If you are faced with a legal problem, you can rely on lawyers to help you with a situation you can’t navigate on your own.
Lawyers are trained to provide proper legal advice and help you resolve a dispute. However, they are not the same. From rates and location to the area of expertise, there are several aspects you should consider before choosing the attorney who’s the best fit or you and your legal situation.
Selecting the best attorney may be time-consuming but it’s an important process that might dictate the success of your case.
Let’s say you’ve developed a list of prospective lawyers by talking to trusted sources like business advisors and people in your industry. Next to cost and billing, which is probably the first thing in your list, you can narrow the list down to a manageable shortlist by considering these eight other factors.
1. Area of specialization
Like doctors who specialize in different fields of study, lawyers tend to specialize in specific areas of law. We have lawyers for family law, commercial law, litigation and dispute resolution, crime, injury or accident, employment, property disputes, civil rights law, and intellectual property disputes.
While we have general practice attorneys, who are open to a wide range of situations, your situation may call for a more specific solution. A specialist will know the latest developments and legal nuances that can be applied to your situation.
Understand the issue you’re facing to determine what kind of lawyer is best suited to address your problem. If your situation is specific to your business, choosing someone who specializes in corporate law is your best bet.
2. Solid record of valuable experiences
Let’s get even more specific. Aside from specializing in the area of law you require, you want to get someone who has already handled cases similar to your own. You want a solid track record of success with the type of problem you have.
You may ask about his or her practicing history or checking their law firm’s website. You should also consider their length of service and the number of cases in a specific specialty. The more experience the attorney has that matches your situation, the more valuable they will be.
3. Expertise in your location
Laws may vary by state or region. If you’re in Greater Sydney New South Wales, Australia, for instance, chances are that the lawyers in Parramatta will have a better knowledge of the local laws, procedures, as well as the personalities of the local authorities.
You’re better off with a lawyer who is familiar with your area’s legal requirements. Besides, face-to-face communications are better than phone conferences and emails. It’s more beneficial to work with someone who’s located close enough to visit the site of the problem.
4. Adequate size of the law firm
How large are your attorney’s support network and resources?
Larger firms are generally more established. They have access to greater resources and have more capacity to handle complex cases. However, expect them to be more costly. Smaller firms are less expensive but they may be limited in terms of services, resources, and area of law you desire.
It all boils down to the nature of your legal problem. A larger firm may be more expensive upfront but they can give you better value for your budget. They have more resources to assist you, saving you more money from those “add-ons.”
5. A handful of genuine references
Are they highly regarded in the industry? When hiring someone to offer advice or perform a service, you want to make sure their previous clients had been satisfied with their performance.
Seek out referrals from people who have worked with them before. The same goes for seeing if a law firm has a good reputation. You may ask the lawyer to provide a few past clients for testimonials. If you’re worried about them giving you bias references, you can do your own research online.
Professionalism goes beyond personality. It involves objective behaviors that set the best lawyers apart from those who are merely knowledgeable.
A professional lawyer works efficiently and economically to protect your best interests. They respond to calls, texts, and emails promptly. They show how much they value your time and money by arriving at sessions on time and well-prepared. Lastly, they follow the law regardless of their position, role, and status.
7. Effective communication skills
Interviewing a couple of lawyers not only gives you insights about their area of expertise and track record – but it also helps you assess whether or not they’re a good, transparent communicator.
They should be able to explain complicated matters in plain English, instead of confusing you with a law jargon. They should also present you with a couple of options or solutions to ponder before deciding on a plan of action.
8. Compatibility and personality
An ideal lawyer is trustworthy, hardworking, and respectful. Professional things aside, a lawyer’s character should also be a factor. You’ll be sharing confidential information with your lawyer. With this, choose someone you’re compatible with and makes you feel comfortable in the process.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a resident writer for McAuley Hawach Lawyers Parramatta, one of the leading law firms in Western Sydney and Parramatta. When she’s not writing practical pieces of advice about family law, commercial law, and more, you can find her playing the piano while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.