10 Tips for How To Find a Lawyer
With more than 15,000 lawyers in Arizona, you might find it overwhelming to select just one to hire, and you may not be sure when circumstances merit an attorney. For average Americans, a lawyer or attorney is more of an abstract concept — something they know about but have little experience with. Therefore, when it comes to how to find a lawyer, it’s normal to feel lost.
There is no shame in admitting you need help knowing when and how to hire an attorney. While there are thousands of lawyers available, they all have different skills and expertise. Learning how to be selective and weigh practical against theoretical experience is necessary. Additionally, understanding your claim and having even a rudimentary awareness of the legal principles that are applicable can help you narrow down your selection.
Thankfully, you do not need a tremendous amount of legal knowledge to find a suitable attorney. There are several methods you can use to limit your search, narrowing the list of 15,000 licensed attorneys down to a more manageable number.
1. How To Find a Lawyer: Know When You Need a Lawyer
Not every situation requires an attorney. Still, even when an attorney is not necessary, one may be nice to have. How do you differentiate between a problem that requires an attorney and one that does not? Many legal professionals can agree that specific situations may precipitate the need for a lawyer or legal counsel, including:
- Property damage
- Personal injury
- Potential financial loss or gain
- Business startup
An attorney can also come in handy when you feel overwhelmed or in over your head in a business or personal matter. Most legal situations will fall under the banner of criminal or civil law. Criminal actions almost always require or demand legal representation. Civil actions do not require an attorney, but legal counsel is strongly recommended.
When thinking about your legal claim, you need to consider the pros and cons of hiring an attorney versus going it alone. When money, reputation, or physical and psychological well-being are a part of the issue, a lawyer is almost always worth the potential costs.
2. How To Find a Lawyer: Understand Your Legal Problem
While there are thousands of attorneys in Arizona, they do not all practice in the same legal areas. Some lawyers focus on criminal law, and others base their practices on civil law. However, even in the realm of civil and criminal law, there are subsets of educational and professional focus.
Before you can hire an attorney, you should define your legal situation. Why are you going to trial? Are you facing criminal prosecution or suing over a personal matter? What are the specific circumstances surrounding your legal case?
For example, consider a personal injury claim. Personal injuries can cover anything from workplace accidents to car collisions to construction site injuries. The type of lawyer you hire should have experience with the specific set of circumstances leading to your injury. For instance, if you experienced an injury during a traffic accident, you should find a lawyer with traffic law knowledge.
You want to dig into your claim to find the most specific and identifiable traits of the claim. If you were hit by an Uber vehicle while cycling, for instance, this specific detail can help you find an attorney with unique experience and knowledge beyond general personal injury claims.
3. How To Find a Lawyer: Find Someone Local
When you facing legal trouble, your first instance may be to search for the top attorneys with the most identifiable names. However, this strategy for finding a lawyer does not account for geography.
Localization matters when it comes to legal representation. While an outsider lawyer might be familiar with standard laws, they will not have the same connections as local attorneys. Local lawyers know the judges, bailiffs, and other essential figureheads. While a local reputation will not win a case, it can provide you with an advantage.
When lawyers are familiar with the key players in a courthouse or negotiating table, they know how to argue. An attorney becomes familiar with the opposing council’s negotiation or argument styles; they understand if judges lean more conservative or liberal.
It is not a bad thing to select a well-known attorney; after all, you might not have much else to go off. However, make sure you are choosing your attorney based on their local reputation and not a statewide marketing budget.
4. How To Find a Lawyer: Consider Experience
People often choose a lawyer based on a billboard or another advertisement. Marketing is vital to any lawyer’s practice, but it only tells potential clients what the attorney wants them to think. While there is nothing wrong with considering lawyers with widespread marketing efforts, ad campaigns should not be the sole determinate of who you choose.
The primary factor to consider, beyond licensure, is experience. You want to look beyond the practice areas, but it is still important to select an attorney with the appropriate skills and knowledge for your case. However, skills and knowledge alone do not make an experienced attorney.
When choosing a lawyer, you want to find someone with settlement and trial experience. Personal injury claims, for example, are often settled at a board room table with back-and-forth negotiations. It is crucial a personal injury attorney can hold their own against well-prepared legal teams. Still, despite the frequency of settlements, you want to find an attorney with trial experience, preferably favorable experience.
A well-rounded legal team has both settlement and trial experience. You know your attorney is not only after a quick turnaround when they have shown a willingness to go to trial and win.
