When you hear the word “attorney” what do you think of? Honest, true, hard-working? Probably not, in fact when most people think of an attorney they picture a fat balding little man with powerfully foul smelling cigars and an evil laugh. They picture him taking all their money and not doing anything for them.
Sadly, there are attorneys out there that fit the description of greedy and money hungry. However, there are also good knowledgeable attorneys out there who are willing to work with you on payment plans and ways to keep fees to a minimum. Here are a few tips that can help you choose an attorney wisely.
1). Never just pick one. There are times in life when it doesnt matter what you choose (i.e. a red or blue gum ball, what to have for dinner). Choosing an attorney is NOT one of those decisions. Do not under any circumstances, pick an attorney out of the phone book and just “go with it.” Tthat is probably the worst way to pick an attorney because you have no idea what you are getting. This is also true because a smart attorney will have you sign and/or fill out a client engagement letter. Once you sign the letter you are contracted to that attorney and he or she has the right to charge you for any work done.
2). Research is your friend. Most people hate to research things, because it can be time consuming. However, it is absolutely imperative that you research the attorney you are considering choosing. Ask friends, family, co-workers even your waitress if they know a good attorney or if they have heard of the attorney you are considering. You can also call the Bar Association in your state. That’s right people, do not be afraid to call the bar association for your state. They have active records about the attorneys listed for their state and can give your accurate information about them (i.e. complaints and praises). You can also go to your local courthouse. This is especially true if you are living in a small town. Clerks at the courthouse have first hand interaction with the attorneys because they must file all legal actions through the court house. So talk to them and see who they say is a nice attorney.
3). Talk to several differing attorneys to get accurate price quotations before you choose just one. It is never a good idea to go with the first one that quotes you a price. The only exception to that is if you have heard good reports all around from the general public about this attorney, and/or you know that the rice he orshe is quoting you is a good deal.
4). Avoid any attorney who will not give you a contract. Okay, this is basic if the attorney does not give you an client contract ( also called an engagement letter) DO NOT hire them on as your counsel. Attorneys are required to accurately set before you in a contract what they will do to best represent you and how much it will cost. If the attorney you are talking to does not mention a client contract during your first consultation and only asks for your money, you are better off staying away from him or her as it is a fairly clear sign the attorney is either a crook or not proficient and knowledgeable in procedure. Either way you are better off without them.
5). Follow your gut. Everybody has that little voice that tells them something is wrong. Nervousness is normal, but that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that is not. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the attorney then its best you look for another.
In conclusion, these 5 simple steps can help you choose an attorney that is right for you. Remember that an attorney should always be upfront and honest with you, and should never sugar coat the truth. When talking about your legal rights, you never want anything sugar coated, you need to know what’s happening, what can and will happen and what (if anything) you can do about it. If you follow these steps, they can help you choose the right attorney a lot easier.