There are times when all of us need a little help, a little professional expertise to back us up and perhaps extricate us from an awkward or complicated situation.
Thankfully, these times are few and far between but when you’re looking for a lawyer and some clear, professional legal advice you want to know that who you’re appointing to handle your concern is absolutely the best fit.
Legal services don’t come cheap, whether you’re looking for advice on handling a corporate dispute or need help from a car accident lawyer, you want to know you’re getting great value for money.
In this guide, we take you through some of the steps you should take when finding someone to take on your corporate, civil or criminal case.
Word of mouth
Know a guy who knows a guy? Often word of mouth recommendations are the very best way to secure the services of someone who’s going to work well for your specific case. Talk to friends, fellow professionals or family members to start drawing up a list of lawyers you can begin doing a little research into.
Without spending too much time, you should be able to look up these names online and get a good sense of the company they work for and their speciality. You might even be able to track down their success at trial rates if they were held in open court.
Look on their website to see if they have any up to date testimonials from clients, always a good sign. Don’t be afraid to get in contact with these former clients and ask if they would still recommend the company or individual lawyer to handle their case.
Once you’ve carried out some initial research, you can begin the process of meeting your shortlisted lawyers face-to-face to discuss your case.
They count for a lot. How did your lawyer make you feel? Were you impressed with their communication? How did they explain a potential strategy? Did they come across as organised and confident or quite the opposite? While this first impression may change over time, often it is the main reason why a lawyer is hired to begin with.
Most lawyers will offer potential clients the chance to explain their situation before they start charging for services, but often that time is limited so use it effectively.
Make sure you have all the documents you need, copied and organised so they are in a logical sequence. Explain clearly and precisely what has happened and what you are looking for. Have a list of questions prepared and be ready to ask them should your potential lawyer not offer the information first.
You are quite entitled to go away and think about who you’ve talked to before you make a decision about whom to appoint, but remember with legal action the clock is ticking so you’ll want to get started as soon as you can.
For the most part lawyers will charge for their services by the hour and this may include any phone calls you make to them or vice versa. If you’re in any doubt about what these fees cover, ask for the small print to be explained to you, so you aren’t caught out with an unexpectedly high charge.
Legal services, for the most part, don’t come cheap so there is inevitably going to be a cost attached. There are, however, some arrangements you might be able to arrive at with your legal team.
You may arrange for your lawyer to argue your case for you pro bono, receiving their costs at the end of proceedings should the ruling fall in your favour. This is unlikely unless your case is very strong so often the best course of action is to be upfront with your firm right from the start and let them know the extent of your budget.
It might be that they take a retainer fee and you are able to pay installments or can settle at the end of the process. It’s also worth checking out if you are entitled to any legal fee help through a loan or aid programme.
If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that the legal process is very often a slow one. Don’t be surprised if there’s no movement on your case day-to-day and then a flurry of activity just before it winds up in the law courts or face-to-face and a sit down with the opposing counsel. For the most part you’ll be looking at the best way to settle out of court but if it does get that far, be prepared again for a long wait.
Schedule weekly update calls with your lawyer to find out the latest in the proceedings and have them call you in case of breaking news.
You’ll want to make sure you are always available to take calls from your lawyer and have any paperwork they might need quickly found, scanned and sent over. A quick response can hurry proceedings along or at the very least not hold them up any longer than is necessary.
Finding a lawyer can feel like a drawn out process but when you need the best advice, opt for someone who specialises in the field you are seeking advice in and who has a track record of delivering great results.
Simply try and get the very best for the budget you are on. No one wants to go through these tough times, but when you do you need someone on your side ready to fight your corner and do what it takes to get the result you want.
Find someone you know is going to communicate well with you, who inspires confidence and who has a strategy that you fully support. Check out your financing options and look forward to settling your dispute once and for all, losing that stress and getting back to your real life again, knowing you made a great decision.