Why Choosing a Good Lawyer Matters
We all hope the people we hire to do jobs for us – whether it’s a person cleaning our house or fixing our air conditioner – are doing what they promise to the best of their abilities.
You can quickly tell if those people did what you paid them to do. Is your house clean? The cleaner did their job. Does your air conditioner work? The HVAC repair person did their job.
Determining whether or not you’re getting ripped off can be more difficult. If a mechanic says, “this repair will cost $1,000,” how do you know they’re not just taking advantage of you? Maybe the repair should only cost $500?
Working with attorneys can be similar. Unless you’re a lawyer, you may not know how well they’re doing – or if you’re paying a fair price for the services they’re providing.
Some signs could indicate your current lawyer either isn’t giving you their best effort or is not up to the task of representing you:
- Doesn’t answer your calls, reply to your emails, or arrive at meetings on time
- Makes decisions about your case without discussing them with you first
- Has a conflict of interest
- Shows little to no patience, compassion, or empathy
- Other lawyers or the judge don’t respect your lawyer
- Unfamiliar with your case, such as not knowing details of your accident, or they make inaccurate statements about your situation
- Aren’t as experienced as you thought they were
- Are not being transparent about the condition of your case
- Make decisions you disagree with
- Disagreements over billing or fees
- Inadequate resources to take on your case
- You aren’t getting along with your attorney
All of these can be signs of an attorney who’s not doing the best job. Let’s look at how to choose a good lawyer and what you should look for in one.
Finding a Good Attorney
Finding the best lawyer boils down to finding an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer who can help you with the legal issue you’re facing. Here are some tips for doing so:
Look at Credentials
Every state has its bar association, which certifies attorneys. When looking for a lawyer, look up their credentials on your state’s bar website. This will tell you if they’re licensed to practice in your state and if they have any disciplinary action against them.
Look online at reviews from past clients who have used the lawyer, especially for the specific kind of legal issue you need help with. Reviews can tell you how satisfied people were with the lawyer’s work and how helpful they found their services.
Look for Specialty Areas of Practice
Lawyers may specialize in specific areas of law, such as criminal law or family law. Make sure your lawyer has experience dealing with the issue you need help with. Ask about any relevant awards or certifications they have or if they’ve been published in legal journals or publications related to your situation.
Interview the Lawyer
You can get a better sense of how the lawyer will handle your case by asking them questions about their experience and past successes. Ask them what kind of outcome they think you could expect and whether there are any strategies they plan to use in your case. Ask about their legal fees and how often they will keep you updated on the progress of your case.
Getting a Second Opinion
There’s nothing wrong with seeking out the opinions of your service provider’s competitors, especially when you’ve got a lot of money on the line.
If you get a second opinion from a doctor that’s mostly in line with what your current doctor is telling you, then you can rest a little easier at night.
Similarly, there’s nothing to stop you from getting a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer. Keep in mind this is a competitive business. The second attorney may tell you what they think you want to hear to win your business, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is entirely invalid.
When seeking a second opinion, deliberately frame your questions to focus the answers on actual points of contention. Ask for examples of their experience with similar cases or how they dealt with a problem like the one you’re currently having with your attorney.
If it seems like your case is moving too slowly or your lawsuit is stuck in one particular phase, ask the other personal injury attorney what their expectations would be for that phase if they were handling your case.
Things to Keep in Mind if You’re Thinking About Getting a New Personal Injury Lawyer
Switching attorneys is a huge hassle and can have negative repercussions for your case, but sometimes you have no good alternative options.
Clients are usually allowed to change their lawyer at any point in the process unless the judge believes it would unfairly and negatively impact the defendant’s case.
Your former lawyer still owes you client confidentiality, even if you fire them. If your old lawyer has copies or documentation that belong to you, they are required to return them. They are also required by law to cooperate with transferring your case over to your new legal team.
Consequences of Changing Your Lawyer
Before you make your decision, make sure you know the answers to the following questions:
- How much will you owe your first lawyer?
- How much will you owe the second lawyer?
- How long will it take for your new lawyer to get up to speed with your case?
- Is there a possibility that changing lawyers will be more damaging to your case than it would be beneficial?
Can An Attorney Stop Representing You?
It’s easier for you to fire your lawyer than it is for your lawyer to quit your case. You had to sign an attorney-client agreement before your personal injury lawyer officially started on your case. This agreement includes guidelines regarding payment and scenarios in which your lawyer can withdraw from the attorney-client relationship.
In most cases, your attorney would have to get approval from the judge in your case before they can officially withdraw. If the judge believes the withdrawal will hurt your case, they may not grant it.
Get a Second Opinion or a FREE Case Evaluation
Whether you have not hired an attorney yet or you have concerns about how your current attorney is handling your case, the Dressie Law Firm is here to help. We would be happy to discuss your case or give you a second opinion if you currently have an ongoing personal injury, workers’ compensation, or wrongful death case.
Call us at 770-756-6333 for a free case evaluation.