In many ways, choosing a lawyer is a lot like choosing a doctor. If your foot hurts, you do not go to an eye doctor. Instead, you go to a podiatrist. But not just any podiatrist will do. Most people want doctors who are experienced, highly rated, and conveniently located.
There are some major differences as well. For example, most people must choose doctors from insurance company lists. But a lawyer is always a matter of personal choice. Unlike a doctor, an attorney is with you through every step of everything in a case, so you will want an attorney who you can talk with at any time.
There truly is no substitute for experience. Just as you would want to go to a specialist for when you have a severe disease, you should speak with a car crash attorney for when you’re in a car wreck, a contracts attorney for when you have a contracts dispute, etc…
The attorney should have experience in that jurisdiction as well. Ben Matlock was a great TV lawyer in Atlanta. But his tactics probably would not have worked elsewhere. A good attorney knows how to adjust his or her strategy to better suit where the case is.
People trust the word of their friends or other people who’ve experienced something for themselves. The best attorneys have minimal or close to no negative reviews. One of the biggest complaints people have about attorneys is that they’re too busy to speak with you. The best rated always make time for their clients. They keep you well informed about what’s going on in your case, and they are very knowledgeable of the law and how it applies to your case.
Always look into a potential attorney for yourself. The best attorneys always have those qualities in their reviews.
How often you meet an attorney depends on the attorney and your case. Some cases, you only have to meet the attorney at the start and the finish of your case. Other times, you may have to meet the attorney dozens of times over a number of years. However, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean an attorney isn’t hard at work on your case. The best lawyers always keep their clients up to date. They’ll call you, email you, and some will even drive out and meet you at Starbucks if you want them to!
The state bar’s website is always a good place to start. They keep detailed records of an attorney’s disciplinary history. You can view for yourself if they are an attorney of good character.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into legal practice.