There are so many reasons you might end up needing to hire an attorney at some point. For example, if you’re in an accident, you may need a lawyer to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf.
You might be dealing with custody or divorce issues, or perhaps someone is suing you personally or your business. You could need an attorney to help you set up a business, many people hire attorneys to help them with estate planning, or you might be battling criminal charges.
Regardless of the specifics of your situation, the following are crucial mistakes that you should make sure you avoid during the hiring process for the best possible outcome.
Not Considering the Attorney’s Area of Expertise
Even within a larger field of practice, you need to make sure an attorney has experience in the area of expertise relevant to your case. Some lawyers can do fine working outside of their expertise, but that’s not always the case. Law can be complex and nuanced.
It’s a good idea to take the time to find someone who specializes in what you need, and you should ask questions about their experience before working with them.
Choosing An Attorney Because They Make You Feel Good
Personality fit is important when you choose an attorney. You also need someone you feel comfortable with because you have to be honest and perhaps even share more sensitive details about your life.
At the same time, if you’re basing your decision on who to hire on whether or not a lawyer makes you feel good or guarantees you a victory, it can be problematic. Attorneys need to be objective and honest with you, and if they’re over-promising, you’re going to end up disappointed. Plus, a good lawyer isn’t going to do this anyway.
Make sure that you’re clear with yourself about why you like an attorney over the other options. If it’s just because they’re telling you what you want to hear, this is a mistake.
Not Understanding How They’ll Get Paid and Their Fees
Different types of lawyers may charge clients in different ways. For example, a personal injury attorney negotiating with an insurance company will typically charge a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay anything upfront, and you don’t pay the attorney unless they recover on your behalf. Then, if they do, they take their payment as a percentage of your settlement or judgment. You may still be responsible for expenses under this model.
Before you hire an attorney, you need to carefully go over their fees, what you can expect with expenses and anything else that will be required of you as far as payment.
Too often, people aren’t clear on this from the start, and they end up with surprise bills, creating discord.
As with anything, before you hire a lawyer, you need to know what your budget is unless it is a contingency situation. Ask for a free estimate from end-to-end for your case because neither you nor the attorney will benefit from you hiring someone you can’t afford.
Ask for a written agreement about fees and go over it carefully.
Hiring the First Lawyer You Talk To
Hiring an attorney can be one of the best or worst decisions you make, depending on the outcome of your case. A good attorney can be life-changing in many ways. Don’t hire the first person you meet with that importance in mind.
Set appointments to meet in person with as many lawyers as you can.
The majority of lawyers give free consultations.
This is a time to ask questions, talk about fees and expenses, learn more about an attorney’s areas of expertise, and figure out if you’re a good fit personality-wise.
Don’t hire over the phone either. If at all possible, an in-person meeting or at least a video call is valuable. You can learn more about the person by observing them and seeing what their office and staff are like.
Similarly, don’t inherently go with the cheapest lawyer you can find. Yes, pricing and budget are important, but the cheapest lawyer might end up costing you big in the long run.
When anything seems too good to be true, including an attorney, it probably is. Lawyers that are good at what they do are highly skilled and trained, with extensive experience. Getting all of that isn’t necessarily cheap, so cutting corners might yield a poor outcome.
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