Hiring a lawyer may seem daunting to some people, but it’s really no more daunting than hiring another professional like a building contractor or a family physician. What’s important about hiring a lawyer is to find one that specializes and has experience in the type of problem that the plaintiff or claimant has.
As with other professionals, the claimant will need to do a bit of legwork to find the right lawyer. This means he or she may need to interview three or four lawyers before the best one is found to handle his or her case. The claimant can get referrals from friends or coworkers who have had cases that are similar to the claimant’s. He or she can also get a referral from another lawyer. Lawyers tend to socialize with each other, even if they have different specialties.
Most lawyers don’t charge for the initial consultation, but the claimant should find out whether or not there is a charge for the first interview. The claimant should bring relevant evidence and other documentation to the consultation. This will help the lawyer figure out whether or not he or she wishes to represent the claimant. Some lawyers may not want to represent the claimant for a variety of reasons.
The claimant shouldn’t hesitate to ask the lawyer questions. These include:
• How long has he or she been practicing?
• Does the lawyer mostly represent plaintiffs or defendants? This is important to know in personal injury cases.
• Will the lawyer personally handle the claimant’s case or pass it on to another lawyer in the firm? If the case is going to be passed on to another lawyer, the claimant will need to speak with that lawyer as well.
The claimant should then discuss the goal of the case. If the claimant is looking for a monetary settlement, he or she might want a certain amount with as little stress as possible, a larger amount than what’s on offer in as little time as possible or as much money as possible with no time limit.
The claimant might think a first interview is too early to discuss lawyer’s fees, but it’s not. If the lawyer agrees to take the case, the arrangement should be in writing. One good tip is to set a limit on costs and for the claimant to approve any costs that go over the limit.
One error that some claimants make is to hire a large law firm over a smaller one. They believe that a large and notorious law firm will intimidate their adversary. This tactic is more than likely not to work, especially if the adversary is a corporation as opposed to an individual. Also, a small case often has a low priority in a big law firm and can often be neglected. Lawyers in prestigious law firms are also used to spending lots of money on expenses and costs and that money will come out of the claimant’s pocket.
On the other hand, a firm with only a handful of lawyers will most likely give an “ordinary” claimant more time and attention. It’s important that both the claimant and the lawyer are comfortable with each other.
Having to hire a lawyer might not be the most enjoyable of tasks, but a little planning and discernment can make the experience with a lawyer be much less stressful.