Unless you run a business, are extremely wealthy, or have some other unusual reason to do so, you probably do not have a lawyer on retainer. For most of us, finding a lawyer is something that we’ll do only when we need to — and that can make the process hectic and confusing. We aren’t experts in law or in lawyers, so how can we find the right person to handle our case? Never fear: here’s what you need to know about finding the right lawyer right now.
Your case and their specialty
As you no doubt already know, there are a lot of different types of lawyers out there. There are criminal defense lawyers, tax lawyers, and personal injury lawyers, to name just a few. And just as you wouldn’t want to have a brain surgeon tackle your foot warts, you won’t want to have a criminal lawyer handling your personal injury lawsuit.
So your first step to finding a great lawyer is a very simple one: you need to figure out what kind of lawyer you actually need. If you’re worried about being arrested or already have been, then you need a criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own and are trying to recover damages, you need a personal injury lawyer.
Phone a friend
There are a lot of ways to find out which lawyers have great reputations without relying on word of mouth. But if you do have a friend or family member that has walked this path before you, now is a great time to pick their brain! Ask them about their experience with any and all lawyers that they spoke to, and see what sort of general advice they have about the hunt.
You may find that this is the end of your search, as a compelling recommendation from a trusted friend is simply invaluable.
Check online listings and reviews
No friends or family members with relevant experience? No problem: you can still find what you’re looking for by relying on online resources.
Head to your local bar association’s website for a list of reputable law firms in your area. Use online review sites to narrow the field down. Check attorneys’ websites for information about their education and relevant areas of expertise, and perform a quick Google search to see if the law firm’s name is attached to any impressive cases or any upsetting PR miststeps.
Ask the right questions
A consultation is an attorney’s chance to decide if they want to take you on as a client. But it is also your chance to decide if you want to work with an attorney. So ask some questions and learn a bit more about how the law firm in question plans to work with you.
One good thing to ask is who you will be working with most directly. In some law firms, you’ll be in contact with the same lawyer that you see on the sign. Other firms may have you chatting with associates and other employees, with the headlining lawyer more or less sequestered behind the scenes.
You’ll want to get a sense of how you’ll be treated at this law firm, explains Maryam Parman, an attorney whose skills and good client relationships have earned her the nickname “Superwoman Super Lawyer.”
If you take your time and narrow down your list of possibilities carefully, you might find that the perfect attorney for you is the very first one that you consult with. If not, just keep looking. You’ll get further and better understand your legal options if you work with the right attorney.