In Negotiation

How do I choose the best attorney for me?

Choosing an attorney is like dating- you likely wouldn't marry the first person you saw, so don't choose an attorney just because they're the first one you find.  Take a look at the five suggestions below to learn how to pick the best attorney for you. 

1) FIGURE OUT WHAT KIND OF LAWYER YOU NEED.  This will be specific to your legal issue.  Personal injury?  Divorce?  Child custody? Contract dispute?  By determining what your legal issue is, you can figure out what kind of attorney you will need to represent you.  Attorneys are like doctors in that most do not handle every single type of legal issue.  Define your legal issue and then focus your search on those who offer the services that you need.

2) USE THE INTERNET.  Like most other things in life, you can find the attorney that's best for you by starting your search on the internet.  Look for the lawyers who practice the type of law that matches your legal issue and who do so in your geographic area.  Most attorneys today market themselves on the internet and, therefore, welcome reviews from past clients and peers.  Pay attention to both.  Those reviews can give you an attorney of the attorney's personality and how he or she handles legal issues similar to yours.  Good or bad, there should be plenty of information on the internet about any attorney you consider hiring.

3) GET REFERRALS FROM PEOPLE YOU TRUST.  Your social network is bound to contain an attorney or two.  Reach out to those who know you well and ask them if they know of any lawyers who might be able to handle your case.  If you know an attorney, ask them for recommendations.  By relying on your own network, you can more quickly find somebody that matches your criteria for representation.

4) SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION.  Think of the consultation as a job interview for your lawyer.  Come prepared with a list of questions and see how the attorney responds to what you ask.  Most attorneys shouldn't have any issue answering your questions, so long as they are relevant and within the attorney's knowledge.  Some things to consider asking include:

- How long has the attorney practiced in a particular area of law?

- How many cases have they handled that have similarities with yours?

- What do they know about the jurisdiction in which your case will be resolved?

- Who will the attorney have assist on your case?

- What's the attorney's strategy for helping you?

- Are you okay with the attorney's personality?

5) MAKE SURE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.  Most importantly, you should like your lawyer, or at the very least respect them and feel comfortable that they are handling your case.  Your lawyer should put you at ease and inspire confidence that they know what they are doing when they talk about your legal issues.  The attorney-client relationship is built on trust, and if you don't trust your lawyer you need to find somebody else to represent you.  Find the person that makes you feel comfortable about your case.  Above all else, trust your gut.  Doing so will probably save you pain and heartache in the long run.