website will give you some insight into the firm’s track record, the values of their lawyers, their area of expertise, and how long they’ve been practicing. In the best case, your lawyer’s website will inspire enough confidence that they’re the perfect attorney for your brief, after which you may engage their services.
Check whether an attorney is a good communicator
The perfect lawyer is an astute communicator, especially as a lawyer’s ability to communicate with their clients defines their expertise in handling cases. They must be well trained to communicate not only with you but also with their adversaries and those sitting in the judgment of their cases.
You don’t have to call the lawyer over and over again to get updates on your case. The perfect lawyer to work with is a proactive professional who anticipates your questions and keeps you updated as your case advances. A judiciary may ask you to take a certain decision or act during the proceedings. The perfect attorney should explain all the options available to you at that time. Additionally, they must explain the positives and negatives of each course of action. So, if you hire an attorney, they should be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
Choose an attorney with high levels of professionalism
When considering whether a lawyer is the perfect attorney for your legal needs, remember that a lawyer’s suitability is not solely determined by their personality.
It also depends on other things — including a sense of professionalism that differentiates the perfect lawyer from the pack. Here are some professional traits that are a true mark of a professional attorney:
- Protects your interests zealously;
- Arrives at meetings on time and well-prepared;
- Responds promptly to your telephone calls and emails;
- Maintains a neat appearance and projects a successful image;
- Provides prompt and appropriate follow-up as required by the case;
- Pieces of advice on alternative dispute resolution;
- Respects everyone regardless of their role, status, or position;
- Behaves appropriately in all situations;
- Follows all applicable laws and ethical canons; and
- Doesn’t do anything that might expose impropriety.
Decide whether to hire a local or a national attorney
There’s no one size fits all method to finding the right and perfect attorney for your case. Though, there’re a few key points to take stock of. Typically, your first stop should be the nature and complexity of your legal issue.
Local experts usually handle matters such as real estate or workers’ compensation, as they are familiar with the laws and procedures of the region, and they are better acquainted with the judicial and administrative authorities in the area.
But when it comes to wage and hour disputes, labor law, and other complex issues involving federal laws, national specialists are the perfect attorney for your case.
Take references from previous clients
Recall what we said about referrals being your best hiring method. While you can use the tips in this post to narrow down your search for the perfect attorney, finding one remains a challenge.
Credibility is where word-of-mouth referrals take the cake. When you contact the attorney’s previous clients about older cases and what working with them was like, you get a front-row seat to their process without necessarily hiring them first. This way, you know whether the attorney is who they say they are. Plus, if they’re a good fit.
If you’re thinking, “What if the attorney cherry-picks only their best references and reviews?” you’re asking the right questions.
Surely, there must be other sources. Investigate further and assess the attorney’s profile on platforms like Better Business Bureau (BBB), Facebook, Google reviews, and Yelp to see if this is an attorney you’re willing to take a chance with.
Are you afraid to return to your own country? Are you considering filing for asylum in the United States? If yes, use this comprehensi...
You can also visit review sites like Avvo, Google (Google My Business profile), Findlaw, Lawyers.com to see what current and past clientele are saying about them.
How Should You Start to Look for a Perfect Attorney?
So, if you are on the way to hire a lawyer, there are several steps to take.
1. Contact your local bar association for qualified attorneys in your area
Local bar associations give perhaps the most credible source of information you’ll ever get about a lawyer. After all, they hold all their public records, documenting complaints & disciplinary actions taken against all licensed attorneys in the state.
Thankfully, they can fast-track your search with free referrals. These lawyers come highly recommended since — let’s face it — the referral is straight from the local regulatory body itself. This way, you already know that your attorney is competent and professional. At this point, you only need to find out if they’re a good fit. Where to find your LBA? Simply jump on the American Bar Association’s “State & Local Bar Associations” page and select your state from the provided list. After landing on the relevant bar association’s website, you can get further information and assistance in finding the perfect attorney.
2. Review online listings of attorneys
Numerous online platforms provide complimentary business reviews, and when it comes to finding the perfect attorney, there’re several websites to consider. These include LegalZoom, Rocketlawyer, LawTrades, and Avvo.com, where you can explore feedback and evaluations from their clientele.
You also want to consider looking into specialized legal directories. For example, websites like LawHelp.org are dedicated to assisting individuals with limited financial resources in finding lawyers.
Other directories focus on specific practice areas or specialties. For instance, you can take your search for an intellectual property lawyer to directories like the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) or the International Trademark Association (INTA)
In the final analysis, from a balanced perspective, you want to cross-reference reviews from multiple websites. This will help you counteract any potential biases to gain a more comprehensive understanding of an attorney’s reputation and the quality of their services.
3. Make a list of the potential attorneys you have found in your area
At this stage, you want to take a close look at all the information you’ve gathered about your prospective lawyer, including online reviews, recommendations, credentials, and expertise.
Based on this evaluation, you then want to narrow down your list to a set number of lawyers who, at first glance, look like they’re going to be a good fit for your legal needs. Since your ‘perfect attorney’ will likely emerge from this list, make sure to include their contact details, including their name, address, phone number, and website address.
4. Review each attorney’s website
In your quest for the perfect attorney, it’s crucial to gather relevant information about their practice areas and backgrounds.
First off, look for details on their areas of practice focus to determine if they are well-suited to your case. You then want to seek background information about the attorney, such as their law school education and areas of specialization.
The online presence of your attorney can be a way for them to communicate their values and approach to handling legal issues while showcasing their professionalism. As such, most lawyers maintain well-developed websites that provide comprehensive information.
In these websites, you may browse for sections like frequently asked questions (FAQs) or blogs that address topics relevant to your legal issue. A robust online presence demonstrates a commitment to informing and assisting clients, which is always an encouraging sign.
In the case of hiring a law firm, you also want to examine the profiles of each individual attorney within the firm on their website. Pay attention to their educational background and work history, which can provide insights into their qualifications and experience.
Ideally, choose an attorney with a minimum of three to five years of experience practicing the specific type of law you require assistance with. Experience instills confidence and enhances their ability to handle your case proficiently.
Verify that the attorney is currently practicing in the particular legal area relevant to your needs. This ensures they are up to date with the latest laws, regulations, and practices related to your case.
Lastly, many attorneys maintain a presence on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Dig into their profiles to assess their persona or likely personality type to see how compatible you both will be when working together.
Final Written Address (pun intended!)
Now that we’ve shared all you need to put you on the fast track to finding the right and perfect attorney for your case, we should also point out that working with your lawyer is a collaborative exercise — not a baton-handoff.
Ensure to support your attorney with all the facts of your case (the good, the bad, and the ugly!), requested documentation, and don’t skip your court hearings.
You also should consider firing your lawyer if they put up a no-show in your court hearings, miss important filings, refuse to give the necessary updates on your case as and when due, is dodgy with communication, or is dishonest with you.
Well close out with the golden rule of hiring an attorney: if someone is the perfect attorney for your legal requirements, then they specialize in cases like yours.
Take the time to consider the various aspects of your case, seek advice from an experienced attorney, and then execute an engagement letter or a retainer for the services of a lawyer who meets your needs.