You would think it would be easy to find legal help. With 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, there are plenty of options available to pick from.
But not all of those lawyers are qualified to handle your case — and not all those with the right experience are skilled enough to win. This means you need to make your choice of a lawyer carefully.
If you’re hiring a lawyer and want to make sure you pick the right one, you need to know the right questions to ask. Below are six questions to ask when looking for the best lawyer in your area.
1. Are You There Lawyer Handling My Case?
If you decide to work with a more prominent law firm, the person you speak with may not handle your case. Firms like those use more prominent attornies for interviewing potential clients. Name recognition helps the firm stand out and land more clients.
But that doesn’t mean the person you interview with will take part in your case. In many cases, your work will be passed down to an associate with the qualifications for the job.
It’s important to remember that there isn’t a problem when this happens. The issue comes when you aren’t informed and work with someone you’ve never met after hiring a firm. Make sure you learn who will handle your case and speak with them to thoroughly vet your choice of attorney.
2. Do You Have Specific Expertise?
Working with an attorney with experience with your type of case is essential. There are many different types of lawyers — each with a unique set of knowledge required for the cases they handle.
Take an accident case, for instance. If you’re on a motorcycle and get into a crash, you’ll need to work with a local motorcycle accident attorney with experience dealing with insurance companies and local road laws. An attorney with malpractice or slip-and-fall experience may not know those things and can’t properly help you.
Check how many cases like yours a lawyer has handled and their success rate. When you hire someone with a history of winning similar cases, you’re setting yourself up for a successful accident claim.
3. Have You Gone to Trial?
Some accident cases aren’t open and shut. Despite having plenty of evidence to support your claim, insurance companies and other parties don’t play ball and do whatever possible to avoid paying what they owe.
If the party believes it will save money going to trial, your case may go to court. This is a problem if you have an accident attorney hesitant to head to trial.
An experienced trial lawyer will be able to help you when this happens. You’ll be able to navigate the legal system more efficiently and make sure you get the settlement you deserve.
And if you hire a lawyer with a history of winning trial cases, you may be even more likely to get a settlement without heading to a courtroom.
4. How Do You Communicate?
Working with a great communicator is a must when hiring legal services. Since you’re already dealing with a lot of stress, you don’t want to get stuck with an attorney you barely hear from.
Make sure you ask how a lawyer communicates during your case. Will they take phone calls, text messages, or emails? Think of your preferences and see if an attorney will meet your needs.
Of course, an attorney may not be able to respond immediately — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a quick response. Ideally, hire an attorney with a response time of under 24 hours.
5. What Are Your Fees?
Understanding legal fee structures is important to avoid paying too many attorney fees. You probably already know about hourly work and service-based fees. Hourly and service work is excellent if you only need help filling out a few forms or need quick advice — but these fee structures don’t work well when you have a complicated case and need a lot of help.
You can spend all your money on legal fees if you work with a lawyer hourly. To avoid this problem, look for an attorney that charges on a contingency.
A contingency fee structure means you don’t need to pay your attorney upfront. Instead, you’ll only pay lawyer fees if you win your case. Your attorney will take their fee from a percentage of your settlement amount.
This means you have no real risk of hiring a lawyer since you won’t pay anything if you don’t win.
6. Do You Have References?
Although you can learn much about a lawyer and firm by speaking with its representatives, it’s hard to learn everything. You won’t hear all the bad things about a lawyer if you only stick with what someone says about their legal expertise.
That’s why it makes sense to speak with previous clients. Ask an attorney if previous clients are willing to vouch for their abilities.
It’s also possible to check the internet for this information. Use Google and other review websites to see what people say about a lawyer’s services.
Do Your Research When Hiring a Lawyer
Dealing with the legal case is hard enough on its own. You have to deal with gathering documentation, dealing with other parties, and potentially recovering from an injury. The last thing you want is to deal with unexpected legal trouble because you can’t get a proper settlement.
This is why you need to take care when hiring a lawyer. The wrong choice means you’ll become even more stressed when your legal help doesn’t deliever results. Ask the questions above to vet your lawyer choices and hire the person with the best legal expertise.
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