How do you choose the best lawyer for your needs? Choosing legal services is like choosing any other product or service: the wise consumer conducts thorough research before making an informed decision. Once you secure several lawyer referrals with expertise in the appropriate practice area, you should carefully research each candidate (for tips on how to find a good lawyer, see How to Find a Lawyer). Below are five steps to choosing the best lawyer for your legal needs.
Conduct Candidate Interviews
One of the best ways to assess a lawyer’s legal ability is by interviewing them. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation (usually an hour or less) at no charge. Below are a few questions to consider:
What experience does the lawyer have in your type of legal matter?
How long have they been in practice?
What is their track record of success?
What percentage of their caseload is dedicated to handling your type of legal problem?
Do they have any special skills or certifications?
What are their fees and how are they structured?
Do they carry malpractice insurance? If so, how much?
Who else would be working on your case and what are their rates?
Do they outsource any key legal tasks for functions?
What additional costs may be involved in addition to lawyer fees (postage, filing fees, copy fees, etc.)?
How often will you be billed?
Can they provide references from other clients?
Do they have a written fee agreement or representation agreement?
How will they inform you of developments in your case?
Keep in mind that a higher fee does not necessarily equate with a more qualified attorney. Consequently, a rock bottom fee may signal problems, inexperience, or incompetence.
After meeting with the lawyer, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Are the lawyer’s exp
erience and background compatible with your legal needs?
Did they provide prompt and courteous responses to your questions?
Are they someone with whom you would be comfortable working with?
Are you confident they possess the skills and experience to handle your case?
Are you comfortable with the fees and how they are structured?
Are you comfortable with the terms of the fee agreement and/or representation agreement?
Consult Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
ound online at Martindale.com and at your local public and law libraries, Martindale-Hubbell is a great resource for information about a law firm and its lawyers. This guide is often used by lawyers when choosing legal talent in another jurisdiction. The directory includes basic practice profile data on virtually every lawyer in the United States and Canada and detailed professional biographies of leading lawyers and firms in 160 countries. It also includes lawyer and law firm ratings based upon peer reviews, which may help when choosing between two equally qualified candidates.