Are you looking to hire a lawyer?
Whether it’s for help protecting assets or fighting a DUI charge, people hire lawyers all of the time. While hiring a lawyer is often beneficial and necessary, it’s no secret that hiring a lawyer can be very expensive.
In fact, the average attorney charges between $100 to $300 per hour, and sometimes it’s much more.
Because hiring an attorney can be so expensive, it’s very important that you do your research to find the right one. What do you need to look for when hiring a lawyer?
Check out this guide to discover the top things to consider when hiring a lawyer.
1. The Lawyer’s Experience
One of the biggest things you need to consider before hiring is the lawyer’s experience.
However, keep in mind that the number of years a lawyer has been in practice only tells you part of the story. You’ll want to find a lawyer who has years of experience in a wide variety of situations, including:
- Federal and state appeals
- Jury trials and bench trials
- Pre-litigation matters
- A wide variety of settlement types
You also want to make sure the lawyer you hire has experience handling your specific type of case, as well as experience winning your specific type of case. If you have a medical malpractice lawsuit that you’d like to bring forward, it won’t do you any good to hire a lawyer who has spent the past 20 years working on cases involving car accidents. So, in this case, you clearly need to hire an attorney specializing in medical malpractice.
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2. The Lawyer’s Involvement
Hiring the best lawyer on the planet won’t do you any good if they just plan on passing all of their work down to their associates.
While lawyers can’t handle every single task that’s involved in representation, they should have meaningful involvement in the case. They should be the one who knows your case inside and out, as well as the one who makes critical decisions.
So, before you jump to hire a “big name” lawyer, make sure you understand how involved they’ll be in the case.
The reputation of the lawyer is another very important factor that you need to consider.
Thanks to the internet, it’s now easier than ever to learn about a lawyer’s reputation. Google My Business, Yelp, and other review sites can clue you in on the reputation of the lawyer you’re considering hiring.
Some other review sites to check out include:
- Better Business Bureau (BBB.org): This site is considered the gold standard when it comes to ranking a business’s reputation
- Lawyers.com: Lawyers can sign up for this website to list their services and clients can post reviews on specific lawyers
- Avvo.com: A newer site that is similar to Findlaw.com and lawyers.com
- Legaladvice.com: This site uses a weighted distribution system to rank lawyers’ websites
Another good way to learn about the reputation of a lawyer is to ask for recommendations from friends and family members. You can also ask the lawyer you’re considering hiring for references, but just be aware that these will be somewhat biased, as a lawyer will only put you in contact with their most satisfied clients.
The status of your case can change in the blink of an eye. Therefore, it’s very important that you hire a lawyer who will stay in constant communication with you so you can remain knowledgable about your case.
When interviewing lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you and how often they communicate with you. When you call into the office, are you able to speak directly with the lawyer, or do they pass you onto a legal secretary?
Do not hire a lawyer unless you’re certain they’ll prioritize5 your case and will respond to your phone calls and emails within 24 hours.
5. Fees and Costs
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, hiring a lawyer can be very expensive.
Before any work begins, make sure you understand how much you’ll be paying for your lawyer’s services, and if you’ll be responsible for any additional fees and charges.
State ethic rules dictate that lawyers need to charge a fair fee. Additionally, the ABA (American Bar Association) advises that attorneys explain their fees to their clients, preferably in writing as well as verbally.
Some states even require lawyers to put their fees in writing before taking on a case. Some additional fees a lawyer may charge you for include courier services, copying documents, court filing fees, and research services.
Make sure you understand exactly what you’ll be charged for before signing on.
6. Payment Arrangements
In addition to understanding how much you’ll be paying your lawyer, it’s also very important to understand how you’ll be paying your lawyer.
Here are the different ways in which lawyers charge their clients:
With this payment arrangement, you’ll pay your lawyer a set dollar amount for a particular service.
If you’re dealing with something simple and straightforward, your lawyer will typically charge a flat fee.
With a contingency fee, your lawyer will get a certain percentage of whatever money you receive when your case is resolved.
If you don’t get any money, then the lawyer doesn’t collect any fees. However, you still may owe money for copying, court fees, hiring expert witnesses, etc.
An hourly rate is exactly what it sounds like- you’ll pay your lawyer based on the number of hours they put into your case. Hourly rates vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and expertise.
If a lawyer asks you to pay a fee upfront, this is known as a retainer. It’s basically like a down payment for fees and expenses.
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Hiring a Lawyer: Are You Ready to Hire?
Now that you know what to consider when hiring a lawyer, it’s time to find the right lawyer for you. While it can take some time and research, finding the right lawyer will definitely pay off!
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