The legal system can be intimidating, and anyone who is contemplating filing a lawsuit should think long and hard about finding the right attorney to guide them through the process. Selecting a lawyer can be even more stressful when you didn’t file the lawsuit and you’re the person being sued. Selecting an attorney is a very personal choice that can make a huge difference in how a case turns out. Perhaps the most important thing to understand in selecting a lawyer is that you shouldn’t spend your time and energy looking for the best lawyer… you should spend your time and energy looking for the best lawyer for YOU. With that in mind, here are five tips that can help you find the right lawyer to help you in your case.
- Do your Homework:
It is important to understand that lawyers specialize in a variety of areas of law. You probably wouldn’t go to a dermatologist for brain surgery, and law is the same. Do some detailed research on lawyers in your area who specialize in your issue. It is also important to understand that lawyers specialize in very specific areas. Are you a father dealing with a custody issue? There are lawyers who specialize in representing dads in custody cases. Were you injured in a car accident? Make sure you are speaking to lawyers who specialize in representing personal injury victims and not defendants. The more you can find a lawyer familiar with the types of details in your case, the more likely they will be a good fit for your case.
- Ask for Referrals
Being involved in any type of legal action is a stressful and impactful time in your life. Now is the time to lean on the support system around you for guidance. If you have people in your life that you are comfortable confiding in with your particular legal issue, now is the time to ask for their input. Our office gets many referrals from counselors, therapists, psychologists, clergy, judges and other attorneys. Family and friends may also have ideas on where to start your attorney search. Those who know you best can be a valuable resource.
- Know your Priorities
What you want out of your case can be a vital factor in what lawyer is right for you. Our office specializes in family law; we see varied priorities even in divorce cases. Is it most important to you that you keep as much of your 401(k) as possible? Look for a lawyer who understands that need. Is it most important that you get as much custody time with your children as possible? Look for a lawyer who specializes in child custody cases. Do what you can to make sure the lawyer you choose fully appreciates what is most important to you and has the tools to help.
- Know your Adversary
When choosing a lawyer, you want to keep in mind that law is an adversarial process, and that means you have an “opponent” on the other side of your case. You want to find a lawyer who is prepared to get you your best outcome out of that adversary. Is your opponent someone you might be able to work with reasonably to save time and money? Look for a lawyer who is open to creative settlements in cases, or better yet, look for a mediator to assist with your case. Is your adversary someone who will fight for every inch of your case? In that case, look for an attorney who is experienced as a litigator, who can guide you through a long and stressful trial process. Does your adversary have far more money than you that they are able to invest in the case? Keep that in mind as you look for a lawyer and find an attorney that will use your limited resources in the best way possible.
- Interview Lawyers
Remember that you are the client and any lawyer that you hire works for you. As you schedule initial consultations with potential attorneys, try to be as organized as possible with your time. Remember that you need to accomplish two very important and very different goals. First, you want to get legal information and advice that can help you as you prepare for your case. Second, and just as important, you are interviewing the lawyers to see if you want to hire them. Make sure to ask them what their strategy would be in your case. How have they handled cases like yours in the past? How do they approach settlement negotiations? How do they approach trial and trial preparation? Getting a sense of how they will approach your particular issues can be vital in choosing the right attorney. Remember that you are interviewing the lawyer. Try detaching yourself personally from your case for a moment and try to act like a business owner interviewing a job applicant for an important position with your company. Would you trust this lawyer to manage your business? If you are “on the fence”, then they are likely not the best lawyer for your case.
Hiring a lawyer is not an easy job. Your legal fees can be an expensive part of your budget while your case is pending. With the tips above you can find the attorney who is right for you, your case and your life. Contact our office at (314) 862-0202 for more information about our legal and mediation services!