Did you pick the best injury lawyer? Here’s how to find out
Go ahead and pick up a copy of the yellow pages, if they’re still even delivered by you. Look up “lawyers” in the back. Depending on where you live, you can find anywhere from hundreds to thousands of them. Googling attorneys in your area will produce the same thing: page after page after page of results. Just like a mechanic or a musician, though, they’re not all top-notch.
Signing an attorney to fight for your justice after an accident is an important life decision. The right choice can result in you receiving the right settlement and peace of mind after a grueling recovery. Hiring the wrong one can be a disaster, leaving you worse off than before you made your choice. So how do you know if you’re picking the right one? Here’s a few things you can do to assure you’re in good hands.
1) Ask around
It’s likely that someone you know and trust has had to hire an attorney at some point. Chances are if an attorney acted professional and got good results for someone you trust, it wasn’t a fluke. Attorneys – human beings in general – aren’t programmed to act and perform one way for years sometimes if that isn’t who they inherently are. That means if an attorney is good at what they do for someone you know, it’s likely they’ll be a good fit for you.
Doing research online is helpful as well, but remember that opinion-sites like Yelp can sometimes be skewed. Fake accounts are easy to set up by the dozens to either inflate or deflate someone’s reputation. Those results can be helpful, but don’t treat them as gospel.
2) Your attorney and their staff needs to be there for you
If you never have the chance to speak to your attorney, or they are outright rude or hostile to you on the phone, it’s probably not the best fit. As stated earlier, there’s plenty of choices out there; you don’t need to stay with someone who is unprofessional.
That being said, it’s important you have the right expectations. If you try to schedule a conference call with your attorney, he or she should get on the phone or meet in person at some point. However, it’s not fair to expect them to speak with you every time you call them. That’s why they have legal secretaries and paralegals. You wouldn’t like it if your attorney was supposed to be working on your file but they kept getting interrupted with other clients. Have reasonable expectations of your attorney.
Still, though, if your lawyer refuses to communicate with you ever, it might be worth looking elsewhere.
3) Past results matter
In the age of the internet, it’s much easier to see how successful an attorney is. Most attorneys post their achievements right on their website, but there are also other research sites available where you can study your lawyer’s track record. If you have a specialized case, like a medical malpractice case, it might benefit you to find an attorney who has had sizeable verdicts in med mal specifically.
4) Know the different types of firms
This isn’t a bullet point saying one type is right and another isn’t, but it’s important to know there are different types of law firms. Some attorneys work alone and only handle a few cases at a time to concentrate on them. Others have firms with dozens of attorneys and they try to cast a very wide net. Some firms specialize in family law (as an example) and only take plaintiff personal injury cases occasionally as they pop up. Some attorneys have been practicing for 40 years, other just passed the bar exam a few months ago. One type isn’t better than another, but it’s a matter of picking a firm type that matches what you’re looking for. If you care about past results more than the personal touch, choose someone who promotes that on their website. If you’d rather feel more at home at your attorney’s office and don’t care if you rake in millions, then lean in that direction.
Attorneys have to pass pretty rigorous tests in order to even be eligible to practice law, so it’s not too likely that you’ll get someone who is totally unprepared to help you out. There are variations, though, and doing the research to find a good fit for you is key. Hopefully they’ll be able to get you to the finish line a winner.