If someone is searching for a lawyer, they are going to find plenty of options, regardless of where they live. In fact, the U.S. makes up five percent of the population of the world, and about 70% of the world’s lawyers. Today, the U.S. boasts having one lawyer for every 200 citizens.
With so many attorneys practicing law in the U.S., it can be confusing and challenging to find the right attorney for a person’s needs and situation. While this is true, there are a few tips that may prove beneficial.
Keep in mind, wide variations are present regarding a lawyer’s abilities, skill level, and history in the courtroom. This is why word of mouth and personal recommendations are a great way to begin this search. Some other tips to help with this search can be found here.
The Nature of the Legal Problem
The nature of a person’s legal situation is going to determine the type of lawyer they should hire. Usually, attorneys are going to concentrate their area of practice in a few specialties, including civil litigation, bankruptcy, personal injury law, employment law, family law, and criminal law. Because of this, it is up to an individual to find the attorney that has the skills and background that is right for their needs.
Referrals and Word of Mouth
Seeking referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations from family members, friends, business associates, and neighbors is a smart way to begin the search for a local attorney. These people have no true vested interest in who they recommend. Also, if they have personal experience with the attorney, they will be able to communicate any problems or positives that they had during their interactions with a certain attorney or law firm. Even though it may be tempting to hire a friend or relative who is a lawyer for the situation, this may not be the most effective strategy. For example, if that person does not work in the area of law that the case resides in, they may not have the skills or abilities to handle the legal issue in question.
Local Bar Associations
Don’t stop with just personal recommendations. Another resource that can be used to find the right lawyer for a person’s legal situation is by using the information provided by the local bar association. Most city and county bar associations will provide lawyer referral services to people in the public, which means they may not screen for actual qualifications. However, with the American Bar Association, there is a database that provides assistance for those who need legal help.
Ask Other Lawyers
In some cases, one lawyer can recommend another lawyer in the local area who can provide help with a specific legal need. Most legal circles are small and lawyers in a local area know one another. As a result, they can be a great source of advice and provide recommendations based on personal knowledge and past dealings. Also, attorneys are aware of other lawyer’s reputations in a certain field. Remember, though, some lawyers will receive a referral fee if they recommend a case to a different lawyer. In some situations, this may influence who they recommend.
The Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory
If someone has time to go to the local public library or a law library, they will find this directory of lawyers. It is considered an authoritative resource when it comes to information about the legal profession around the globe. Also, there is an online locater service for lawyers provided by Martindale-Hubbell. This includes a database of more than one million different attorneys along with law firms located in more than 160 countries. To find the right lawyer in the local area, it is possible to filter results by geographic location or practice area.
There are several directories online that provide information and resources to help individuals find a lawyer. Keep in mind, though that these are for-profit organizations, in most cases. This means there is financial incentives to recommend one attorney over another in most cases.
Legal Aid Services
If someone needs the help and services of a lawyer, but they are unable to pay for this service, they can contact the legal aid office in their local area. Here they can find options for pro bono or free legal assistance for low-income people. In most cases, this is only offered for non-criminal matters. It is a good idea to look up legal aid in the city or state where it is needed online to find out what is available.
Hiring an Attorney
Before moving forward with the hiring process, it is a good idea to meet with one or more attorneys. During this initial consultation, which may or may not be offered at no cost, it is a good idea to ask plenty of questions about the services offered and the type of cases the attorney has worked on in the past. During this initial meeting, it is also necessary to talk about fees.
Each lawyer is unique. Some will charge by the hour while others charge a flat rate. For personal injury cases, most attorneys use a contingency fee basis. The key is to understand how legal fees will be handled before leaving this meeting. While legal services can be expensive in some situations, they are more than worth the time and investment that has been made.
When it comes to hiring a lawyer, there are more than a few factors to keep in mind. Finding the right person for the job can be challenging, but with the tips and information found above, a person has a good starting point. Be sure to keep this in mind to make the right decision regarding what attorney to hire and which one is going to adequately represent the case or legal situation a person is facing. Being informed is half the battle, so be sure to research all the options.