If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, the attorney you choose can most certainly affect the outcome of your case. It is vital to choose a firm with experienced attorneys that make you feel comfortable and supported. Here are some important things to consider when selecting an attorney.
CHOOSE A LAWYER AFTER MEETING HIM/HER AT LEAST ONCE, AND CONSIDER MEETING WITH SEVERAL LAWYERS FOR AN INITIAL CONSULTATION.
Ask the attorney whether they offer a free, no obligation consultation, and whether you can meet in person. Before you meet the attorney, make a list of the questions you want to ask, and write out the specific facts about your case. During the consultation, take notes about everything the lawyer has to say and keep your notes. Pay attention to the lawyer’s communication style. Find out how involved you will be in the case, and how often you will be updated. Choose an attorney whose working style fits your expectations.
Also factor in your potential attorney’s approachability. Depending on the type of case, you may be working closely with your attorney and will need to feel comfortable sharing open, honest communication.
Take time to think over the meeting; a consultation does not mean you have to hire that attorney. You might have to meet with several lawyers before you find the right fit. Make sure the lawyer you meet with is the one personally overseeing your case. If not, ask to meet that attorney as well.
CHOOSE A LAWYER WHO IS CONFIDENT BUT WHO DOES NOT PROMISE SPECIFIC RESULTS.
Ask the attorney, “how strong do you think my case is?”
Be cautious of any attorney who guarantees certain results (a win or a level of compensation), especially at an initial consultation. Lawsuits are not a sure bet. Let your attorney’s experience, credentials, resources and record speak for him/her by asking the questions above and analyzing his/her responses. Remember, you should not merely seek to hire a great lawyer but seek to hire the best lawyer for you.
CHOOSE A LAWYER WITH EXPERIENCE IN THE ISSUE FOR WHICH YOU NEED REPRESENTATION.
Ask the attorney which area of law makes up the majority of the cases in their practice. Find out whether they have handled any/many cases similar to yours.
It is vital to choose a firm or an attorney with a background specific to the area of law in which your case falls. The laws of this country are complex and numerous, and verdicts are frequently won on the basis of small, case-specific details. Choosing an attorney with extensive experience advocating for clients in your position will ensure knowledgeable and efficient representation.
Raynes Erickson, Attorneys at Law focuses its practice in a number of practice areas. If you need an attorney for a case in an area of law in which we do not practice, we can refer you to a trusted local attorney that does practice in that area of law.
CHOOSE A LAWYER WITH ACTUAL TRIAL EXPERIENCE.
There are different kinds of experience; the skill of your attorney is not just based on the number of years he/she has practiced. One of the deciding factors of a lawyer’s true expertise is whether the attorney has chosen easy cases that never go to trial and are settled. You want the attorney who has taken on more difficult cases, advocated for clients at trial and won. Trials are the best way to earn applied knowledge, or the expertise that comes from actually arguing a case. So ask the attorney how many of their cases go on to be tried, how many civil jury trials they have completed, and what their record of victory is.
CHOOSE A LAW FIRM WITH FINANCIAL RESOURCES.
Being able to finance a case is just as important as having the skills to take it to trial. Most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay them until you are awarded compensation, either through settlement or jury verdict.
This requires a law firm with the financial resources to conduct necessary research into your claim (acquire documents, photographs, etc) and secure medical, accident investigation or other experts to build a credible and successful case on your behalf. If the law firm doesn’t look like it is built to support such costs, it probably is not.
Ask the attorney whether their firm frequently works with medical or accident experts, and if so, whether they intend to front the costs for those experts. Find out whether you are still responsible for reimbursing the attorney for costs if the attorney does not win your case. Ask if they are willing to take your case on a contingency fee basis, and find out how long the attorney expects your case to take.
CHOOSE A LAWYER WHO IS HEAVILY INVOLVED AND RECOGNIZED IN THE LEGAL COMMUNITY.
The respect of other lawyers and of the esteemed organizations of the legal community is of great value to a client searching for the right attorney. An attorney must have the skill and actual jury experience to be recognized by these organizations. Also, by maintaining a membership in these organizations, you know your attorney has continued to uphold the highest standards set by those practicing law.
Membership in organizations such as American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and awards such as the designation of Super Lawyer are both accolades to look for when choosing your attorney. ABOTA is a private group, reserved for attorneys who display skill, civility, honor and integrity. Members must be nominated and elected to the Board, as well as have attained a minimum number of jury trials and years of active experience before joining. Super Lawyers are chosen through peer ratings and independent research. Super Lawyers is a rating service that every year chooses exceptional lawyers from each state who have attained a high level of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Ask the attorney whether they are a member of any organizations, and if so, inquire as to which organizations they belong to and whether they have been honored with any awards or distinctions.
Click here to view a bio for Mr. Raynes, including his background, distinctions, awards and memberships.
CHOOSE A LAWYER WHO HAS A CLEAN ETHICAL RECORD.
Within the American Bar Association is the Center for Professional Responsibility. The goal of the Center is to promote and encourage high ethical conduct and professionalism by judges and lawyers. The Center operates the National Lawyer Regulatory Data Bank, which contains a list of all disciplinary cases against lawyers throughout the U.S. You can also contact your state’s bar court to obtain copies of public records of discipline for a potential lawyer. Find out whether the attorney you are interviewing has any record of discipline by the California State Bar or any complaints filed with the American Bar Association.
Raynes Erickson, Attorneys at Law focuses its practice on the legal representation of clients who are victims of medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, or wrongful death. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and how our litigation team can help you receive the compensation you deserve.