Whether you got arrested, you are pending divorce or simply need a will, it is important to have quality legal representation. Our legal is system is far from perfect so it is in your advantage to have a lawyer who you can trust, will communicate with you, and will get the job done for reasonable fee.
How do you do that? Simply type “divorce lawyer” into the google machine and roll the dice? Here is what I recommend:
1. Referrals. I meet most of my clients through other clients or through other attorneys. I tend to think that I do good work and people recommend me. Probably seems obvious but folks jump online too quickly these days. Take the time to talk to friends and family when a legal issue pops up. Chances are you know someone with a DUI, has gone through a divorce, or settled on a house. You will get first hand knowledge if the lawyer knows what he/she is doing, if the lawyer returns phone calls, charge reasonable fees, etc. Lawyers that do great work and take care of their clients get referrals.
2. Local Lawyer Referral Services. Many counties or bar associations screen lawyers and offer free or low cost consultations. Intake personnel at the referral service also listen to your problem and try to find you a lawyer with experience in the field.
3. The Internet aka Cyber Abyss. It can be tough to navigate the results if you type “DUI Lawyer Minnesota.” How do you pick from all these ads and websites? Are you getting the best lawyers in your search or the ones who have the largest advertising budgets? I am partial to directories like Findlaw.com and Avvo.com (disclaimer: that is who I pay!) for finding experienced counsel. Findlaw, Avvo, and comparable directories tend to help you narrow your search by legal issue and geography. These sites give you a bit more information about lawyers and firms compared to a basic web search or phone book listing. That said, see paragraph 4.
4. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. Did I mention research? Do your homework before meeting with the lawyer. This may come as a surprise but there are bad lawyers with great websites! (I know I just revealed such shocking news). So take the time to investigate the person who you will trust to handle your legal matter. This involves checking state bar listings, reviewing firm websites, and simply “googling” the lawyer’s name. Do they practice in the area of law that you need help with? What do they advertise? What have other clients said about the lawyer? What associations do they belong to? The web is powerful tool to figure out a lawyers reputation. Do your research!
5. Make a list of 3 or 4 lawyers that you want to meet. I tell prospective clients that you wouldn’t purchase the first car you test drove so why would you meet with just one counsel. Chances are your legal situation is the biggest issue in your life at the current moment. Find the right lawyer to guide you and help you overcome the obstacle.
Coming next…. “I have a list of lawyers. What do I ask the lawyer?”