Searching for a lawyer can often come under sudden circumstances. For instance, you find a house you can’t live without and need a real estate lawyer or you’re faced with an unexpected divorce or a sudden death in the family with no appointment of a power of attorney or will. How are you supposed to find a qualified lawyer in a sea of legal advertisements online? Selecting a qualified, competent, and ethical lawyer is easier than you might think.
In fact, it takes as much research, recommendation, and consideration as hiring any professional, such as a therapist, contractor, plumber, or electrician. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting legal representation:
1. Start based on practice area
You’ll need to put in some effort when it comes to initially researching an appropriate lawyer. For instance, you wouldn’t ask a divorce lawyer to draw up a will for you. So start your search by practice area—business law, bankruptcy law, civil law, copyright law, corporate law, criminal law, employment, environmental, family, immigration, martial law, tax law, and so many more. Be sure you’re seeking a lawyer with expertise in the right area of practice first and foremost.
2. Cost isn’t indicative of expertise
A good thing to keep in mind while you’re searching is that price isn’t always indicative of experience. That means seeking out a tax lawyer with the highest legal fees doesn’t mean they’ll save you a bundle on your tax return. That being said, choosing the cheapest lawyer available may well indicate inexperience. It’s your job to uncover things like expertise, experience, and competence by asking important questions about fees, client response, expertise, ethical practices, etc.
3. Background check
There are plenty of ways you can check the background information on a lawyer or legal practice as an average individual seeking representation. First, most legitimate lawyers and law firms will provide a list of client references. Secondly, the internet is full of reviews on almost any professional service so activate due diligence and read the majority of online reviews. Lastly, you can check a specific lawyer’s legal standing by contacting their disciplinary agency by state or region to insure no disciplinary action has been brought against them.
4. Recommendation based on reputation
Like any industry the legal community is abuzz with gossip, both true and false. If you know an attorney in another field of practice, ask for a recommendation. Most legal professionals will be able to recommend a lawyer with another specialization based on their expertise, competence, and ethics. If you don’t have a legal eagle friend, ask friends and family members for recommendations. If all else fails, check the peer review ratings on lawyers. These peer reviews are created from lawyer evaluations based on professional skills, judiciary standards, and ethics.