5. How To Find a Lawyer: Do Your Own Research
Too many people hire an attorney based on word-of-mouth. There is nothing wrong with seeking the opinions of friends and family to narrow down your search for a licensed attorney. However, you must balance your loved one’s opinions with your own research. Sometimes, a personal opinion or experience does not mesh with an attorney’s professional profile or reputation, meaning your loved one’s encounter could be a one-off.
There are many ways to validate claims and seek accurate professional information. Google is helpful to an extent. The search engine can bring up various lawyer listings, rankings, and reviews. You can weigh personal opinions against the opinions of others. Additionally, you can review the attorney’s state bar profile. The profile should reflect information about licensure, disciplinary actions, and other records.
Remember that a loved one’s opinion, while valid to an extent, is only the opinion of a single client. You should weigh their opinion against others and consider how their case meshes with yours.
6. How To Find a Lawyer: Find References
Individual research is an excellent way to narrow down an attorney list, but one of the best ways is to look for qualified references. A qualified reference is a professional with personal knowledge of the skills of a specific attorney.
Some of the best-qualified references are other lawyers. Lawyers know lawyers; they spend nearly every day working alongside various attorneys from various backgrounds. Additionally, lawyers do not like to lose, so they will rarely take on a case they do not feel confident in. Still, most lawyers will not turn down or reject a client without providing a recommendation for someone else more suited to the case.
If an attorney explains they are not right for your case, make sure you ask for a reference or referral to someone else. Most attorneys are happy to help when they can.
7. How To Find a Lawyer: Learn About Fees or Payment Structures
Every attorney has fees. The fees cover everything from the lawyers themselves to phone calls and printer paper. As a client, you need to know how you need to pay the fees.
Personal injury lawyers typically use a contingency fee agreement, which means a client will not pay upfront in most situations. This type of arrangement also means a client will not pay without a favorable result. The final fee is usually a percentage of the award or settlement, somewhere between 30% and 40%.
While contingency fee agreements are standard practice for personal injury lawyers, you should realize that some costs remain outside of the agreement. The additional costs for a case will depend on the attorney or firm. Some professionals do not include court fees or paperwork in the agreement, meaning you are responsible for those fees regardless of the case outcome. You should clarify fees and payment structures before you sign any agreements or contracts.
8. How To Find a Lawyer: Look for Someone With Excellent Communication Skills
Lawyers are intelligent individuals, legally speaking; they went to school, passed the bar, and proved their worth at the negotiating table or in a courtroom. It is normal to feel a little intimidated when meeting and speaking with an attorney. Any decent attorney recognizes the educational and experiential differences between themselves and their clients.
You want to find a lawyer that does not make you feel less than. Your future attorney should break down legal jargon and explain offensive and defensive strategies in a way you can understand. Additionally, as a professional, the lawyer should take it upon themselves to ensure you understand all aspects of your case.
You are the client. You are the one who has something to lose or gain from the outcome of a trial or negotiation. If a prospective attorney does not have effective and clear communication skills, do not hire them.
9. How To Find a Lawyer: Interview and Ask Questions
Once you narrow down your list of prospective attorneys, schedule a consultation with each. Most lawyers and law firms provide a free initial consultation, and you want to take full advantage of it. There are several questions you can ask, but only a few that are musts:
- How long have you practiced law?
- What are the typical cases you work on?
- Are any of your prior cases similar to mine?
- Do you have courtroom experience?
- How many cases have you won and lost?
- How do you communicate with clients?
- What is a likely outcome for my case?
Interviewing and asking questions of a potential lawyer can feel awkward. Still, an interview is the best way to find out if a lawyer is best suited to handle your legal matter.
10. How To Find a Lawyer: Consider Personality
You will likely spend a significant amount of time with your future lawyer. An attorney is not made from a mold or built like a robot; each professional is an individual with their own biases and personality. Because of the amount of time you will spend with your lawyer, you need to consider their personality before hiring them.
The attorney-client relationship requires trust. Unfortunately, people tend to dislike and therefore distrust people they do not mesh with. However, keep in mind that you do not have to like your lawyer for them to do their job. Still, ensure the attorney’s personality reflects someone you can listen to and cooperate with.
Learning How To Find a Lawyer Is Necessary
Learning how to find a lawyer is a necessary life skill. Even though you may never need a trial lawyer, there are times when you will need legal advice. From estate planning to real estate purchases to personal injury and insurance claims, lawyers are advocates.
If you are in need of an Arizona attorney, contact a professional law firm like MDK Law Group to set up a free consultation. With over 15,000 licensed attorneys in Arizona, it pays to work with those experienced in various civil and insurance claims. When you need a legal representative, one who talks to you like an old friend and is experienced in negotiations and trial arguments, contact the attorneys working for MDK Law Group.