Demystifying How to Hire an Attorney: Meeting Lawyers to Potentially Handle Your Issue
In last Thursday’s blog post, I started to demystify the process of hiring a lawyer. In that post, I talked about how to know what kind of lawyer you need to hire, and how to identify lawyers who are qualified to handle your case. Today I want to discuss how to select among lawyers and how to know if a lawyer is right for your case.
People often talk about someone in terms of being the "best" at what they do. What you’ll find is that there’s no single "best attorney" or "best divorce lawyer." The lawyer who’s best for one person may not be a good lawyer for another person. Hiring an attorney is a very personal decision. You want someone who not only has the professional expertise to handle your legal issue, but also someone you can trust. That’s why it’s so important to meet a lawyer before deciding to hire him.
Before you decide to hire a lawyer, you should schedule what’s known as an initial consultation. Some lawyers offer these meetings free to potential clients and others charge a nominal fee. At this meeting you can:
- Interview the lawyer to learn more about his expertise
- Tell the lawyer about your legal issue, get his evaluation and hear his proposed strategy for handling the issue
- Decide whether you’d be comfortable hiring the attorney to handle your issue
Common sense should apply as you are listening to the lawyer answer your questions. Does he have experience handling cases similar to yours? Does she seem knowledgeable about the issue?
Hiring an Attorney
Once you’ve met with each attorney you’re considering for your legal issue, you should be ready to hire one. Think about your requirements for a lawyer and then think about how well each lawyer stacks up. Typical requirements might include:
- Has sufficient experience handling legal issues similar to yours
- Proposes a strategy for handling your legal issue that makes sense
- Charges a fee that is fair and reasonable
- Makes you feel confident in her skills and advice
- Is someone with whom you’d feel comfortable entrusting your legal issue
If you’re unable to make a decision, ask each lawyer to put you in touch with a former client. Talking to someone who’s worked with the attorney and asking them about their experiences may make your decision an easier one.
Once you’ve decided which attorney to hire, that lawyer may ask you to sign a retainer agreement. This contract spells out both your obligations to the lawyer and the lawyer’s obligations to you. It should detail the specifics of how much you’re paying the lawyer to handle your legal issue, whether you’re required to make an upfront deposit (also known as a retainer fee) and how frequently payments are due.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll feel like a pro next time you have to hire an attorney!
- Learn more about your legal issue on Lawyers.com
- Find out exactly who’s in that law office
- Find a lawyer on Lawyers.com
- Discuss your issue on our community forums
- Lawyers.com Suggested Legal Books
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