When hiring an attorney, you want to make sure that you’re hiring the right lawyer for your case. Finding an attorney is easy. Finding the right attorney who will best protect your interests can be more challenging. Here are some tips of selecting the right one whether you’re looking for an intellectual property lawyer or someone to represent you in your divorce or any other type of attorney.
1. Finding a Working List of Names
Personal recommendations of attorneys are invaluable. Having someone share with you their personal experience with an attorney will give you insights you won’t find anywhere else. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend a specific attorney, you can use some on the online lawyer directories to start building your working list of names. Do note these sites won’t give you enough information on which you can make a well-informed decision, but they are good places to find some names.
Another way to to find some names is to do an online search on your legal issue. You can find news or business articles that mention some local attorneys.
2. A Little Due Diligence
Once you have a list of a names, you want to learn more about them. Doing an online search on their name should bring you information about the attorneys beyond what they’ve written for themselves on their website. Based on what you read, you can start to get a sense of their reputations and areas of expertise.
You also want to contact your state bar association and confirm that each name on your list is a member of the bar in good standing. You can also find out if there have ever been any ethics complaints filed against them.
3. What to Ask Them at a First Meeting
Hopefully, you’ve been able to narrow down your list enough that it’s time to meet with a few of them. Another reason why personal recommendations are so valuable is because calling a lawyer’s office as a referral will generally get you quicker attention than a cold call. Having said that, you should feel welcomed to make an appointment.
When you meet with a prospective attorney, you want to ask about their specific experience with your type of legal need. If you have an intellectual property matter, don’t be satisfied by the fact that they’re an intellectual property lawyer. You want to find out exactly what areas of intellectual property law take up most of their practice. If you want to protect critical trade secrets of your business, using an attorney who specializes in industrial engineering patents isn’t going to be helpful.
In addition to asking them to clarify and quantify the exact nature of their practice, you should also ask them about their success rates. This is particularly important if your legal issue may already be heading to court.
4. Finding Your Comfort Level
Finally, you want to work with an attorney in whom you have confidence and with whom you feel comfortable. Legal issues are stressful, so you want to select an attorney with whom you sense you can work well.