Throughout the course of your legal problems, you will have to make some
tough decisions – If you were involved in an accident then you have to
choose between bringing criminal damages or press with a plaintiff case, if
you have a small business and you were involved in a deal, then you have to
decide whether to sign it or let it pass. There is no clear-cut answer in
many of these dilemmas, and getting the right lawyer is crucial to you. We
examine the perks of choosing a lawyer in a pre-paid legal plan as opposed
to hiring your own lawyer, and some simple steps you can take to choose a
The number one criterion has to do with a lawyer’s legal ability: someone
who lays the law down for you, present you with options, explain the
ramifications of each decision you make and give you recommendations on the
best course of action. In this day and age of complicated legal matters,
many lawyers are increasingly specialised and you stand to get better
information from someone with a practice focus in a particular area of the
law than a generalist who deals with a broad spectrum of legal issues.
Building rapport is also very important: your relationship with your lawyer
can make or break your case. You need a lawyer who gives you candid advice
and council you can trust, someone with enough perspective to step back
from an issue and look at it from all perspectives.
Client-lawyer relationships are very limited within a pre-paid legal plan.
Because of “preventive” nature of most plans, your contact with your
lawyer will be limited on many occasions. You seldom get to talk to your
lawyer face-to-face – as most of the consultation is done over the phone
– and even when you get to talk to them, it’s difficult to build rapport
when your office consultations are limited to a dozen hours a year.
The good news, however, is you still have some options left. When you sign
up for a legal plan, you get to choose your lawyer and there is a number of
steps you can take to increase the likelihood of getting a good lawyer.
First, you need to ask for referrals from previous clients. Ask around
about good attorneys in the network. Once you get a few names, check their
educational background, their qualifications and their professional track
record with your state’s bar association.
After you receive your referrals, don’t shy away from setting up interviews
with attorneys in the network. Most don’t mind receiving enquiries about
what they do and how able there are. |Ask tough questions: How long have
they been in practice? How satisfied are their previous clients? How many
legal problems of interest to you have they taken recently?