Hiring an Attorney is obviously a big decision to make and it needs to be someone who is honest and trustworthy, but also someone with sufficient expertise and experience. Some individuals simply want an attorney who has been practicing for years; others desire someone who is aggressive; yet, other important factors to consider in determining whether or not to hire an attorney are ones related to one’s state’s Bar Association and Commission on Legal Practice. Both these organizations can be contacted online as well as any local bar associations in your locale. Once again, a lawyer who is enthusiastic about their practice and looks forward to hearing from you is an excellent choice.
The second factor to consider when hiring a lawyer is to determine whether you are comfortable with him or her and if it feels right. This is not an area to try to cut corners. You will need to understand the fees charged by your prospective attorney and whether or not they meet your budget guidelines for an hourly rate or retainer fee. Additionally, you will need to understand any potential non-refundable and exorbitant costs associated with the case. Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate that is less expensive than that of a bankruptcy attorney, but they may also ask for a retainer fee that can go significantly higher than an hourly rate.
Some attorneys do not charge for a retainer fee and instead, require a contingent fee. (These contingent fees can vary widely and are dictated by the nature of the case and the specific circumstances of the case.) Contingent fees can be significant and sometimes, a simple phone call to a contingency fee attorney can provide a tremendous amount of information on the costs of your potential case. An attorney will likely explain the type of costs associated with the particular case at hand, such as: attorneys’ fees; court costs; settlement costs; attorney work and travel time; and other miscellaneous costs. While these costs should not be the determining factor of hiring an attorney, it can certainly play a role in your final decision.
Many attorneys offer “pro bono” or free consultation, which allows clients to meet with them free of charge. This can be a great way to hire an attorney who does not charge a retainer fee, but may have other valuable skills that you may require. If you have legal questions that need to be communicated through a legal practitioner, such as drafting a legal document or presenting a legal argument, using a free consultation can allow you to connect with a professional with experience that suits your needs. It is important, however, that clients thoroughly vet any potential consultation counselor. Ask friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors what they think about the potential law firm or attorney before committing to meeting with them.
When hiring a lawyer, the initial step may be to talk with the bar association of your state to find out if the attorney has ever been involved in a lawsuit over a legal issue. You should also check the local phone book to find out if the attorney has made any significant mistakes in the past. Also, you can contact the bar association to find out if the attorney has ever passed the bar exam. The last thing you want to do is to retain an attorney who failed three times the test!
Once you have decided on a few lawyers who fit your needs, evaluate their experience level. How many cases have they handled? Have they won any of their previous cases? If you are hiring a new attorney, you probably want one who has a lot of experience handling complex cases, especially if you are attempting to represent a business or a person who has a reputation for doing extremely well in the courtroom. Attorneys who have little experience will not be able to properly represent your business.
Once you have narrowed your list of possible attorneys down to a few professionals, schedule an initial consultation. An initial consultation is really the only chance you have to get to know these professionals before making a decision. Most lawyers take this opportunity to evaluate your needs and determine whether or not they are a good fit for your case. This initial consultation is also a great time for the lawyer to get to know you, as well. Many lawyers offer free consultations to potential clients to help them better understand the services they will be providing to their client.
Once you have received the initial consultation, you can make the decision whether or not the attorney is right for you. Retainer is also an important step in hiring an attorney. Lawyers who do not require a retainer are less likely to take on a case that does not have an appealing outcome. If you do not hire a lawyer within a certain amount of time after you have retained them, you could risk losing money. Your best bet is to find an attorney to work on a retainer basis if you are serious about retaining them, and building a long-term professional relationship with this legal professional.