In 2020 there were a whopping 1,327,870 lawyers in the United States. That represents an increase of over 100,000 lawyers in the last decade alone.
There’s no question regarding the supply of lawyers available to help represent you if the need arises. The question is: which one should you choose?
With so many options out there, it’s important that you carefully consider the circumstances before you make a choice. Here are a few of the most important points to utilize as you evaluate how to choose the right lawyer to represent you.
Remember Your Position
Before you start shopping for lawyers, there’s one critical piece of advice that you need to keep at the front of your mind. You are the customer. Remember, your lawyer is offering you a service. Even before they’re hired, they should treat you as a potential client.
How does that impact the process of finding a lawyer? It puts you in the driver’s seat. Make sure not to allow a lawyer to push you around, belittle you, or pressure you. You should be able to evaluate and consider the service each lawyer is offering before you commit to anyone.
Consider the Area of Expertise You Need
Another initial consideration is the kind of lawyer that you need. For instance, there are estate planning lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, criminal lawyers, corporate lawyers, and so on.
For most individual cases, you’re going to need a personal injury lawyer. Even then, though, you want to understand what kind of personal injury case you’re asking them to help you with as well as the region or area that they cover.
For example, the legal firm Adamson Adhoot has offices throughout the entire state of California. Their team is equipped to represent personal injury clients in areas such as auto and motorcycle incidents, traumatic brain injuries, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death lawsuits, and other specialized fields.
This isn’t a secret, either. You can find this information right on the home page of their website. The same is true for many other firms.
Before you start looking for a lawyer, consider the geographic area that you need them to cover. Then try to narrow down the kind of case that you need them to take on. This will help you avoid wasting time interviewing candidates who aren’t right for the job.
Gather a List of Candidates
The next step is to narrow down your options. You need to whittle the list down from over 1.3 million lawyers to a handful of the best choices. Fortunately, there are a few ways to do this rather quickly.
Start by looking for personal recommendations. As is so often the case in life, asking for referrals from friends, family members, and coworkers is a great way to find quality candidates. You know that they’ve worked with the lawyer and were satisfied enough to recommend them.
If you can’t get a decent number of personal recommendations, you can tap additional resources, as well. For instance, consider looking online.
Don’t just read through the sales copy on a lawyer’s website, though. Look for reviews and ratings, as well. How many positive reviews do they have? How did they handle negative reviews?
You can also reach out to your state bar association for a list of qualified lawyers in the area. These may not be personal recommendations. Nevertheless, you can rest in the fact that they’ve managed to maintain their reputation in the public eye.
Come Up With a List of Questions
Once you’ve considered your circumstances, zeroed in on your needs, and created a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to come up with some questions. Most lawyers offer a free consultation, and it’s very much so worth your while to take advantage of it.
Use this time to ask your potential future lawyer a few important questions. You can tailor these to your liking, but a few common areas to address include:
- Their legal history: What is the track record and number of cases a lawyer has under their belt? How many years have they been practicing? How long have they specialized in your field?
- Their client preferences: What kind of clients do they usually work with? Are you a good fit compared to their typical customers?
- Their philosophy and morals: What are their philosophical and moral standards when it comes to representing others in a court of law?
- The size of their firm: How large is their operation? Do they have a big staff? Will your case be given proper attention?
- Their communication protocols: How well do they handle communication with their clients? Will you know about updates to your case in a timely manner? Will you be able to reach them with questions if you need to?
- Their overall experience: Do they have extracurricular (read: non-legal) experience that can help your situation?
- Their gut feeling about your case: Can they give you a prediction of how they feel your case will go?
- The cost: Don’t forget to get a feel for how much it will cost if you go with a particular firm or individual.
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding what questions you should ask. However, remember that time will be limited — especially if it’s a free consultation. Make sure to order your questions so that you ask the most important ones early with plenty of time for further explanations.
Take Notes to Compare
As you work through your interviews, make sure to write things down. Once you’ve asked your candidates all of your questions, take some time to sit down and compare your notes.
This is recommended rather than making a gut decision based on how you feel. Your gut feelings can still factor into the equation. However, you want to make sure that you’re not letting unnecessary biases, such as favoring the last person you talked to, enter into the equation.
You may also want to call your state bar association to see if the lawyer you’re considering has ever been the subject of disciplinary action. This can make a big difference on whether or not you’ll hire them.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
Choosing a lawyer isn’t a formulaic or predictable process. However, if you go about the activity with a strategic mindset, it can help you properly gauge your options.
So start by considering your needs and gathering referrals. Then create your list of questions and interview your candidates. When all’s said and done, you should have a solid idea of who the best lawyer is for your particular needs at the moment.