How do you decide which lawyer is best equipped to help you resolve your legal troubles? Do you choose based on recommendations? Do you rely on online reviews and testimonials? Those are all well and good, but you also need to be able to make that judgment yourself.
There are many areas and subareas of law. Before you can choose a specific attorney, you have to narrow down the pool to only the relevant specialists. If you need help, you might consult a general advisor such as your family lawyer, your accountant (if it’s a business issue), etc. however, don’t fall into the trap of letting a generalist handle the issue for the sake of convenience. No amount of goodwill and familiarity can make up for actual qualifications. A specialist lawyer will be up-to-date with all the developments in that particular niche of law. They will recognize the specifics which apply to you and which might trip you up. Such an awareness of nuances could be what makes or breaks your case.
Inquire after your potential attorney’s portfolio, references, and testimonials from past clients. Look at their website and social pages. They need to have a track record of successfully resolving your kind of problem.
An attorney with sufficient experience will have the resulting wisdom as well. They will know what kinds of obstacles to expect and how to handle their opponents. They will tailor their strategy to your circumstances and help you navigate the whole process.
The factors to take into account when evaluating a lawyer’s experience include:
- Number of years in active service
- Number of cases in the relevant specialty
- Prior results in said cases (both successful and not)
- Geographic area of operation
A lawyer’s area of operation is essential. You need much more than a firm from a major city; you need someone who has had intimate contact with your nuclear territory, as it were. So, let’s say you need an attorney in the Sydney area. Where in Sydney? If you live and operate in Blacktown, you want a Greater Western legal office. The same lawyer will be practically useless if you are based in The City. In that case, lawyers in Sydney CBD are a better choice. This might seem nit picky, but it actually heavily impacts your chance of winning your case.
An attorney who knows your region also knows all its quirks. They will be familiar with the specific local regulations, procedures, and the nuances of your community. They will have a better handle on the administrators and judicial authorities in your area, and their reputation may further play in your favour. Most importantly, a local lawyer is easier to reach on short notice. In times of legal trouble, live communication tends to be more effective than emails, phone calls, or videoconferencing. You want your specialist to be able to visit any relevant locations (and people) in the shortest possible time.
Accessibility and communication
Tying into our previous point, you want to be able to reach your lawyer whenever you need them. Establish several channels of communication. Have their office phone number, business email address, and a number at which you can call or text them directly in emergencies. They also have to be powerful communicators. Remember, your attorney is your voice to the opposing side, the involved authorities, and the ones sitting in judgement. Even more importantly, they have to communicate well with you. They should be proactive about keeping you in the loop. They must be patient and clear when answering your questions. When you have to act, they must give succinct and understandable explanations of your options, their pros and cons, and any possible consequences.
Fees and arrangements
Finally, don’t shy away from discussing costs. Ask your lawyer to explain their fees, how they calculate them, and billing procedures. Most attorneys bill by the hour, but also offer reduced rates for large volumes of work. Alternative billing plans are also often available. Make sure to clarify any additional charges, such as travel costs, postage, providing and/ or handling documents, consulting other experts etc.
Choosing the right attorney for your needs can seem overwhelming and tedious. Don’t let that impression sabotage you. It is an exceedingly important process, so take the time to do it right. Investing that effort upfront will spare you many headaches down the road, no matter what kind of issue you are facing.
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