Friday, September 30, 2011

Tip 10

Realize that if the lawyer seems too good to be true, (s)he probably is.  In every profession there are a few bad people and the legal profession is no exception.  While most lawyers are honest, you should still take care to be sure the one you choose has a good reputation.  Use Google to search for the lawyers you have interviewed.  When people are unhappy they tend to post their complaints online.  Beware if you are being told your lawsuit is an open and shut case. No lawyer should EVER guarantee a happy result in a lawsuit.  Every lawsuit comes with some risk.  If you suspect the lawyer is telling you only what you want to hear, you are probably right.

Tip 9

Expect good customer service.  If you show up for your first meeting and you are left waiting for an hour, it is probably not a good sign.  Your lawyer should respect your time.  Make sure each of you is clear about your expectations for communication.  If you call when can you expect a call back?  If you email when can you expect a reply?

Tip 8

 Ask about the risks.  Your perspective lawyer should tell you up front how beneficial legal services will be for you. Be wary of anyone who seems to be trying to upsell you based on fear tactics.  The purpose of legal support is too reduce your costs by reducing your risks of being sued up front.

If you are asking a lawyer to consider a particular case, the lawyer should be able to tell you up front how good any case is based on the information you provide.  Reconsider your case if more than one attorney tells you the case is weak based on the evidence you have to offer.  Most lawyers honestly believe they can overcome the weaknesses of any case they take, but you should understand the risks and make the best decision for you.

Tip 7

Make sure the layer has a plan. Once you have told the attorney what your unique situation is, before you sign an agreement, you should have him/her clarify how (s)he will handle my account.  Ask the following:
a.     Who will be handling work for my company?
b.     Will there be any other lawyers working on my case?
c.     How many cases like this have you and your team handled?
d.     How much time will you need from me to provide information?
e.     What would our first steps be?
f.      How long is this likely to take?

Tip 6

Be honest.  Truthfulness will help your perspective lawyer help you.  Honesty is easy if you need a legal service unrelated to a lawsuit.  Emotion can sometimes get in the way and encourage exaggeration if you are upset.  Set your emotions aside..  Do your best to be honest and accurate about your needs and your exposure.


Tip 5

Know your facts.  Write out the specifics of a case or of your long-term legal concerns so you can remember to cover everything.  Your lawyer will be glad you did.  Bring copies of any documents that are pertinent. Be organized and thorough.  Expect that the attorney will ask you questions.  In fact. f the lawyer you are interviewing does not have intelligent questions, be concerned. It is your attorney's job to know the questions.  

Tip 4

Meet with the lawyer before you make a decision.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation.  It is never a good idea to hire an attorney without meeting first.  You want to be sure you can communicate well.  Remember to ask if the lawyer you meet will be the lawyer who represents you.  Many firms have associates who do the day-to-day mundane legal activities.  Ask to meet your legal team.  People, in general, tend to work harder for people they know.  Lawyers are no exception.

Tip 3

Look before you leap and know how much you are willing to spend.  Ask what the fee is likely to be before you begin.  Like any other service, some lawyers charge more than others. A simple service like preparing a typical will or business incorporation filing should have a standard charge.  On the other hand, a complicated lawsuit may require a retainer and regular payments for a period of months or years.  Some lawyers take cases based on a contingency fee, which is a percentage of the award if the case is successful.   Other lawyers charge a flat fee for each service provided.

       Be sure you understand the fees before you sign any agreement for representation.  Additionally, make sure you know how and when you will be billed. Every attorney should be able to put your agreement in writing.   The engagement agreement covers the fees and other costs so you know exactly what you will be charged and when you will be billed.  Your agreement should cover exclusions as well.  The exclusions are important.  Read your contract carefully.  You do not want to pay for services you ONLY think you will receive.

Tip 2

Determine if the lawyer knows about the law specific to your needs.  The law is complicated.  It would be impossible to be an expert in every area of the law.  Most lawyers specialize in a specific area like criminal, civil, real estate, or wills and trusts - you get the idea.  Make sure the lawyer you are considering specializes in the area of law most relevant to your business needs.  Do not be afraid to ask hard questions of the attorney before you make a decision.  Ask for examples of similar cases to be sure the lawyer has experience and will not be using your hard earned money to learn on the job.

Tip 1

 Look for your lawyer. Any attorney licensed to practice law in your state can represent you as long as (s)he does not have a conflict of interest. However, it is not always wise to call the first name you remember. There are many online sites that will help you find a lawyer working in your area.  Here are a few:

       Remember these are just databases though.  They offer lists of lawyers in good standing with the bar who have agreed to be included.  Ask friends and business associates you respect for recommendations as well.   No matter how you find your lawyer, make sure to confirm the attorney is licensed to practice not just in the state you reside but anywhere you might need representation.


Hiring a lawyer can be scary if you have never had to hire one before. Every small business needs one if only to review your contracts and key business practices to confirm you are doing what is right. Like every other relationship, you want your lawyer to be a good fit for you and a good match for your business.  If you keep a few simple tips in mind, you are more likely to find the right lawyer for you.  

Here are some simple tips: