Hiring a Lawyer
Hiring a Lawyer
Every year, about 30,000 new attorneys join their colleagues in the practice of law. Deciding on the right attorney can be a difficult task. A potential client must be concerned not only with the lawyer's qualifications, but with the fee arrangements as well.
There are three basic types of fee arrangements that you and your attorney will discuss at your initial meeting: flat fee, hourly (non-contingent) fee, and contingency fee.
There are costs associated with defending or prosecuting a case that will be client's responsibility. Costs may include:
In many contingency fee arrangements, the attorney will advance all costs and expect to be reimbursed from the final settlement. Often, an attorney will agree to absorb the costs if the case is lost.
If you file a lawsuit and lose, you may be responsible for the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs, depending on the type of the lawsuit.
Money is not theonly factor to take into account when hiring an attorney; experience and qualifications are equally important. Just because an attorney has been in practice only for a short period of time, it does not necessarily mean that you will not receive competent services and/or attention. Often, an attorney just starting out has the time and zeal to give you the very best of his/her efforts. In specialized areas of law, it is generally advisable to hire an attorney or law firm with extensive experience. Do not assume, however, that a general practitioner does not have experience in specific areas of law; they are often able to look at the big picture.
Never hesitate to ask an attorney about their qualifications and experience. An attorney has the highest ethical and professional duty to his/her client. Attorneys are answerable to their state’s bar association, as well as to their clients for their conduct.
Talk aboutfees openly when you first interview your attorney. An open and frank discussion about fees, costs and services will avoid later misunderstandings. You have the right to insist on periodic updates and progress reports from your lawyer. Your phone calls, letters and communications with your lawyer should not be ignored.
No case is perfect, and no lawyer can guarantee results.
Never withhold information from your attorney, even if you think that it will hurt your case or make your attorney think less of you. Greater damage is done by what your attorney does not know than by the information itself. Remember, all information you give your attorney is completely confidential.
Learn as much as you can about the law from your attorney and other resources so that you can be a contributing partner in your case or legal matter.
Extend the same common courtesy to your lawyer that you demand from him/her; most attorneys are hard working and conscientious and spend as much time worrying and losing sleep over your case as you do.