5 Things You Should Know Before Hiring an Attorney
Hiring a lawyer is a part of becoming an adult. Whether you are a businessman or just a simple employee who has gotten himself into trouble, lawyers can help you deal with it. Although there are several legal matters in which you don’t need an attorney, there will be instances where a legal representative on your side will be of great help. This can include divorce, injuries, losing a job, breach of contract, criminal matter, lost claims, and many more.
Now, hiring the right lawyer is a completely different play. There are a few things that you should keep in mind while hiring an attorney:
1. Billing services
You should not hesitate in asking the lawyer about how the billing is done for the work they do for you. In fact, this is one of the first questions that you should ask while making the first call to the lawyer’s office. If you call the office of the lawyer and they are not providing you information regarding the process of billing their service, it is definitely a red sign. Also, if they can’t even tell you an approximate amount of what the service will cost, you need to be aware as, down the road, there might be some surprises regarding the costs. Also, you need to ensure that the lawyer you are hiring does not work on an hourly basis. They should provide their services on a project basis and must have a flat-fee. However, in cases where the Court asks them to provide their services for limited purposes, the hourly rate is acceptable.
One of the major issues that people face while working with a lawyer is that they are not responsive. In this aspect, lawyers have a notorious reputation. Cases, where the client doesn’t hear from their lawyer for weeks, are very common. The reason behind this can be insufficient administration support in their office. Some lawyers believe that they can take care of everything all by themselves, including client meetings, paperwork, returning phone calls, calendaring, connecting with the clients, etc. But the truth is that without any administrative support, a lawyer would just get overwhelmed leading to no response to your calls.
When you are hiring a lawyer, you need to make sure that they will respond quickly to their needs. You can test this by calling the potential lawyer’s office. If you are put right through or are sent to voicemail, you need to think twice before hiring the lawyer. It just means that either they can’t answer your questions quickly or they don’t have an effective system to manage and respond to calls.
3. Proactive Communication
This is another worse quality of lawyers where they are unable to maintain proactive communication with their clients. Some lawyers believe that the legal industry is transactional in nature they should contact the clients only when there is a change. But, you want a lawyer who will communicate with you at least quarterly either an email or a phone call. Hiring a lawyer who doesn’t believe in proactive communication means can affect your case. They are probably stuck in an outdated mindset which makes them incapable of serving your needs.
Now, if your lawyer answers your every call, it is a whole another problem. It means that he/she is not being efficient and effective enough. All good lawyers pre-schedule their calls to the time when you both are ready. It helps the lawyer in focusing on the client’s specific needs.
Today, lawyers have specialized training in one or more practice areas like bankruptcy, divorce, personal injury, estates, business, wills & trusts, employment, or criminal matters. Also, you don’t want a lawyer who claims to be an expert in everything. You don’t want the lawyer who handled your divorce to also design your estate plan. However, you still want them to be there to hear the story and find the right lawyer for you. Your lawyer still must have broad expertise so that you can take their consultation in all financial and legal issues of your life. Before you sign any legal documents or have any financial or legal issues, you should be able to call your personal lawyer.
5. Your future
When you are about to start a professional relationship with a lawyer, you need to ask them about what will happen if they retire or die. More than often, this question is overlooked. Yes, this might be a little uncomfortable, but a good lawyer and a client-centered firm will have a plan. It is their job to make sure that their clients are taken care of.
With the above-mentioned factors in mind, you will be able to select a trusted advisor who will make the best legal and financial decisions for you and your family.