Americans file about 40 million lawsuits every year. This makes sense since there are lots of reasons to file a claim.
Whether you were injured, have a corporate breach of contract, or were subject to intellectual property theft, you’re probably entitled to financial compensation. To get it, you’re going to need to hire a top-notch attorney. Read on to learn how to find one.
Choose Someone With the Right Specialization
Lawyers aren’t one size fits all. There are dozens of types of attorneys that practice different kinds of law.
A personal injury lawyer knows how to get compensation for those who have been injured in an accident caused by negligence. An auto accident lawyer specializes in car crashes. There are also corporate lawyers, real estate lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, and more.
Specialization means that the attorney has focused on learning the ins and outs of one type of law. They’ll have a perfect understanding of their unique area and can give you specific expert advice.
You can look for lawyers in the right practice area by looking at your state bar website. They’ll have listed out lawyers based on their specialization. You can filter them based on where they’re located so you can find someone to meet with.
Look at Multiple Possibilities
A lot of people will immediately find an attorney near them and mentally lock themselves into a decision. Unfortunately, the first law firm you find might not be the best one. You’re going to need to do some further research and figure out what the best options available are.
Click through the websites of various attorneys and law firms. Make a list of the ones that stand out. Those you jot down should be a good fit for your specific, well-thought-out needs.
Once you have 5-10 names down, you can start to filter some out by looking into their credentials.
Thoroughly Research Each Lawyer
After finding an attorney in your specialization, look into their background. You want someone with a top-notch legal education.
Check to see that they went to a reputable law school. Look into the university that they graduated from and make sure it’s legit. Once you determine that the institution is of a high caliber, you can move on to looking at experience.
Never hire a lawyer that doesn’t have 10+ years of experience. Education alone is important, but there’s no substitute for real-life practice. Lawyers who have experience know how to be open with you, understand how to negotiate a settlement, and know the ins and outs of law in your area.
Make sure that the attorney has their qualifications on their website. This is good news when it comes to transparency and openness. Any lawyer worth their salt will want to share their credentials with you.
Read Reviews and Forums
There’s a reason that 94% of people use online reviews to make decisions about hiring someone. They give insight into how the lawyer has worked with other people in the past. Reviews aren’t something that people are forced to give, so they’re going to be honest about their experiences.
First, see what people had to say about the lawyer more generally. Were they helpful and communicative? Did they reach a high settlement for the clients leaving the reviews?
If the answer to questions like these seems to be ‘no,’ run for it. There are better options open to you.
If you determine that the attorney leaves satisfied clients in their wake, your job still isn’t over. Read over the reviews and see whether the other clients had cases similar to yours. This is important because you need someone who has won cases like yours in the past.
Even attorneys within the same broad category of ‘personal injury’ might have more specific specializations like product liability or medical malpractice. You’re going to need to choose someone who operates inside your niche. Reviews can help you to figure that out.
Online forums are also a good tool when choosing a lawyer. You can interact with previous clients and ask them more specific questions. This is a good way to get some preliminary answers before scheduling a consultation.
Schedule a Consultation
At this point, you’ll probably have 2-3 attorneys that you’re still considering. For the final round of choosing, you’ll need to schedule a consultation and talk to those lawyers directly.
A consultation is not the same as a contract. You’re not signing any papers or committing to anything when you request a consultation. It’s no obligation, meaning that all you’re signing up for is a single conversation.
During this conversation, you can decide whether or not you and the attorney are on the same wavelength. You’ll find out whether you get along and are a good fit. Sometimes a lawyer who’s totally qualified won’t be the right choice for your specific needs or communication style, and that’s okay.
You just need to talk to them and make sure. A consultation lets you feel them out so you can make a more informed decision.
Ask the Right Questions
To appropriately decide whether a lawyer’s a good fit for you, you’re going to need to ask the right questions. Some of the most important include:
• What type of payment model do you use?
• When will you expect payment?
• Could you personally tell me about your education and experience?
• What’s your win-to-loss ratio?
• What cases have you taken on that are similar to mine?
• What kind of settlement did you reach in these similar cases?
• How much time will you have to dedicate to my case?
• Who exactly will be handling my case?
• How and when do you communicate with me about my case?
• How long do you usually take to reach fair settlements in cases like mine?
If your attorney isn’t forthcoming or dodges questions, that’s a sign that they don’t want to be honest with you. Look somewhere else if you can’t trust the person.
An honest lawyer will be happy to discuss your case during a consultation. Once you find someone communicative and easy to talk to, you can then start thinking about signing a contract.
Hire an Attorney the Right Way
No matter what kind of case you need help with, finding a top-notch attorney is important to getting compensation and winning your case. Now that you know how to find and hire an attorney, it’s time to get started. Use the search function on our website to learn more tips for taking legal action.