Most of us hope that we can make it through life without needing a lawyer. However, the time might come when you need a lawyer.
Whether you are going through a divorce, need some business law advice, or you need some other help, a good lawyer can be worth every cent you pay. But you need to be discerning as you choose a lawyer to handle your legal issues.
Looking for Lawyer Suggestions
The first thing you need to do is to get suggestions for lawyers in your area. Ask your friends and family members about their experiences, and who they would recommend. You can also ask a lawyer. If you have a lawyer, but she or he does not specialize in your specific area of need, get a referral. You can also get help by checking with your state bar association, or by looking at legal specialty groups and independent referral web sites. You can also get some good leads on lawyers in your area by checking the web sites of professional associations of different specialty lawyers.
Once you have some good candidates, call and arrange a meeting. Ask if the initial meeting is free. Many lawyers will offer an initial consult free of charge, to see if you might be a good fit for each other. It's a good idea to meet a potential lawyer face to face so you have the chance to size him or her up, and form an impression.
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Questions to Ask During Your Meeting
Go to your meeting prepared. You want to get an idea of the process, and make sure you are getting the lawyer you want. You should pay attention to indications that your lawyer is organized and competent, as well as able to explain things free of jargon. Also, make sure you ask questions related to:
- Payment: Find out how the lawyer charges. Some options are hourly, flat fee, and contingency. Determine what additional expenses you might be billed for, and whether you will be required to pay up front. Also, find out what happens to advance payments if you quit using the lawyer before the matter is resolved. Ask how often you will be billed, and how you can keep track of mounting legal bills. Find out if there are regular statements of work performed and billed amounts.
- Track record: Get an idea of her or his track record. Find out whether the attorney specializes in cases like yours, and the outcome of many of the cases. There might be some specific credentials that are required for certain cases.
- Communication: Make sure you understand who your point of contact will be. In some cases, a lot of the details of your case may be handled by another partner in the firm, or by a paralegal. Know who you will need to contact, and what mode of communication will be used: email, phone or in-person meetings. Also, you should find out how often you can expect to be updated about the case, and whether you will receive copies of documents related to the issue.
Sometimes, online legal resources just won't cut it. In such cases, you may have to choose a lawyer. Make sure you approach the decision with care, and that you find out as much as you can before committing your case into his or her hands.