How to Choose a Lawyer

What kind of law firm should I look for?

As with medical care, it is usually wise to start with a general practice law firm (sometimes called family lawyers). They are experienced in a wide range of services: wills, estate planning, divorce, accident claims, and so on. If your case is unusually complex, they can recommend specialist who can handle your case more effectively.

During the initial interview, ask not only the lawyer’s general qualifications but also about specific experience in your kind of case. Choose a lawyer for whom you will be an important client, who seems helpful to you, and whom you trust to handle your case competently and efficiently.

Of course, we would like to be one of the law firms you consider. We have experience in a broad range of legal problems, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services

What about fees? Will I be able to afford the legal help I need?

Fees vary according to the lawyer’s experience and time expended on your case. In general, fees are lower at smaller firms than at large ones. In most cases you will work with one lawyer, not the whole firm, and the fees you agree to should reflect that fact.

In some situations, such as accident claims, the fee can be contingent on the settlement. That means higher fees for higher settlements; and may mean no fee at all if there is no settlement awarded. After the initial consultation, ask your lawyer to confirm your fee agreement in writing.

Remember, it is not just price that determines value. Just as high fees do not guarantee success, low fees are not necessarily a bargain. In general, the best value is a lawyer whose experience in situations similar to yours will minimize the time spent settling your case . . . both your time and the lawyer’s.

I’ve only used a lawyer for a will and my house closing. Who should I see for something more complicated?

Ask friends for recommendations, especially those who have had similar situations. Check the Yellow Pages under “lawyers” for ads specifying the service you need. Interview at least two and ask what experience they have had in handling similar cases. Remember, you are hiring a service; you should be satisfied that the person you choose to stand up for you in court is the right one.

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