Selecting an attorney to represent you in any legal matter can be a daunting task, but it is an extremely important one. It's critical to "Get it right the first time" around.
Take the time to evaluate your attorney's qualifications and experience! Your selection may be critical to the outcome of any legal situation you encounter.
The good news is, what ever your legal needs, divorce, child custody, real estate, civil lawsuits, estate planning, criminal defense, auto accidents, floods, fires, starting a business, there are attorney's available for all types of issues and attorney's available to fit every budget. Patience and persistence can be your best friend when searching for the right attorney. For those who simply don't have a lot of time, it's still important to ask direct questions and do the best you can with the resources you have available. This includes "the phone book" and other options available.
Here are a few questions recently posted on our board:
- What is the best approach to finding a good lawyer?
- Can you help me find an attorney who is good, but affordable?
- What if I need an attorney and I don't have money?
- Why does it seem so scary and difficult to find the right attorney?
- What if I need to talk to an attorney and I am a minor?
For those who simply don't have a lot of time, it's still important to ask direct questions and do the best you can with the resources you have available. This includes "the phone book" and other options available.
It's Free & Confidential Use LegalMatch to Find a Local Trustworthy Lawyer in Your Area.
When looking for an attorney in your state of residence, it is important to first determine what kind of attorney you will need.
Just like physicians who specialize in a specific area of medicine, attorney's specialize in specific areas of law. Family law, real estate law, civil law, estate law, criminal law are among a few of the more common types of law practiced, however, there are many more. If you need a good court attorney to represent you at trial, you Dad's family estate planning attorney may not be your best choice.
The questions you should ask an attorney will depend largely on what type of legal issue you have. For example, if you need a criminal attorney to defend you in court, your interview questions would be completely different than the questions you might ask an attorney if they were representing you in an insurance law suit. Criminal Law attorney's are in a completely different area of the legal system than Civil Law attorney's.
In any interview with an attorney, you have the right to ask questions about their qualifications. You should ask direct questions pertaining to the experience your attorney will need in order to defend or represent you. For example, if you have to appear in your local courthouse for trial, questions pertaining to, trial experience, time practicing law, local ties and circles of influence etc..., are appropriate.
A few questions you might ask an attorney:
A few things you can check out on your own:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How many fields of law do you represent? (Criminal law only or other areas like divorce, real estate?)
- Do you routinely handle cases at the courthouse where my case is assigned?
- Are you familiar with the local prosecutor and local judges?
- Have you ever been a prosecutor? (If previously a prosecutor, this can be positive)
- Please explain your fees and what I can expect in a best case and worse case scenario?
- Do you have any unique licenses or certifications in the area of law pertaining to my case?
- Is the attorney a member of any professional organizations in the community?
- Is the attorney established as an instructor, lecturer, or mentor to other local attorney's?
- Do you routinely get cases assigned to the courthouse my case is assigned to and are you familiar with the DA and local judges?
- Can you get other lawyers or citizens to express an opinion of the attorney's competency in criminal defense cases?
- Are there any current or recent complaints or grievances filed against the attorney?
What if I need to talk to an attorney and I am a minor?
If a juvenile is charged with a crime, the juvenile has a right to counsel even if they can't afford it. A juvenile can not be bound by a contract to hire an attorney. If a juvenile obtains a court appointed attorney, the parents income can be considered in determining the rates or fees for the public defenders services. The court can't deprive the juvenile of legal counsel if the parents can afford a private attorney but choose not to hire one. The court can't force the parents to hire a private attorney if the parents income is such that it's considered excessive to be entitled to indigent legal services; the court may appoint a public defender and order the legal fees billed and paid by the parents or legal guardians.
Staff Writer: Sarah Frances