If you need an attorney, you'll want to hire the best one for your situation. In order to get the best representation, it's important to hire an attorney that is in the practice area that your legal matter involves. There are also some general qualities that make an attorney a good one. FindLaw's Attorney Hiring Tools section provides helpful resources to help you choose the right attorney for your situation. In this section, you can find links to information on hiring specific types of lawyers and tips for gathering information before meeting with a lawyer.
Tips For Hiring an Attorney
While a good lawyer doesn't guarantee that you'll win your case, you'll at least know that the lawyer gave you the best representation. One of the most important qualities to look for when hiring an attorney is that you feel comfortable with him or her. Feeling comfortable will allow you to be open and honest, which is important since a lawyer can't fully assist you without all of the pertinent information.
Another important characteristic of a good lawyer is a clear fee structure. A good lawyer will let you know exactly how he or she charges for his or her services. While the lawyer won't be able to give you the exact amount the case will cost if he or she charges by the hour, you can always ask for an estimate of how many hours the case could take. The lawyer should also let you know of any other possible costs that could be associated with your legal matter, and the fees for any work done by support staff.
Another quality of a good attorney is communication and availability. Of course, this is little harder to find out before you've already hired the attorney, but you can test the lawyer's communication after your initial consultation. To do this, you can email a couple questions that you withheld from the consultation and see how long it takes the attorney to respond. If it takes days to respond, the lawyer might be too busy to handle your case, or not good at timely communication.
Finally, before even meeting the attorney, you should research the attorney on the Internet. You can look at any online reviews from people who have hired the attorney in the past. You should also check with your state bar association's website to see if the attorney has had any misconduct charges, malpractice accusations, or complaints.
Unfortunately, despite all of your efforts, sometimes you have a problem with your attorney. Some problems are an act of misconduct, while others are not actually a violation of ethical rules. For example, an honest disagreement about how a case should be handled, while frustrating, doesn't constitute misconduct.
In order for the lawyer to be disciplined, he or she must have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. Some examples of violations for which an attorney can be disciplined include charging a clearly illegal or grossly excessive fee, intentionally making false statements, and not keeping the client informed of important developments in the case. The penalties for a violation can range from a private reprimand to the permanent loss of the privilege of practicing law, depending on the severity of the misconduct.
If you have a problem with your lawyer, it's important that you voice your concerns to your lawyer. Letting your lawyer know about the problem could result in a mutually acceptable solution. If you're unable to talk to your lawyer in person or on the phone, you can write a letter or email explaining the problem and asking for a response. Finally, you can always fire the attorney and hire a new attorney. If you believe that your attorney committed an act of professional misconduct, you can file a formal complaint. It's important to realize that filing a formal complaint is a serious matter because a lawyer accused of misconduct is adversely impacted whether or not the lawyer is ultimately found to have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.