The internet has made it easy for us to perform some mundane legal tasks on our own, like for instance designing a simplified operating contract or filing for incorporation. But when you encounter a legal problem that is complicated or one that involves spending a lot of money, it is unwise to try to handle it without a lawyer. DIY(do-it-yourself) lawyering is fraught with serious limitations. This is because besides giving legal information, lawyers provide strategic advice and are equipped with the right technical skills to handle complicated legal problems. Here are several useful lawyer hiring tips that will ensure that you get the best assistance for your legal issue:
Locating the right lawyer
Locating the right lawyer for your particular legal matter can be a daunting task. One effective approach that you can adopt is to talk to your colleagues, friends or family members who have faced a similar problem in the past. But do not make up your mind only based on their experience. It is important to first meet the lawyer and discuss your case with them.You can only hire the lawyer when feel that you are comfortable working with him or her.
There are also several sites that enable an individual to connect with lawyers in their locality depending on the legal issue involved and their location. They provide a directory that has a detailed profile about each lawyer, their education, experience, charges and their overall legal philosophy. Other online resources such as martindale.com even rate the lawyers.
Experience is key
Whereas you need to hire a lawyer who you trust and feel comfortable talking to, it is absolutely critical that you hire a lawyer with the experience and expertise in handling cases such as yours. For example when filing for a divorce, get a lawyer with a lot of experience in handling divorce cases.
Firm size is important
The sizes of law firms range from single-lawyer operations to giant firms that have over 3,000 employees. The size of the firm you select will depend on your budget and the legal issue at hand. For example if you want to negotiate a new lease for your premises, a small firm will suffice. Note that bigger firms will often charge higher fees and will not give the same level of personalized services as smaller firms.
Do your homework before setting up the first meeting
Before setting up the initial consultation, it is important to do some additional evaluation about the lawyer you are thinking of hiring. Visit their website and note its layout. Check whether it looks professionally done and its content has substance. Also check the lawyer’s track record and how they fared in cases similar to yours. This information may be available in your local law library. There are also paid services that offer such kind of information. In addition, check with the local bar association to see whether they are licensed to practice law or they have been disbarred.
Ask a lot of questions
When you go to your first consultation meeting, ensure you ask a lot of questions pertaining to your issue and also the law firm itself. Find out the number cases such as yours that they have handled and what the outcomes were. Ask about which lawyers will be handling your case, how you will be updated on the progress, and whether they will promptly respond to your e-mails and phone calls. The lawyer should also tell you how often you will be holding consultations. Generally, the first meeting should be used to gauge if the lawyer will be responsive to your needs, which is very important.
You also need to ask how you will be charged. The lawyer can charge per hour, a flat fee or on contingency basis (which means they will get a percentage of the money recovered).
Study the engagement letter keenly
Once you are satisfied, you can then sign the engagement letter. This is a contract that clearly lays out all the details about the working relationship with the lawyer in regard to your legal issue- including the applicable terms and conditions and the fees you will pay. Ensure that you thoroughly read and understand it since this is what you will use to fire the layer if you feel that he or she is not performing to your expectations.