How Do You Choose An Attorney?
Living Magazine; January 2017 article
There comes a time in everyone’s life that calls for help from the experts. Just as you would not attempt a medical procedure without proper training, you should likewise not attempt navigating legal issue without the expertise of an attorney at your side. An attorney is invaluable for all sorts of scenarios – from drafting and reviewing legal documents to helping with insurance claims, taxes, business formation, and family law matters, among others. It’s best to have one ready when you need them. Here are a few methods you can use to select an attorney who is well-suited to you and your circumstances.
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First, consult with local friends, business associates, and family, and ask for their recommendations.
The best referrals come from folks in your area who have faced first-hand issues of similar legal concern. Another great way to find referrals is through civic and business organizations. For instance, a small business association or chamber of commerce would be a great place to start. Keep in mind that recommendations from a single person or organization only represent one perspective, so the more people you talk to the better. The style of a particular attorney could have been right for one individual’s matter but not for yours. Always get together with an attorney for an initial consultation to talk about the details of your situation and gauge their approach to determine if you think they’re a good fit before you sign any form of engagement agreement.
Additionally, there are many referral and rating sources available when trying to find an attorney. Browse the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Widely respected directories provide descriptions, extensive biographical articles and other details on law firms and attorneys all over the world, including peer ratings, which are a reliable indicator of a lawyer’s ethics and degree of skill.
It’s always a good idea to learn about an attorney’s number of years in practice an areas of expertise. It is also critical to ask about the specific practice areas to which they’ve committed the majority of their time. Specialized areas of the law are best handled by those with experience and education in those specialized areas. For example, if your legal issue has to do with adoption, you want to pinpoint not just family law attorneys, but rather those family law attorneys who have successful track-records with adoption cases.
Always perform a general check of the attorney’s background. Prior to agreeing to work with an attorney, it’s wise to reach out to the State Bar of Texas, which handles disciplinary proceedings. Also perform a general web search to get a sense of the attorney’s professional and civic activities. If you have any concerns, request a list of references and reach out to those references and others you may find who have worked with or against the attorney.
Finally, keep in mind that a lawyer is not just an advisor on your legal rights and position, they are a counselor and provide general guidance on strategy and possess specialized tactics to approaching legal challenges on a go forward basis. The best situation is when you have a trusted relationship with a lawyer who is willing to give you valuable guidance and point you in the right direction to increase the chances of success.
Choosing the right attorney can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or confusing. Selecting the right one is a great first step to a valuable long-term relationship.
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