Type of lawyer
Before you can begin engaging an attorney, you need to specify not only what type of attorney you will need but who they are as well. Determining the type of lawyer will vary based on your case, such as family, estate, civil, criminal, contracts, or personal injury. Luckily we have already done the research for our top picks for medical malpractice attorneys, so you don’t have to. Once you know where your case falls, it is critical to choose a lawyer who is experienced in that legal field and works the way you want them to. Recommendations can be a good way to narrow down many of your choices; however, you will want to be careful with certain recommendations. For example, someone may have a brother or cousin who is a great criminal defense attorney in that area, but you need an attorney to write a well-written contract. In this case, finding someone familiar with their field is a better option.
The demeanor of your attorney is also very important to consider when choosing the type of lawyer you want to have. Some things you may want to consider are how the attorney likes to meet with you – over the phone or in person, verbal communication – do they speak to you always in a professional tone, or would you prefer they speak to you like a friend swearing and all, do you want an attorney who is well organized and plans meetings two weeks out with email notifications and reminders or do you want an attorney who is impromptu and free for meetings whenever you call.
Technology usage by the attorney is something that may be important to consider when choosing your attorney. If you personally tend to be more of a paper and pencil user, you may want to find an attorney who does the same or is accommodating to you. On the other hand, you may be technology savvy and want everything to remain digital, but the attorney is old school and only uses paper and pencil unless absolutely necessary to use a computer; in this case, you may want to find a more compatible attorney.
Before meeting with on interviewing and hiring an attorney, you want to prepare yourself and make yourself clear of your intent and what you wish to accomplish by hiring them. Make sure you can articulate your thoughts and plans clearly, as you do not want to be cryptic and confuse the attorney about what it is that you need. It is also important to note that the better you explain your situation and goals, the quicker the lawyer can find a solution and charge you fewer billable hours.
Before engaging an attorney, you will want to inquire about their prices and fees and ensure they are affordable for you and your situation. Many times you can ask an attorney for a flat fee, so you can more accurately calculate final costs. A flat fee is a charge that remains constant as there are no variables, such as the charge of drafting up a document. It is harder to quote a flat fee when there are variables such as a third party and ongoing negotiations. It is important to find out the usual charges for these circumstances and relate them as best you can to your situation to know what you can expect to pay in fees with an attorney.
Besides a flat rate fee, attorneys may charge an hourly rate; this means that the final bill will depend on how long it takes to complete your case. The rate an attorney charges per hour is usually dependent upon the number of years of experience; therefore, a less experienced attorney may cost less, but they may take longer to complete a case.
One other way an attorney may receive payment is through a contingency. A contingency fee arrangement means that the lawyer will receive a set percentage of the total money you get if you win your case, along with reimbursement for case-related costs such as filing fees, expert witnesses, and depositions. With this payment method, the lawyer is taking a risk that your case may be unsuccessful. Depending on your contingency agreement, you may have to reimburse the attorney for any case-related costs. It is important to know what your agreement covers before signing anything. Often, this is the method our top choices for personal injury lawyers will choose when representing you.
Scheduling and having the interview is an important part of engaging the attorney you have chosen. Hence, it is important to go about it in the most efficient way possible while keeping yourself comfortable. As the client, you should be able to choose how the interview will be conducted; this can either be done over the phone, over video conference, or in person. During the interview, you will want to inquire about a few key points, such as how many years they have in their field, what their working style is, what they charge, technology comfort level if they have handled a case similar to yours before, how available they are to you if they believe you have a good case, who their typical clients are. If they have any other special training or degrees that relate to your situation, are there other ways to solve your problem, and how will they update you about your case.
The final step of finding an attorney is engaging the attorney. At this point, it is important to know what to do, say, and bring with you to this engagement meeting. At the engagement meeting, you will want to re-visit and affirm everything you have asked in the interview stage so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications. You will want to read and reread all documents and agreements during this. The terms of your agreement will contain important information about billable hours, who will be working on your case, what is subject to change, and under what circumstances, with or without notice when payment is due, and more.
Some other things you may want to bring with you when engaging an attorney are
- Any court documents already filed or need to be filed.
- Notes on your case or problem
- Evidence or court records
- Police reports (if applicable)
- Medical records (if applicable)
- Work schedule – when engaging with a worker’s compensation lawyer
Once you have completed and signed all documents and officially hired your attorney, it is important to keep yourself informed. Keep tabs on all aspects of your case with your attorney and be sure to watch for any red flags such as; no updates from your attorney, random fees and expenses, and actions taken in the case that were not discussed with you prior. Another important thing to monitor is anything subject to change in your engagement agreement follows the rules agreed upon for the change, and you are informed of the change.