Choosing an attorney could be one of the most important decisions you make, whether it’s something as simple as drafting a will or as serious as avoiding jail time. That means, you need to do a little homework before making a final decision. The good news? You have options – lots of them. According to the American Bar Association, there were close to 1,270,000 attorneys in 2013. The bad news? Not all of them will get you the type of help you need and deserve. Below are a few tips for finding someone to represent you, regardless of the legal situation.
Hiring a General Practice Lawyer
Just because you’ve used a particular lawyer in the past doesn’t mean he or she will be the ideal choice in the future. Keep in mind that different fields of law call for different attorneys trained within those respective fields to represent their clients. Hiring your tax attorney to defend a major criminal charge, for instance, would obviously be foolish, but it helps underscore the point. Once your case has been submitted, the appropriate attorney at LegalZoom reviews the case and proceeds further while addressing your specific needs and circumstances.
Ask Around for Leads
Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals. Ask your friends, coworkers, colleagues and neighbors to generate leads and recommendations from as many of them as possible. A solid referral may even allow you to save money by enjoying a discounted rate on their legal services. Regardless of the sterling reviews you might get from your friends and family, though, always do your own research before making any kind of hiring decision. If you’re still having trouble finding a lawyer, check with your local bar association. Most bar associations offer various services, including license verification, access to free legal resources and a lawyer-finder service, according to Consumer Reports. Some groups like LegalZoom, reviews the credentials and background of each attorney that it uses to represent clients. The more time you personally devote to your search, the more likely you will be happy with the results, according to Microsoft Business.
You could find an attorney that seems to sweep you off your feet almost immediately, having all of the knowledge and experience you need to have a good chance at winning your case. However, once they let you know their hourly rates, you might want to start crying. Knowing that there is no way that you could afford his or her long-term services, continue to shop around for competitive prices and hourly rates. Keep in mind that each hour that your attorney works on your particular case technically counts as a billable hour. Pay close attention to just how quickly those hours stack up over time, especially if your case goes to court. Those hours, and attorney fees, can quickly add up.
Don’t Get Talked into Something You’re Not Comfortable With
There are no guarantees when it comes to how a case is going to turn out for you. Depending on the nature of the case, it’s possible that an attorney from an establishment like LegalZoom, reviews your case, works with the judge and has all of the charges against you dismissed. However, things might not be that easy when it comes to more extreme cases.
The key is to take a proactive approach, meaning spending the time researching and carefully vetting out the best lawyer for your particular case. Go with your gut; if you feel like you’re being swayed into taking a direction you’re not comfortable with, you can always change course and find another attorney.
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