Finding a good attorney to represent you in the court of law is similar to finding any other professional—the only difference is that here, massive amounts of money or your reputation may be at stake. Seeking the best lawyer for your case requires thorough research, as you can’t take chances with hiring an inexperienced or incompetent attorney to fight your civil lawsuit.
If you’re in need of a civil attorney, here are five tips that will help you choose the best among your options.
Seek recommendations, but also look online
Most people, when they’re looking for a competent civil litigation lawyer, turn to friends, family and colleagues for recommendations, which is a great way to find a professional whose services have been used by someone you know.
The goal, however, is to find the best lawyer you can afford, and it helps to have a few good candidates to interview and compare. Therefore, it makes sense to also explore other sources where you can find the best lawyers for your type of legal matter, such as online lawyer directories, Google search for local law firms, referrals from your business contacts, a credible lawyer referral service, and local support groups that may have a good specialist attorney on board.
Learn about the lawyer’s background
Hiring a civil litigation lawyer is a big decision that should be taken with due diligence. Once you have a worthy shortlist, it’s time to learn more about each lawyer or law firm to weed out the ones that don’t qualify on your parameters of an excellent specialist lawyer who can help maximize your chances of winning the lawsuit.
Work through your list by learning more about each candidate’s professional experience, licensing, background, experience in the practice area of your need (personal injury law, criminal justice, family law, employment law, business law, real estate law, etc.). For instance, if you have a real estate business dispute, you want an attorney with experience in real estate as well as business law.
You should be represented by a civil litigation attorney who has the know-how and experience defending your specific type of legal problems. Even with a highly recommended attorney, don’t base your decision on good word alone. Read peer review ratings, crosscheck references, and find out more about the lawyer’s ethical standards and legal expertise.
Ask the necessary questions
Because you’ll be paying for their services, you have the full right to interview an attorney as you would any other professional before hiring them.
Most civil lawyers offer a free first consultation, which is a great opportunity for you to assess if they’re competent enough to represent you. Prepare a list of crisp questions that will help you learn more about the attorney. Are they experienced in handling your specific type of lawsuits? How long have they been practicing? What are their fees and will there be any additional charges? What is their success rate with your type of cases? What level of support can you expect from them during the course of the lawsuit? Asking the right questions will not only give you an insight into the lawyer’s expertise, it will also help you determine if they’re confident of their abilities.
Learn more about fee structures
Affordability is one of the key factors in the selection of an attorney, but specialist lawyers with a successful track record do tend to bill higher rates than others. Avoid hiring the cheapest lawyer that comes your way unless you’re sure they’re capable to take on your lawsuit.
Your civil lawyer may bill you a flat fee, a contingency fee or an hourly fee. Learn more about each of these terms to know how each type of billing works. Look for pro bono or low bono legal services if you can’t afford legal fees.
Visit the attorney’s office
Even when you’ve found a lawyer who seems like a good fit for your case, take the time to visit their office premises. A quick tour will tell you a lot about how the law firm operates.
Indeed, orderliness and clean surroundings are not the best indicators of a lawyer’s core expertise—some of the best lawyers are known to be eccentric and unique in the way they conduct themselves—but a well-run law office with happy employees and a business-like environment is a sign of efficiency and professionalism.
Even if you’re not a judgmental individual, you probably won’t walk out impressed from an unusually empty or disorganized office with unhelpful or disinterested staff.