Hiring a lawyer is a very important decision. As with any important decision, the more information you have, the better the decision will be. This guide is meant to assist the consumer in the hiring of the appropriate lawyer for his or her needs.
I am always surprised that most prospective clients do not ask me about my experience as an attorney. I find that even when I try to tell them about my experience, most prospective clients don't seem to appreciate the importance of an experienced attorney, and seem more concerned about cost. That's fine if you're hiring a lawn service, because let's face it, there's not that much difference between two guys competing to mow your lawn. But in hiring an attorney, one cannot fully appreciate or consider the cost, without first considering the experience of the attorney. Would you want a doctor fresh out of medical school operating on you? Would you be willing to pay more to have a seasoned and well-experienced surgeon operate on you? Of course you would. You wouldn't hire a podiatrist who offered to operate on your eyes because he needed the business. You should strongly consider the Attorneys experience before making your final decision.
The maxim "you get what you pay for" is just as true with legal services as anything else. Keeping that in mind, it is important to realize that lawyers make their living helping multiple clients. Many prospective clients seek an "aggressive" lawyer, but fail to realize that this will cost more money. So it is important to explain to the lawyer how you want him to proceed whether that be "aggressive", or normally. Since most attorneys charge an hourly rate, "aggressive" translates to more work, thus more fees. If that is not what you want, be sure to make that clear. Also, make sure the attorney's hourly rate matches his skill and experience level. Keep in mind that the lower the hourly rate is, the further your initial retainer gets you. Have the attorney give you an estimation of the amount of hours it will take. Finally, make sure you ask about non-attorney costs, which include filing fees, court reporters, investigators, etc...
Make sure you are comfortable with your lawyer, and feel he or she is sympathetic to your cause. However a lawyer has a responsibility to explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and advise you when your position is not supported by the law. Beware of any lawyer who simply agrees with everything you say, and makes promises about the outcome of the case. You should hire a lawyer who gives you confidence that he or she is competent to give you sound legal advice.