Each area of the law is very specific, and usually vastly different from other areas. Chances are, you would never find a lawyer that files patents in the morning and represents dog bite victims in the afternoon. Much like doctors, lawyers and law firms usually focus on just one or a few related practice areas (e.g. bankruptcy law or intellectual property law), so you could probably find a lawyer that only does patents or only does dog bites, but never both.
There are 4 major criteria you should consider when you try to find a lawyer:
1. The lawyer’s practice area or specialty
The first step when you need to find a lawyer is to narrow your search by area of law (also known as practice area).
Focus only on lawyers that specialize in the appropriate area of law. If you got a DUI, forget about the business lawyer that your friend recommends. You need to find a lawyer that has experience with DUI law.
2. The lawyer’s location
Now that you have figured out what type of lawyer you need, the next step is to make sure that you find a lawyer that is local.
Each state has different laws, and lawyers are only admitted to practice law in the state (or states) where they passed the Bar exam. So you need to find a lawyer that knows the laws of your state inside and out.
Also, it’s often a good idea to meet with the lawyer in person, so it’s much more convenient when he or she is close by. The more complex your legal issue is, the more important it is to have a lawyer that is close by and easy to interact with. For instance, it’s less important to have a local attorney when setting up your LLC than it is when defending against a DUI charge.
3. The lawyer’s experience level and past work
At this point, you have hopefully located a few lawyers in your city that specialize in the appropriate type of law. The next step is to interview each one and evaluate the lawyer’s experience and past work.
Pretend that you’re the boss and each lawyer you’re considering hiring is applying to be your employee. Ask the lawyers how long they have been in practice and what their previous work experience is like. Ask them about past clients and cases that they have worked on that might relate to your situation. You may also want to ask around for references and read reviews from previous clients and other lawyers online. Get a feel for each one and decide which lawyer is best for you.
4. Your budget
Finally, it’s a good idea to determine your budget and share it with each lawyer you are considering hiring.
Attorney prices and rates can vary drastically, depending on the lawyer’s experience level, the type of law involved, as well as other factors. (Click the following link for more helpful info about how much lawyers cost). It’s always important to find a lawyer that fits your budget because the bills often add up faster than you anticipate.
You should share your budget with each lawyer so they have a better idea of what you can afford to pay. Ask each lawyer how much he or she charges and how you will be billed – either hourly, flat rate, or on a contingency basis.
When legal issues arise in life, you always want to be sure to get the proper protection you need. Since the law is so vast and complex, it’s helpful if you know how to find a lawyer that can serve you best in a variety of different situations.
Anytime you can find a lawyer that meets each of the 4 criteria under the circumstances you’re in, it’s probably a good attorney to hire.