If you have made the determination that your situation requires legal representation, you’ve come to an important decision, but that is just the first step. Now that you know you need help, the question becomes who you can trust.
Like with many occurrences in life, if you have a relative, friend or co-worker who has had a positive experience with a lawyer, that is a great place to begin. Remember, however, that most attorneys limit their practice to specific fields of law and that your prospective lawyer should have experience relevant to your particular needs.
Narrow Your List
If you cannot find a reference or if you are simply seeking more than one option, you can find a great deal of information via the internet. Consider exploring:
- Local bar associations
- Legal specialty groups
- Third party referral sights
Keep in mind that all information is not created equal, and much you find on a website can be outdated, inaccurate or merely opinion. Look for data that is found in more than one source and can be independently verified to narrow your search.
Consider the Type of Law Firm
Realize how you like to work; that is, what kind of firm will you be comfortable with? In general, your choices will be from among a solo practitioner, a small to medium size firm or a large corporate practice. Each has its plusses and minuses, but it is important for you to consider both the type of case you have, what your expectations of legal representation are and what you will be comfortable with.
Arrange a Face to Face Meeting
Once you have narrowed your choices, the best way to come to a final decision is an in-person meeting. Most lawyers will gladly do so without charge, but verify this fact beforehand so that there are no surprises. When you get together, remember that it is a two-way street, and the attorney will be assessing you as a potential client as well. He or she will ask many questions in an effort to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of your case, how you will likely fare as a potential plaintiff or defendant and any other issues that are relative to your case.
Specific Topics to Cover
Of course, the attorney has had far more experience in evaluating potential clients than you have had in selecting counsel, so it is easy to be a little intimidated. That is a natural response, but try and remain calm and focused. Be sure and cover the following:
- Verify the lawyer has experience in the area of your case
- Will the attorney personally handle your case or will an associate or paralegal be your primary contact person
- Do you understand the retainer agreement, especially the fee structure including expenses
- What is the primary method you will be communicating, and how long does it take to receive a response when you make an inquiry
- Approximately how long will the case take to resolve
There is no precise formula for retaining a lawyer and no guarantee of a specific outcome, but following these tips can make your legal experience a more positive one.
Christopher Steven is an avid blogger from Tulsa, Oklahoma who is passionate about encouraging safety in the Tulsa community while working with the Gorospe & Smith Tulsa Personal Injury Lawyer Firm.