In the event of a legal matter, how can a person make certain that they get the best representation? Lawyers are a dime a dozen and when you comb through all the law firms and specializations, it may seem as though you are being offered the same assurances of passionate service: but beyond all the legal rigmarole, you may be looking for something extra – a distinction that makes you know right away that you’ve found the right person or firm to represent you.
The following are 3 lawyer selection tips to help you narrow down your search and land a qualified, effective lawyer based on the most critical factors.
1. What to ask during the interview
Most accredited legal firms offer a free initial consultation, which takes about an hour and gives you a good opportunity to ask specific questions and gauge by the responses whether or not the person is suited to represent you.
So what should I focus on when conducting an interview with my potential lawyer?
• First off, you want to know what level of experience they have in your particular case, and how much success they’ve had with former clients.
• The number of years that he or she has been in practicing doesn’t mean much if you can’t find evidence that they’ve won a similar case recently.
• Aside from the qualifications (e.g. passing the bar exam), what other skills or certifications does the lawyer present and how can the same be used to your advantage?
• Find out whether other lawyers in the firm will assist in your case – and if they do, ask about pricing.
• Agree on a fee structure (in writing), and confirm whether they have malpractice insurance or any other relevant coverage. Bear in mind a high fee does not guarantee premium services, and conversely, cheap services may indicate a lack of skill and/or experience.
2. Refer to a law directory
You can get a lot of information from your local law library and online (Martindale-Hubbell) about a firm or specific attorneys. This one resource has information on virtually every credible lawyer in North America including detailed professional biographies of renowned solicitors in over 100 countries.
Do you want to check peer ratings and reviews? You can also get that online from the largest legal directory in the country, as well as contact information which you can use when planning a trip to their offices.
3. Take a tour of their offices
You can learn a lot about individual law firms from checking reviews online but the surest way to come to a decision is to actually walk through their offices and see for yourself how they work, interact, and engage.
The scripted conference room interview may not be enough to get background information. Conduct a visual tour and use your judgment to determine whether every declaration made over the phone or on the firm’s website is valid or just a marketing gimmick. Do all the staff members appear receptive and passionate, or do they hide in their cubicles pretending to work and wince whenever a senior staff passes by?
You can pick up many of these cues within a few minutes of touring an office and that information will go a long way in landing you the perfect legal partner.