The first question that often arises when someone is experiencing legal trouble is how does one go about finding a lawyer? Unless they have a personal connection to a lawyer or a recommendation from a family member or close friend, searching for the right lawyer can often be a challenging and stressful experience.
One common method that many people use to find a lawyer is by doing a quick online search. The problem with this method is that it is very time consuming and does not always provide accurate results.
For example, if you entered the phrase, “get a lawyer,” into a search engine right now, chances are you will receive generic results that either direct you to a website with another database that you will have to comb through. Or, it will show you a list of ads of companies that provide attorney referral services.
While this may be marginally helpful, you will never find the right lawyer if you do not know the correct search parameters to enter to get you to the type of lawyer who can handle your case. For instance, if you are facing criminal charges, then you will of course need to hire a criminal defense lawyer since they specifically practice criminal law.
Now, what if your matter involved someone infringing on your intellectual property rights? Do you hire a business lawyer? Corporate lawyer? Technology lawyer? Or perhaps, even a tort or personal injury lawyer? Notice how searching for a lawyer becomes much harder when you do not know exactly the kind you need.
Additionally, the type of lawyer is only one of several filters that you will need to know before you can begin your search. You may find a lawyer who practices in the correct industry, but maybe focuses on the transactional side of cases and does not represent people in court.
Lastly, you will also have to find a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction (usually a lawyer who works in your area), and as a bonus, someone whom you would trust to do a good job.
As discussed above, a person will need to find a lawyer who practices not only in their area, but also in the industry and functions of the law that are required by their particular case. Once the search parameters are determined, then it will be possible to start looking for a lawyer to take on their case.
Depending on the facts of a case, some legal matters can last for years. A person should find a lawyer whom they are comfortable working with on a long-term basis, appears capable, and is someone who they trust will put in the effort required to obtain a successful resolution. Thus, the best place to start the search for a lawyer is by tapping into a personal network of reliable close friends, family members, and professional contacts.
Although it is not necessary, some individuals will look for lawyers based on the law school they graduated from and their professional accomplishments. For example, if a business is being sued for millions of dollars, they may want to hire a lawyer who not only has experience in the area of law that their case calls for, but also is one who has a proven track record of winning similar types of cases.
Aside from asking personal connections or trusting word of mouth recommendations, some other common ways that people search for a lawyer include:
- Reading news articles that mention firm names;
- Flipping through the Yellow Pages of a phone book;
- Taking down the number of a firm or lawyer from public transportation advertisements, television commercials, or billboards;
- Conducting an online search;
- Calling or visiting the website of their local bar association;
- Using an attorney referral service; and/or
- Asking legal aid services or non-profit organizations that provide legal contact information for free.
Given that it is the digital age, there are also some new ways to hire a lawyer online that involve more than just doing a quick search on the Internet. For instance, many lawyers have built-up a strong social media presence online. Lawyers now have accounts on social media platforms, ranging from LinkedIn to Twitter. This can be helpful to get a feel for their personality before officially hiring them.
Additionally, since the pandemic has made it more difficult to meet with people in-person, many lawyers are turning to video technology, such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype, to hold consultation sessions and to meet with their clients online.
One final method that an individual can use to search for a lawyer online is by registering for free and following the steps to be matched to the right lawyer on LegalMatch.
Phone Calls and Initial Consultations
The first step of the consultation usually involves calling or emailing a law firm to set-up a consultation meeting. Almost all lawyers offer a free initial consultation.
The free consultation is beneficial for both the lawyer and their potential client. It gives the prospective client an opportunity to determine whether they want to hire that particular lawyer or not, and it gives the lawyer some more insight to the case, so they can let the client know if they are not the right fit.
For example, the lawyer may practice corporate law, but they may only handle the litigation aspect of cases, as opposed to negotiations and transactional matters.
Though most consultations are usually conducted over a phone call, an individual looking to hire an attorney should have a few items on hand in preparation for the meeting. Depending on the situation, a prospective client should be ready to provide the name of the court, type of hearing, court date, the hearing notice document itself, and any other paperwork pertaining to the case. They should also be able to briefly summarize their situation.
Additionally, while this will be discussed in further detail in the section below, clients should come prepared with a list of questions regarding the lawyer’s services, their track record on similar cases, and so forth.
What Are Some Questions to Ask a Lawyer?
A person who is preparing to take legal action should know a few things before they start the process. The following is a list of important questions to ask a lawyer, so that the answers will not be a surprise once the case begins. These include:
- How does the lawyer charge for their legal services? (e.g., flat fees, contingency fees, hourly rates, etc.).
- Are there additional costs on top of their attorneys’ fees? If so, what are they?
- What is their strategy for the case? What are the pros and cons of that case strategy?
- How long does this type of case normally last?
- Are there other alternatives available aside from going to court?
- What type of experience do they have in handling similar matters?
- How often will the lawyer provide updates about the case?
- Is there any information or documents that the client can give them to help support the case?
- What persons will be working on the case and how much will they cost? (e.g., experts, paralegals, other lawyers, etc.).
- What are the potential outcomes of the lawsuit or negotiation?
How Do I Find a Lawyer Near Me?
If you are unsure about your search parameters and need to hire a lawyer immediately, LegalMatch can help.
LegalMatch is a proprietary business software that matches users with local lawyers in their area. Basically, how it works is that the user will register for free and present their case in a submission form. The website will ask questions like what type of legal issue is it and in what location is a lawyer needed. Users can choose their answers from a pre-populated, drop-down menu that LegalMatch provides.
Right after your case details are sent, lawyers who work in the related legal industry and selected geographic location will receive an email notification. The lawyers who were notified will have 24-hours to review your case information and decide whether they are able to take on your case. Those who are interested will respond directly to you with a personal message that contains their lawyer profile (e.g., fee structure, background, rating, etc.).
Users can then read reviews and look at each lawyer’s background to determine which lawyer or lawyers seem to be the best fit. Once you decide on a lawyer, it is up to you to respond to their email message. From there, you can schedule your free initial consultation, so they can start working on resolving your legal issue right away.