Whatever the situation that caused you to be in need of a good lawyer, whether it’s a workers’ comp lawyer, or a top divorce lawyer in Texas, you’ll want to do plenty of research before making your pick.
You’ll be entrusting this person, providing them with confidential information in order to receive good legal advice and get through a process that you probably couldn’t handle on your own. While there are plenty of great ones, a landmark study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and American Bar Association found that nearly a third of lawyers suffer from depression, and 21 percent are problem drinkers, which can obviously affect their ability to practice.
To ensure you have a lawyer on your side who will be able to fight on your behalf and be the advocate you need, this is what you should look for during your search.
Expertise in the Specialty You Need
Even the best lawyer isn’t going to know everything about every specialty. Attorneys usually specialize in certain areas, similar to doctors. For example, if you’re dealing with a divorce, you’ll want a family law attorney. If you were in an accident and suffered injuries, you’ll want a personal injury lawyer. There are also lawyers who specialize in criminal law, estate planning, bankruptcy, civil rights, and many other fields.
Your first step in finding a good lawyer is to create a shortlist of those who specialize in the expertise you need and go from there. That list can include recommendations from people you know who have gone through similar situations, a Google search that includes reading online reviews, and/or your State Bar – some have find-a-lawyer sites available too.
Experience with the Situation at Hand
The more experience the attorney has in dealing with your situation, the better. You may be able to find out over the phone, but it’s usually best to schedule a free consultation as you’ll want to make sure the attorney is a good fit personality-wise too. Ask what success they’ve had with your particular legal matter in the past. It’s critical for serious matters, but if you have a simple situation, it may not be as important, providing the attorney has the skills to take on the job. New lawyers often start out with small, simple cases and work under the supervision of someone who is more experienced.
A good lawyer understands the importance of their reputation – they don’t cheat their clients as they know a satisfied client will refer their friends, it’s the best type of advertising there is. They maintain a high standard of integrity so that their past clients will tell others they are someone who can be trusted.
While integrity can be difficult to determine with a conversation, checking references will tell you a lot. You can check the state bar association website to find out whether or not the lawyer can actively practice or if there are any potential ethical issues. Checking references and looking into their backgrounds more deeply should provide you with everything you need to know.
Good Rapport and Communication
As mentioned, you’ll need to feel comfortable with your lawyer and develop a good rapport to ensure they can do the best job possible. The attorney should also have good communication skills that include responding promptly to any inquiries, whether by email or phone.