Choosing an Attorney

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I know that there will be at least a few times in my life when I’ll need an attorney: if I buy a house, for instance, or when I eventually create a will. Obviously, lots of people have lawyers on retainer and find them when they need them for everything from lawsuits to routine things.


But what I don’t understand is how all of these people are finding these attorneys. I know it’s easy enough to pick one out of the phone book, but how can you tell if an attorney is any good? Do people really just pick their lawyers based on billboards?


Well, some people must pick their lawyers based, at least in part, on billboards. Otherwise, why would attorneys bother to put them up?


All jokes aside, saying that some people choose their lawyers because of billboards is different from saying that one should choose one’s lawyer because of a billboard. As you might imagine, there are better ways. But what are they?


When it comes time to get a lawyer, your first step should be determining what type of lawyer you need. Lawyers come in all sorts of types, of course, and specialties can be very different. Your options will be quite different depending on whether you need an expert in workers’ comp law, family law, estate law, or personal injury law!


Once you know your lawyer’s specialty, it’s time to do some research. You can start by looking in the same way that you might look for a restaurant or a record store: use Google and Google Maps to find options near you, and use review sites like Yelp to get a sense of which firms are the most popular.


Yelp and other general review sites aren’t the best tools for this job, though, so be sure to check multiple sites and–better yet–take a look at review sites that are specific to law.


As you’re researching, you will also want to look at law firm websites, news articles, and any other sources you come across. Has this attorney recently won a big award? Did they go to a great law school? Are there client testimonials available? Are they very specialized, or do they offer a range of services?


If possible, getting first-hand advice from someone who has been in your situation is a great idea. Ask around–a little networking can go a long way toward connecting you with the right attorney.


Finally, you’ll want to schedule a consultation. Come prepared to talk and explain your needs. Don’t be afraid to consult with a second law firm if you don’t feel the first was a good fit. Many law firms offer free consultations.


Ultimately, finding a lawyer isn’t much harder than finding great service in any business category. If you do your research and select carefully, you should be able to find a trustworthy, professional, and effective legal team.


“Ethics is knowing the difference  between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” — Potter Stewart