Seeking the aid of an attorney or law firm for the first time can seem very daunting. The reality is that most people will need to hire an attorney during their lifetime, but many are unsure about what they should look for in an attorney or even how to start. Finding and building a relationship with an attorney and their firm is just as important as finding the right banker, insurance agency or doctor’s office. You may not always need an attorney, but when tragedy strikes having a trusted source for legal aid is priceless. Here is a three-step guide including questions to ask yourself and your prospects.
Beginning Your Search
Before you jump online and Google “attorney Your Hometown” ask your friends, family, and co-workers whom they turn to with their legal questions. Why? Because you could save valuable time as they might have a referral source they know very well who can help you. Even if they don’t know an attorney in the field of your potential case, they could know one that can get you to the correct attorney, faster. As more and more businesses are finding the value and importance of having a well-developed website, you’ll be able to discover a lot of information about an attorney and their firm from their online presence. Sure it’s great to know where they went to school and the areas in which they practice law, but don’t you want to know more about the attorneys themselves?
- What does their “About” section tell you about each attorney and their firm?
- Do they provide valuable resources to their community in the form of a blog or FAQ section of their website?
- How involved is the firm with their community?
- Does their website give you valuable information about who the attorney is, beyond their face value?
Call Their Offices
Unless the prospect attorney works completely alone, chances are that when you call their office, you’ll be speaking with someone other than the attorney. While the receptionist and later on para-legal won’t necessarily be the one handling the specifics of your case, you can expect to communicate with them often.
- Were they welcoming?
- Kind and engaging?
- As a whole, how did the office staff make you feel like a prospective client?
- Were they as accommodating as possible with your schedule given the urgency of your legal situation?
- Would you feel comfortable calling this office in the event of a tragic situation that requires the aid of your attorney?
Interview Each Attorney
Interviewing attorneys can seem a little daunting. What are you supposed to ask? What are you allowed to ask? Surprisingly enough, most of what you’ll need to know about an attorney and their practices can be answered without any questions. As with the staff, the level of attention, respect and focus you receive during your interview with an attorney is an excellent indication of what you can expect in the future. You will have questions and that should be expected. Below are a few good preliminary questions to add to your current list.
- Have they handled cases similar to yours?
- What was the outcome? (yes, you’re allowed to ask this)
- Were your questions answered to your satisfaction?
- Was this meeting focused on you and your current and potential future needs or the attorney themselves?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this person during the most joyous and devastating moments of your life?
Starting with your list of referred and researching attorneys find out as much as you can about their practice online. Browse their website, social media accounts and gauge how involved the firm truly is. After narrowing down your search, call each office. Remember, you’re not just hiring the attorney, but their entire staff. And finally, combine everything you discovered from the first two steps with a final interview with each of your prospects.
Take the time to find the attorney best suited to your needs, both current and in the future. A great attorney will become more than just a lawyer, they will become a trusted resource for you turn to.