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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to Legal AdvisorHome Legal Guide Arrow to finding a lawyerFinding A Lawyer

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you." US Miranda rights.

lawyer in courtroomNot every legal battle ends up in a criminal court. Setting up a new business, bankruptcy, divorce, personal injury, making a will or getting an inheritance through probate, copyright questions, patenting an invention, immigration, adoption ... many "normal" situations call for expert legal advice.

Most people don't have a lawyer in the family or a bevy of high power legal eagles at their disposal. They search for legal representation by looking in the yellow pages or turning to one of those law firms with the television advertisements promising to "make the guilty party pay."

The Formula for Finding A Good Lawyer

The best strategy for locating a good lawyer isn't much different from the approaches most consumers use to find a good dentist, doctor, mechanic, contractor, plumber or other professional service.

"Your first goal is to get three names. Start by calling your area's bar association since most bar associations have a lawyer-reference service which can supply you with the names of lawyers who handle your type of case," says Carl T. Bogus, professor of law at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI.

Click Around or Let Your Fingers Do The Walking

You can also use the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory which is found in most libraries and or its Lawyer Locator service which is on the World Wide Web.

"This directory has white pages which list lawyers in specific geographic areas, the types of cases they handle and it supplies you with their biographies, too. Keep in mind that although firms pay to be listed in these white pages, many of the best lawyers are in this directory. A lot of the ambulance-chasing attorneys simply can't afford to be listed," says Bogus.

In addition to the white pages, there are blue pages in the beginning of the directory where lawyers are rated according to their competence and ethics.

Personal Recommendations May Not Work Out

Be wary of word-of-mouth recommendations, advises Bogus. "Clients can tell you if they're happy — but they usually don't know how well the lawyer handled the matter. For example, maybe the lawyer got a $50,000 recovery when it should have been a $100,000 recovery or maybe only a $20,000 recovery."

Call For An Appointment - Make Sure There's No Charge

Once you narrow your list down to three lawyers, call each of them to see if you can come to the lawyer's office and discuss your case. Let the lawyer know that you are meeting with other lawyers, too.

Here are some questions you shouldn't be shy about asking each lawyer...

  • How long have you practiced law? What portion of your practice is devoted to handling this type of case? How many of these cases have you handled? What is your philosophy for handing this matter? What gained or lost by going to court?

  • How much will this cost? How will you bill me? Most lawyers bill hourly or on a contingency basis, which is usually 25-40 percent of the recovery.

  • Who will work on my case? If it will be an associate or if most of your interaction will be with a paralegal assistant, ask to speak with that person and ask the same questions.

How clear and straight forward is the lawyer? What's the chemistry like? Is he or she able to explain things to you in a clear way or is the lawyer being evasive? As your matter proceeds, your lawyer will have to explain to you what he or she is doing and why. If the lawyer can't explain things to you at the start, it's not going to get any better.

Take notes at each meeting and clarify any points that you don't understand. You'll want to have a written record of what each lawyer said in order to review your options when you are finished with all of the initial consultations.

Make An Informed Decision

Don't jump to the conclusion that the lawyer that is the most optimistic is the one you should hire. Most lawyers are eager to bring in new business and that puts them in the position of having to sell themselves and their firm. A good sales pitch does not guarantee a good outcome.

Don't be pressured into making snap decisions. After you have spoken to the three lawyers you originally chose take your notes and review what each offers. If you need any additional questions answered, follow up with a phone call to make sure you have a clear idea of what to expect. Once you've committed, it will be difficult to change lawyers. You may not have a lawyer in the family, but you can make sure that the lawyer you choose will represent you as if you were related!

Source: This article is based on a press release provided by Newswise.

More about finding legal advice & hiring lawyers around the Web:

How To Hire An Attorney - Step by step guide to what to look for and what to avoid, including tips on how to negotiate fees, getting referrals, why you should avoid the 800-number commercials, and more, with related resources. - Online database to find more than a million lawyers worldwide searchable by country, city, or area of practice.

also see -> Tips for Getting Free or Low Cost Legal Aid

Help for Crime Victims

The information provided on these pages is intended as reference
only and does not constitute professional legal advice.


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