Hiring a Lawyer
Do Your Research
All lawyers specialize in a certain area of law, so make sure your lawyer specializes in the services that are relevant to your case. A lawyer who regularly deals with auto-accidents may not be the best option for Estate Planning. Consult with a number of lawyers before you choose your representation. It is important to research potential attorneys and the type of experience that they offer in order to acquire the services you need. In your consultations, be able to express your situation clearly and concisely with questions prepared about your probability of success, fees, and a general timeline to resolve the situation.
Communicating With Your Lawyer
It would be beneficial to have some form of agreement in writing about how often you will be contacted, what information you will need to provide, and what all of your options are. Once you’ve made the decision to hire a lawyer, do not be afraid to ask questions about their exact methods or clarify aspects of the case that you may not understand. Be open and upfront with your lawyer. It is important to disclose any information you may have that is relevant to your current situation.
Fees and Payment Arrangements
Understand the total cost for your lawyer’s services and have it in writing. Some extra charges may be associated with services like copying documents and conducting research. The American Bar Association advises that lawyers explain their fees and state ethics rules require that those fees be reasonable. It may be beneficial to ask for paralegals or junior lawyers to perform some of the work in order to minimize costs. There are a variety of payment arrangements, including contingency fees, flat fees, hourly rates, retainers, public legal services, and pre-paid legal plans. The type of arrangement depends on the lawyer and what they are willing to accept in addition to certain rules about special types of cases. Some will consider your financial situation and plan accordingly. Make sure to fully understand how you will be paying for your representation.
Keep Detailed Records
Make copies of all important documents and keep them organized. You want to be able refer to past information if the need arises.
Your Attorney’s Performance
You are free to fire your lawyer at any point in the process if you are not satisfied with their work, but that does not mean you do not have to pay for work already completed. Understand the consequences associated with hiring a new lawyer. The acquisition of a new attorney can delay your case and double costs. If you have a dispute with your lawyer that you are having a difficult time resolving, you can file a complaint with your state or local bar association. Arbitration is also available in some states. It is also helpful to communicate your satisfaction to your attorney if you are happy with their work.