The market is saturated with attorneys, but in this industry you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. While you’re (hopefully) getting a great lawyer if her fee is $500 per hour, that doesn’t mean hourly rates should be your sole deciding factor. Whether you’re scrambling to get an attorney in an emergency (never a good idea) or getting ready to research the best fit for you “just in case,” this is a much bigger deal than choosing a new nail technician. Your future might ride on it.
First consider the different practice areas of an attorney or firm and narrow down the list to what best suits you. Are you an entrepreneur who needs a lawyer who specializes in small businesses? Are you a frequent international travelers who needs a lawyer familiar with international laws or specializing in a certain region? The more practice areas a firm offers the better, but if you have unique needs you’re going to have to seek out a niche attorney.
Schedule a meet and greet
A quality attorney will offer a complimentary meet and greet for all potential new clients. Beyond their education, qualifications and background, you need to have good rapport with your attorney. This is the professional you may be spending many hours with. In severe instances, you’re trusting them with your life and well-being. If your gut is telling you it’s not a match, listen.
You won’t be given any “hard sells” or pushed towards putting down a retainer. Very few people actually need an attorney on retainer, but having met with one in person can make an attorney “your attorney” should you get arrested and need to make that phone call. An attorney is more likely to prioritize meeting with someone they’ve met then a total stranger who stumbled across their number while in a jam.
What to consider
Just because an attorney went to a top tier school doesn’t mean they’re the best (although it’s certainly worth noting). However, the saying, “A doctor who graduated at the bottom of his class is still a doctor” also applies to lawyers. Instead, focus on what they’ve accomplished professionally such as community involvement, their own passion projects and (if applicable) their success rate in court.
Choosing an attorney will take time and you shouldn’t feel rushed. However, preparing for worst case scenarios is a wise move. It’s like knowing how to shoot a gun. Hopefully you’ll never need to put it into practice, but should that happen you’ll be glad for the prep work.