Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Even if you’re a web developer, designer, or an artist, there will be times in your life when you need legal representation. If you were bitten by a neighbor’s dog, hit by another vehicle on the road or mistreated when you were admitted to a hospital, you’ll want to hire a lawyer.
You’ll also need an attorney when buying a new home or planning out your will. Don’t go into your search for a lawyer blind. Learn how to find the right lawyer who can help you with whatever crossroads you’ve reached.
3 Top Tips for Hiring a Lawyer
1. Don’t rely solely on a Google search. If an attorney’s website isn’t yet ranked, you could miss out on a great lawyer. Contact your state’s bar association to find lawyers who specialize in the type of representation you need.
2. Be wary of flashy advertising. The best lawyers get plenty of work by word-of-mouth advertising alone. If they have to spend a ton of money on various promotional materials, it could be a sign of desperation, not prosperity. Some advertising is normal, but it could be a red flag if they seem to be begging for new clients.
3. Check out the lawyer’s credentials, including where they studied, their work history and current involvement in professional organizations.
4. Interview your prospective attorney. It’s not just about the facts. What’s your rapport like with the lawyer? Do you feel supported and understood? Your legal representative is working for you, and while he or she has important expertise that you need, you’re still the client. Make sure you’re going to receive the kind of service that suits you.
Your friend has worked with a great, reliable, affordable lawyer in the past, and she’s encouraging you to hire him. The only problem is that his offices are located several counties away. As a savvy adult, you know that it’s always best to hire a local attorney. Here’s why:
- Knowledge of local laws.
- Familiarity with courtroom staff.
- Understanding of local jury perspectives.
- Relationships with or awareness of area businesses and professionals.
- Convenient location for in-person meetings.
Cost shouldn’t be the only factor in choosing a lawyer, but it certainly is a major one. Familiarize yourself with the three different types of legal fees: contingency, hourly and flat. Love the attorney but hate his rate? Haggle – you’ll be surprised at how much wiggle room there is in his “bottom line.” Lastly, always ask for the fee to be put in writing and signed by the lawyer (and you). That way, you won’t get stuck paying more than what you originally agreed to.
Pro Bono Lawyers
Why ever pay for a lawyer when there are lawyers out there who will do the work pro bono (translation: for free). Well, because finding such a lawyer ain’t easy. The good news is that just about every type of lawyer takes on pro bono cases from time to time. Whether you have a personal injury case or are facing a criminal charge, there’s probably a lawyer somewhere who’ll take your type of case on for nothing.
Also, some states actually require that lawyers complete “X” amount of pro bono hours every year. Unfortunately, lawyers don’t generally publicize that they’re offering pro bono services. You’ll have to either call the lawyer directly or contact your state’s bar association to find out if they know of any lawyers working pro bono.