How to Choose a Lawyer
Kyle J. Bristow, Copyright© 2012
When it comes to attorneys—as it goes with any profession—there are good lawyers and there are bad lawyers, aggressive lawyers and easygoing lawyers, expensive lawyers and reasonably-priced lawyers. A lot of times what type of lawyer you require will depend upon the area of law in which you need assistance: an introverted lawyer would likely be better suited to assisting you with transactional work, whereas an extroverted lawyer would be better suited to dealing in matters that involve trial work and tough negotiations with adverse parties and their lawyers.
Prior to choosing a lawyer, it is best to run a cursory search of their name via the Internet. Look at their website(s), their online résumés on www.linkedin.com, their scores on websites such as www.AVVO.com and www.martindale.com, and whether they have had disciplinary problems by searching on the supreme court website of the state in which they practice law.
It is best to consult with multiple lawyers prior to choosing one; many offer free initial consultations for prospective clients. At such consultations, it is best to inquire as to how many cases per year they actually take to trial—for some lazier criminal defense lawyers, they are quick to pressure their clients to take plea deals instead of aggressively fighting the charges.
When you choose a lawyer, make sure that they are experienced in the field of law at issue. For example, if you need a lawyer to defend you from criminal charges, you should not hire an intellectual property lawyer just because he is a family friend.
It is also wise to inquire as to the payment options of lawyers who you are considering to hire. Depending upon the area of law, common fee structures include flat fee, hourly, and contingency.
For the flat fee, a lawyer will charge a rate that covers all of his legal serves for a given case—no matter how much or little he works on it. Many criminal defense lawyers offer flat fees for misdemeanor cases. Attorneys are prohibited from charging contingency rates for criminal and certain family law matters
The hourly fees are often collected from a retainer, which the client is required to provide to the attorney at the onset of the attorney-client relationship. The attorney will deduct payments from this account as the money is earned by him or her, and what remains of the retainer at the conclusion of the case is immediately returned to the client.
Contingency rates are often offered by personal injury attorneys. In such fee arrangements, the attorney may earn somewhere between 35 and 45 percent of the gross judgment or settlement that he or she achieves for his or her client, but the client pays nothing if a judgment or settlement is not achieved.
The best advice is to find the lawyer with whom you feel comfortable.
No attorney-client relationship is established via AVVO.com. The material posted by Kyle J. Bristow, Esq., is for educational purposes for prospective clients only and people should not make legal decisions based on it. You are advised not to take, or refrain from taking, any action based on what Mr. Bristow has stated on this website.