While many of us have never had to use a lawyer before, it is likely that at one time or another we will need to find one. Whether you are looking for compensation claims or are going through a divorce, there is a vast array of reasons why you may need a lawyer. A lawsuit is a very personal and intense process, and it’s likely that you will be emotional throughout, so you need to know that you are working with the right people.
Some legal problems can be solved without the use of a lawyer but having someone to handle a complex case with money changing hands can be the difference between winning and losing. The power lies in those with the experience and knowledge of the system, so let’s have a look how you can form your judgment of who to pick.
Generally speaking, people these days are happier to take a recommendation than ring out of the blue. So ask friends and family, see if anybody has been through the same process and how the handled it. Check around the community depending on what the claim will be and ask people in the know to give you pointers and put you in the right direction.
The first meeting is always going to be the most important and, with many lawyers offering free consultations, it’s worth taking in a few of these. Go in with the idea of getting plenty of information; see how the lawyer approaches you, their background, the questions they ask and their plan of action. See who they know in the game and get a feel for whether you like them and you’ll be better placed to make a judgement.
Did they make a vast amount of notes during the initial meeting? Did they ask the right questions to you and understand your dilemma? This is crucial, because if they are fighting your corner then you need to be singing off the same page. See how they work with updates and whether communication is regular. Figure out if you can rely on them.
How does your lawyer work? What is his idea? All these types of people tend to be stereotyped, and not very nicely. Are you an aggressive or mediation sort of person when it comes to life? Like we mentioned above, it is crucial to be on the same page so work with an approach that suits you – ideally a middle ground between a slow burner and gung-ho lawyers.
So, we get down to the big question: what should you pay? Of course, depending on the situation, there will be a different fee involved. Figure out what your price range is, find out what people pay on average and work for that. Remember the old adage of paying peanuts to get monkeys and make sure that you are paying for the experience and not because you think that’s the price. The likely situation is that a retainer will have to be paid ahead of a flat hourly rate. Consider what comes at the end and you will be better placed to know what you should be paying. Make sure that you are paying for the experience and not because you think that’s the price.
This is a guest post by Rhian Farnworth.