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How to Find an Attorney

Our book How to Use Legal Forms takes you through how to find an attorney step-by-step. In this article we cover the basics.

Most people do not work with attorneys on a regular basis, and can be quite lost when it comes to selecting one. Certainly there is no shortage of attorneys advertising their services, but knowing how to select the one that is right for your case is a skill that not many people have. This section covers the key factors to consider when you need legal services.

If your friends and relatives have used an attorney, and were satisfied with their performance, then they can provide a referral. You should make sure that the work undertaken for your friend was similar to the work you need, as attorneys have specializations and a good divorce attorney is not likely to be the best person to handle the acquisition of a company.

If you are a member of a trade or business networking group then that can be an excellent way to get referrals. Also, attorneys themselves have their own groups, and a local bar association can be a good place to find qualified attorneys.

Attorneys are quick to refer work to their colleagues when the scope of the case is outside of their expertise, and asking an attorney can be the best way to get a referral. You must remember that law has many specializations, and you want to work with an attorney who has experience in the area you are working in. Even within each practice area there are different types of cases, and you want to work with an attorney who has successfully worked on the type of case you have.

There are a number of legal directories available online, some of which have peer and client rankings. An example of a peer-ranking directory is Martindale Hubbell, which has a database of over one million lawyers and law firms in over 160 countries. An example of a client-ranked directory is Avvo, which rates and profiles every attorney. However, there are imperfections in both ranking systems; the use of directories should be the start of the selection process and followed up by a meeting and request for references.

Attorneys are becoming increasingly adept at marketing and advertising their services, from the yellow pages through to blogging, podcasting, Twittering, and even Facebooking! An important thing to remember when considering how to find an attorney is that the attorney with the best marketing is the best marketer, not necessarily the best attorney.

Be Satisfied

Taking the time to find the right attorney will help make sure that you are satisfied. A  Consumer’s Union survey reported that one third of clients are not satisfied with their attorneys. Some of the most common complaints were: lack of communication on case progress, failure to resolve the issue in a timely fashion, and charging high fees. Before you retain an attorney you should discuss your expectations in these areas of performance.

It is your job as a consumer to educate yourself as to what you need, and go out and find it. A Florida Bar Journal survey reported that people spent an average of less than two hours in choosing an attorney. Given what is at stake it is really quite ridiculous that people would spend more time researching which TV they will buy than a service that is going to protect their business and financial position.

Clients that understand the importance of the selection process go through a whole range of questions when interviewing attorneys, including:

  • How do you communicate with clients, what will you do to keep me informed of the case’s progress?
  • What are the likely outcomes from this case?
  • How much experience do you have in this type of case? How many years of experience, and how many similar cases have you had in that time?
  • Please explain to me how you have managed cases like mine in the past, the challenges you faced, and how you overcame them.
  • How long do you estimate this case will take, and what will the total fees incurred be?
  • How do you divide the work in your firm? What portion of my case will be handled by other attorneys and paralegals? Is there any way to secure a lower fee by structuring it differently?
  • What is your fee structure, and how do you bill for expenses?
  • What is your contingency fee structure?

Further Information
For further information we recommend that you purchase How to Use Legal Forms. To purchase just click here The courts are clogged with people who entered into agreements that don’t afford them the protection they thought they did at the time. Some of the most common mistakes are people using outdated forms that don’t take account of new laws that have been passed, and the inclusion of terms that are unenforceable under the jurisdiction that governs the agreement. The book How to Use Legal Forms helps you avoid these pitfalls.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the email mini course, which delivers more information on legal forms direct to your mailbox. Just enter your name and email into the contact form at the top right of this page.

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