Being attorneys that are in court on a continuous basis and having practiced in our respective areas as long as we have, we can easily identify those lawyers that are “out of their element.” The change in the economic climate has affected everyone, even lawyers. Attorneys that once did business litigation, real estate closings, and the like have found that their market has dried up a bit. However, with the down economy, two areas of practice have grown exponentially…Criminal Law and Divorce/Child Custody Work. Our “market” has been inundated with lawyers that have decided to take on a case or two, often at reduced fees, just to make ends meet when all they have is a license which ALLOWS them to practice any type of law; however, they don’t have the expertise that AFFORDS them the ability to do the job correctly.
There are several points to take into consideration when hiring a lawyer to handle your criminal case or divorce/custody issue. These are not all inclusive, but they are a good starting point.
1. Don’t hire the cheapest lawyer you find…you get what you pay for.
We can’t even begin to count the number of times that a prospective client didn’t hire our office because another attorney quoted them a fee that wasn’t just lower, but it was DRASTICALLY lower. We certainly are not the cheapest or most expensive law firm in the metro area; however, our fees are directly proportionate to our experience and expertise. If you speak to a number of attorneys who seem to know what they are talking about and all of them are quoting a fee that are within $500 and $1000 of each other, you are probably on the right track. However, when you have an attorney that is quoting you a fee that is half, if not 75% less than other offices, BEWARE. These are attorneys that don’t know the value of the service that NEEDS to be provided. This could be because they only dabble in that area of the law or their level of experience with your type of case is scarce at best.
Ask yourself a question, if every other car dealer is selling that vehicle you have been looking at for three weeks within a price range of $22,000 and $25,000…but you find another dealer offering it to you for $12,000 (however, they want you to buy it without an inspection), are you going to hand over the money without a second thought? Your legal issue is the most important thing going on in your life right now; don’t go with the budget lawyer; you have no idea what you will end up with.
2. Ask them about their background and whether they have experience trying cases.
An attorney should be quick to recite his or her resume. Any trial lawyer can recount for you their recent track record, basic facts of those cases, where they got their training from, etc. If you ask an attorney about their last 3 trials they had in front of jury and they look at you like a deer in headlights, this is not a good sign. You can always count on an experienced lawyer to be ready, willing and able to brag about their recent successes. Not necessarily the best trait to have; however, you can certainly use it to your benefit.
3. Interview at least three attorneys, even if it is over the phone.
Did you marry the first man or woman you ever had a conversation with? Now, I am sure that there are a handful of people out there that will tell me they met their wife of 50 years when they were 5 years old and never looked back. Sure, it is possible that the first lawyer you speak with will be the one for you; however, how are you supposed to know without courting a few of them. Take your time and speak to several prospective attorneys after doing your own research first. Then ask the tough questions. If they start making promises to you in your first conversation about what will happen with your case (and it seems too good to be true) they are likely lying (overselling) to you in order to get your money. Talk to as many lawyers as you can but don’t let this process delay your hiring of a lawyer too long. It is still imperative to hire an attorney as soon as possible to protect all of your legal rights.
4. Make sure your prospective attorney takes a burden off when you swipe your card or write a check.
When hiring a lawyer, it’s not like a normal purchase. You don’t get to walk out with a new electronic device or drive away in a new vehicle. The only thing a lawyer sells you is peace of mind that your issues will be handled. Most people that come into our office carry the burden of their troubles with them all day because they don’t know what to do or what to expect. A lawyer should be able to take that burden from you (as much as possible) and allow you to rest easy that everything is being taken care of. We tell our clients when they leave our office, TRY NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT…if there is something for you to worry about, we will call you and tell you to do so. If you are not getting that feeling, leave and do not look back.
If you have been searching for a lawyer with the experience to handle your legal issues, call our office today. Don’t wait! (770) 945-2320