Like any other big decision, you should approach choosing an attorney wisely. You will be sharing confidential information with this person, but you will also be entrusting them to offer you proper legal advice and guide you through a situation you wouldn’t be able to navigate on your own.

From qualifications and cost, to the area of law and location, there are several aspects to thoroughly go over before selecting the attorney that is best for you and your legal situation.

What area of law do you need?

Most lawyers specialize in certain areas, somewhat like doctors. Some cover real estate law, while others pursue business, family, immigration, employment, accident/injury, bankruptcy, criminal, or civil rights law. Smaller communities see more general practitioners because there is limited legal help in the area. These attorneys are open to a wide range of situations, in which case they are referred to as general practice attorneys. 

Expense and billing

Ultimately, cost will be a huge factor when you’re choosing an attorney. How much are you willing to spend?. You can gather this information beforehand by asking the lawyer for a quote, as well as how they bill their clients. It could be an hourly fee, a flat rate, a contingency fee, a negotiable fee, or possibly even a retainer for future fees.

Find out if the fee includes expenses (such as shipping, filing, and travel) because these costs are not always treated the same and could be billed separately.

If you are not satisfied with the quote or the cost does not suit your budget, shop around and ask the same questions. When you do settle on a firm or a lawyer, always make sure the cost terms are clear and don’t be afraid to talk about price, so there are no surprises. You may even wish to confirm all costs in a written agreement.

Availability

Does the lawyer you want to hire have enough time to dedicate to your case? How heavy is their caseload? Can they take on your case immediately? These are important questions to ask if you plan on being in contact with the attorney often. If they appear to be overworked, consider looking for someone else who has the time to attend to your needs.

Communication & Compatibility 

You want to find someone that is trustworthy and makes you feel comfortable. Mutual respect is also important. A lawyer who will work hard for you, exercise good judgment, and be thorough and thoughtful in the process is a valuable asset. Establish proactive communication at the beginning. Discuss your preferred form of communication and  hours, so you are both on the same page. This will prevent missed meetings or phone calls. Talk about regular check-in times to discuss updates and ask questions. A good attorney will also take the time to explain complicated matters, provide you with understandable advice on your situation, and present you with an array of options or solutions to mull over before deciding on a plan of action.

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