There is no shortage of attorney advertising. Some of it is helpful, and some of it is not. In the end, you are going to have to do your own homework in deciding which attorney is right for you, and whether you even need an attorney in the first place. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for an attorney.
Most people that hire our firm have been referred to us by a former client, a physician, and sometimes, even an insurance defense attorney. Ask your friends, co-workers, and family members for recommendations. You may get more than one name, but if you get the same name a few times, you may be onto something.
There are a lot of websites out there that provide attorney referral services. However, some are better than others. Avvo is a website that provides attorney listings, and rates the attorneys according to several factors. These factors include years of experience, problems with the State Bar disciplinary folks, recommendations from clients, and other attorneys.
Look Out for Generalists
Some attorneys will advertise several “practice areas.” For example, you can easily find a phone book advertisement from an attorney that will handle bankruptcy, domestic relations, real estate, criminal defense, and estate planning. Although there are some law firms with several attorneys, each specializing in one particular area, be wary of a solo practitioner who is a “jack of all trades.” The law is ever-changing, and more complex day-to-day. You are better off looking at an attorney who does one thing, and doesn’t well.
Also, ask about the attorney's experience in the area where your case may be filed. Some attorneys cast a wide net when advertising, and may be hours away from the case. Sometimes, that is not avoidable, but if the case is going to be filed in court, you have a right to know how much experience that lawyer has in that particular court.
- Ask Questions
Many attorneys offer a “free consultation,” especially for auto injury, Social Security Disability, and on-the-job injury claims. Sometimes, this consultation is a good faith effort to give information. Other times, it’s nothing more than a “hard sell." Before you even see an attorney, checkout his or her website, and see whether the website provides free information, which will actually help you prepare for the meeting before you even step in the door.
You should not be shy about asking the hard questions. You should know how much the attorney spends working on the kind a case that you have, his experience in litigating and trying cases, how long he has been handling these kinds of cases, whether he has actually stood in front of a jury, and exactly what the fee agreement provides for.
Many fee agreements for personal injury and auto injury cases are “contingent,” which means that the fee is contingent upon recovering money for the client. Ask what percentage the fee is, and what amount of money is used to calculate the fee. Also be sure to ask about whether your lawyer is willing to advance any costs on the case, or requires that you pay costs as the case moves forward.
4. It's a Relationship
In the end, when you retain an attorney, you are entering into a relationship. Sometimes, the relationship may last only a few months, but other times, it could be years. You certainly have every right to know who you will be working with, and how they work.
Our firm represents injured and disabled people, and we have been added for 20 years. We have free books, blog posts, and other helpful articles on our website. Also, if you would like to visit, we are happy to answer your questions. Call us at 503-325-8600.