How to Select the Right Attorney

Selecting the right attorney could mean the difference between winning your case and losing. Even if the attorney is great at what he does, if you do not get along with that attorney, it could affect your case. Choose the attorney for your case carefully — and never visit just one attorney unless that firm has excellent references from people you trust.

Choose three attorneys who practice in the area you need for your case. If you slipped and fell, pick three personal injury attorneys — do not pick an attorney who advertises other areas of law. If an attorney advertises personal injury and family law, make sure that the firm does mostly personal injury. Set up initial consultations with all three. An attorney may offer a free consultation or charge you for the consultation. It is worth paying the consult fee to get a good attorney.

Discuss your case with the attorney. Pay attention to how he presents his strategic ideas. Be prepared to ask the attorney some questions. You will want to know how many cases the attorney — or firm — has tried or settled that are just like your case. You should also ask the attorney how many of those cases were settled and how many went to trial. And, for those that went to trial, how many cases the attorney won. An attorney who has only settled cases in not the perfect attorney. In the event that your case doesn’t settle, you will need to have a good trial attorney. The reverse also rings true: You don’t want an attorney who hasn’t settled any cases. You need someone with negotiation experience.

Ask the attorney how he charges. Some charge a flat rat, some charge by the hour. Find out what the attorney’s initial retainer fee is. Ask whether costs and fees are included. Usually, costs and fees are not included in the retainer fee. This should not be a major deciding factor in your decision, but it could be a tie-breaker.

Make sure you get along with the attorney. You should feel comfortable with the attorney’s presentation of himself and how he plans on handling your case. If you are not comfortable with the attorney, you may be less likely to trust him and may be reluctant to provide the attorney with all information needed to manage and win your case. You will be required to provide all manner of documents and information about your case. Some of that information may be highly personal, so you must feel comfortable with the attorney.

Once you decide which of the attorneys you like, then look at their fees. If you have a tie between the two, use the attorney’s charges to make a decision. Remember, the initial retainer may be low for one, but he will require a refurbishing retainer should he use up your initial retainer. If the attorney who has a higher initial retainer says he can finish up your case for close to the amount of the initial retainer, but the other doesn’t, choose the attorney with the higher retainer.