Contrary to popular opinion, hiring legal services is not always a call for legal trouble. What am I saying? The law is diverse, setting its roots in almost every facet of society, so, believe it or not, everyone needs a lawyer at some point in their lives. Whether you’re looking to start a business, draft a will or sign a prenup, you’ll find having experienced and qualified legal personnel in your corner beneficial. While finding a legal firm to represent your interests sounds as easy as logging online to browse your options, hiring the right fit is more complex. Law is a typically challenging and sensitive subject, and sometimes a mere understanding of the legal statutes is not enough.
Five essential factors to consider when hiring a law firm
When scouting a law firm, going for the best in the game or paying top dollar is not always a guarantee of the best representation; there’s a lot of nitty-gritty that goes into it. Ideally, the whole exercise goes well beyond understanding legal jargon and technicalities down to a healthy attorney-client representation. Therefore, a criterion to weed through the pool of law firms in the market today is highly crucial. Below we dissect five factors to consider before hiring a law firm.
Where is the firm located? While there are thousands of reputable firms across the globe, their accessibility is a deal-breaker for most clients. It is essential to find a law firm that practices within your locality for two reasons. First, attorneys practicing within your state are easier to locate and contact. Second, most laws vary from state to state, and though some lawyers practice in more than one region, a local law firm is more likely to be well versed with your respective state statutes and codes. We don’t mean you need to exclude external firms completely; however, an accessible law firm sounds more practical when dealing with a time-sensitive case.
Background and history
Now that your law firm search is refined to your locality, it’s time to dive into the firms’ track records. Look into each firm’s history with their employees and clients; this often gives you an excellent insight into who you’ll be working with. As a non-disclosure agreement confines most law firms to their clients, their website makes a great hunting ground for reviews, references, and rankings. Scour through the firm’s background info to learn a thing or two about them; their history, objectives, achievements, and services- this information will help you gauge and align your legal issues against the firm’s interests. Alternatively, you can ask the firm about their settlement and trial record to gain some input.
Is the law firm you’re looking to hire familiar with your case? Specialization is a significant priority when choosing a law firm to represent you. Reputable firms undoubtedly house tens or hundreds of lawyers; however, you need to understand that each lawyer specializes in their field. What does this mean? A personal injury lawyer might not be the right fit for a medical malpractice case. It is, therefore, essential to inquire about the firm’s experience with cases like your own; this will save you lots of time and money. On top of specialization, we advise looking for experience in your law firm, finding out how many similar cases they’ve taken and what was their success rate; this will better brace you for the outcome.
Communication is vital when hiring a law firm. We’re talking about availability, responsiveness, and professionalism. How easily can you reach the law firm? How fast is the firm with updates and feedback on your case? What’s the firm’s tone when communicating with their clients? All these little details give you a feel of what’s to come. Set up a call or consultation meeting with the firm you’re looking to hire and raise any questions or concerns you may have regarding the case; this moment is very telling in determining how comfortable you’ll be working with the firm. Also, consult with your attorneys on the best communication channel before signing a retainer.
Let’s talk about rates. Most advocates bill their clients by deposits, recoupments, or an hourly rate. You’d want to consult with your lawyer on their billing rates to avoid surprises. It is also imperative to ask for a fee schedule to know what you’ll be paying for at the end of it all. If your lawyer cannot provide you with a fee schedule, ensure you ask them for a service estimate so you can gauge what you’ll be paying. Another tip is discussing the mode of payment- do you have to pay in cash or wired transfers, and credit card billing is acceptable. It’s also best to avoid hiring a law firm beyond your budget to avoid future misunderstandings.
Hiring a law firm isn’t an overnight trip; it requires patience and analytical thinking. Take the time to figure out what you’re looking for in a firm and align those requirements with the available options. It’s also important to consider the above mentioned factors before signing any dotted lines. A good law firm should be an investment so don’t feel pressured to rush into making such a critical decision- take your time. However, suppose you can’t afford the luxury of time, we recommend working with references and capitalizing on firm reputations more than anything, but above all else, trust your gut.