How to choose an attorney?
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 good attorney.
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?