Hiring an attorney is never something we truly prepare for. We simply don’t usually think about it until it becomes necessary. If you’re in the situation that requires legal help from an attorney, chances are that you’re either stressed, uneasy and uncertain what you should look for.
As with any industry, the quality of attorneys vary greatly. From the type of law they practice to their education credentials, even down to their compatibility with you as an individual – there’s a lot to consider when hiring an attorney! We’ve detailed a few points to keep in mind as you navigate your way through hiring the right attorney for your case. Here are five factors to consider when hiring an attorney:
Price (How much will this lawyer’s help cost me?)
It can be stressful to think about how you will pay for legal services, especially if you’ve been injured and out of work.
If you’re looking for personal injury help, it is likely that all attorneys you come by will work on a contingency fee basis. This is great because with this model, you won’t have any upfront costs of legal representation. With contingency fees, attorneys get paid by a percentage of your final settlement resolution. When hiring an attorney who works on personal injury cases, you should always feel comfortable asking how the fee structure works.
Oftentimes, before an attorney will pursue going to trial, a personal injury case will go to litigation. With litigation, your attorney will likely be working with an insurance company (car, Worker’s Compensation, etc.,) and will be paid through negotiations with the insurance company.
Out of pocket costs are important to keep in mind, but are oftentimes not a point of main concern when looking for a personal injury lawyer.
When seeking legal help in other areas, the lawyer you are considering should always provide you with clear information on costs and fees.
Always remember that that it is OK to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Legal services can be complicated and their can be a lot of factors involved. Make sure you are clear on what working with this attorney will cost before signing any documentation.
Some other type of legal service billing models other than contingency fees are fixed fees, hourly rates, conditional fee arrangements (CFAs), and disbursements.
Here are some questions you can ask when choosing a lawyer:
- Will I be charged for a consultation? (If so, how much is the consultation fee?)
- How do you charge for your service?
- Is there anything more I should know about the way your costs work?
- What is a “fixed fee” and what does it cover?
- I understand you charge an hourly rate. Are you able to provide me with an estimate of what my final bill will look like?
- Could my costs change and will you let me know if they do?
- Are there any extra costs I should consider?
- Do you offer any payment options to help me cover the cost of my legal service?
- How long do I have to pay my bill and when will I be billed?
What are their credentials? Level of Experience?
When researching attorneys in your area, you’ll likely want to work with someone that has enough experience to truly understand your case and how to get the compensation you deserve.
All attorneys must take many years of schooling and go through extensive training for their profession, but you will want to work with a law group that has enough experience to ease your mind and give you confidence that your case is in the right hands.
When considering working with a new lawyer, in addition to education, be sure to check out their full legal experience including bar admissions, pro bono work, and associations.
What is their Area of Expertise?
Along with experience, you’ll want to consider areas of expertise. You wouldn’t want a divorce attorney handling your Worker’s Compensation case.
All attorneys have an area (or select areas) of law that they specialize. So, for a personal injury case, ensure you research experienced attorneys well versed in personal injury law. Choosing a lawyer who “can handle” something but does not specialize in that area of practice can be very risky for your case.
Do they have a good Success Rate?
After looking into options within the area of law that your case will require and ensuring relevant work experience, you’ll want to consider their success rate.
It is always a good idea to better your odds in any way you can. By comparing success rates, you can get a better gauge on which attorney or law group may be best for you. If you aren’t sure what their success rate is, don’t be afraid to ask!
Will they Pursue Litigation or Trial?
Not all attorneys are created equal. Some do not pursue litigation or go to trial.
This is a great question to ask any attorney you may be considering working with. Litigation can be a costly and intensive process for law firms. In some cases, attorneys do not have the means to pursue litigation or trial and will have another firm partner up and support your case in that situation. At Pipas Law, we have the resources and knowledge to pursue litigation and take our clients’ cases the entire way to trial.
In some cases, litigation or trial may not be necessary. However, it is always good to know you have the option and that your attorney has the experience and proven track record of success in the courtroom.