Lawyers deal with many personal, family, business and property matters and transactions. No one else has the training and experience to advise you on matters relating to the law. If your lawyer can’t help you with a particular matter, they can refer you to another specialist. Seeing a lawyer before a problem gets too big can save you anxiety and money.
Locating a good lawyer who can efficiently help with your particular problem may not be easy. Don't expect to locate a good lawyer by simply looking in the phone book or reading an advertisement. There's not enough information in these sources to help you make a valid judgment.
Conduct candidate interviews
One of the best ways to assess a lawyer’s legal ability is by interviewing the lawyer. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation at no charge. A few important questions to ask during this meeting are:
• What experience does the lawyer have in your type of legal matter?
• How long has he been in practice?
• What is his track record of success?
• What are his fees and how are they structured?
• Does he carry malpractice insurance? If so, how much?
• Who else would be working on your case and what are their rates?
• What additional costs may be involved in addition to lawyer fees (postage, filing fees, copy fees, etc.)?
• How often will you be billed?
• Can he provide references from other clients?
• Does he have a written fee agreement or representation agreement?
Know your legal needs and the specialty of lawyer
One other important thing to think about when picking lawyer is specialty, make sure the lawyer you hire is the lawyer you need. In other words, if you need a criminal defense lawyer, don’t hire an estate lawyer, even if he is an old family friend. Similarly, even in civil cases, you want to make sure you have the right specialist to meet your needs. Intellectual property law is far different from property law or compensation law, make sure your lawyer regularly practices the kind of law you need.
Know what your budget is
We all can’t afford to fly first class and drive Porches; of course, we all don’t need these things either. It’s the same with lawyers. The challenge is ensuring the right balance is met between obtaining high quality legal services and not overpaying. Having a budget will guide you, and the lawyer, in understanding what you need and what you can afford. Simply because a lawyer is well known and presumably expensive does not mean they cannot offer you affordable solutions.
Ask difficult questions
Good lawyers like difficult questions because they know the answer; bad lawyers change the topic. Ask them how they might defend your case, or why they believe you are entitled to a certain amount, or why they feel (in law) that you were wrongfully dismissed at work.
Make sure the lawyer reports to you
Once you hire a lawyer, explain that you want to be informed of all developments in your case. The best way to ensure this is by having the lawyer automatically send you a copy of all correspondence on your case. Then you can avoid repeated phone calls to find out what's happening, because those phone calls cost you money. Problems between lawyers and clients often result from poor communication. So if problems, you should come up, talk or write to your lawyer.