Top Five Things To Look For When Hiring An Attorney
If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law or staring at a divorce or custody battle, your best recourse is enlisting the services of an attorney. While typically no one needs an attorney in a pleasant situation, a capable attorney can help mitigate a potentially unfavorable outcome of a not-so-favorable situation.
However, to have the most favorable outcome possible, you’ll have to ensure that the attorney you are considering has relevant experience and is also honest. Experience and honesty will help ensure that problems do not arise between you and your hired legal professional in the midst of a tough situation.
To help ensure you are working with a trustworthy professional, here’s a list of the top five things to look for when hiring an attorney.
1. Relevant experience.
It’s best to hire an attorney who has experience in the area of law you need. If an attorney lacks experience, he or she may not disclose that to you. Therefore, it’s best practice for the client to ask. Some areas worthy of inquiry include: How long have you been practicing law? What are your specific areas of practice? How many similar cases have you handled? Are you familiar with the issues I may face in my case? Did you get your degree from a reputable and accredited law school?
2. Fees and Costs.
Hire an attorney with a transparent fee structure. If they are not willing to provide the fee structure in writing, it’s best if you should seriously consider walking away.
At TJ Cade Law, LLC, we use an hourly fee structure for some cases and flat fees for other cases. Flat fees are quoted on a case-to-case basis. Many factors are included in determining the fee structure for a particular case, such as the complexity of the case. Our hourly structure has a minimum retainer, against which hourly fees are billed. Whether your case is on a flat fee basis or an hourly basis, our fee structure is described in detail in our written retainer contract.
We also offer payment arrangements when needed in an effort to accommodate as many clients as possible. While predicting the total cost of an hourly case can be difficult, the attorney will explain to you what some of the factors are that may drive the fees in a case to go up and will work with you to try and keep fees and costs down. Our aim is to help our clients understand how much they will be paying for a case in as much as we are able, given the unpredictable factors that can arise.
3. Good communication.
A capable attorney should be able to explain the legal nuances to his or her clients in the simplest possible language. If they use legal words and are unable to break down the legal process and information into language you can understand, he or she is not the attorney for you. You should be able to have a grasp of the legal nuances you may be facing in your case.
For us, at TJ Cade Law, LLC, we find it essential that you should understand your case and the nuances of the legal process in as much as it is possible so that you can make the best and most informed decision possible.
We also suggest that you inquire about an attorney’s practice with returning calls and emails. If an attorney doesn’t respond to calls or emails, there will be a breakdown in communication, which should be avoided.
At our firm, we make it a point to return calls promptly. Whenever the attorney is not available, Karyn Miller, our paralegal, will do what she can to address the concern at hand. Karyn has years of experience, and while she cannot give legal advice, she can address many concerns about the process and the clients’ case. While we inevitably can get caught up in needing to be in court or appointments, we make it a point to return calls daily and as promptly as we can. Overall, you as a client should always make sure that the communication style of the attorney or their staff doesn’t leave you seeing stars.
4. An attorney should be approachable and available.
While delegating work on some aspects of the case is typical in all firms, the attorney you are hiring should be giving your case some personal attention. If they are too busy to do it, it may be best to find another attorney. There are many attorneys who do not handle the cases themselves. They may delegate it to associates or other employees of the firm. This is a point you may want to clarify with the attorney. If you case is delegated to an associate, after all, you have the right to know what their level of experience is and to meet them yourself.
Second, an attorney should be responsive to your needs and be available for emergencies. At our firm, every client has the attorney’s cell phone number and can reach him by phone, text or email at all times. Additionally, it is our practice to staff our caseload on a weekly basis to make certain that deadlines are prioritized and met and that the status of each case and what needs to happen next is reviewed.
You may also want to assess how approachable an attorney is. You will very likely have many questions and concerns over the course of your case. You wouldn’t want to deal with an attorney who is not responsive to your needs. This is important because part of the benefit of good communication between you and your attorney will help alleviate some of the inherent stress and worry that may arise during the case.
5. Honesty is a must in an attorney.
Last but not least, always go for an honest attorney. Don’t hire an attorney who tells you what you want to hear. Hire an attorney who tells you what you need to hear.
Bear in mind that no attorney can ever guarantee the outcome of a case. They can only tell you the odds based on their experience. At the end of the day, a judge or jury determines the outcome, if the case doesn’t get resolved through mediation or before trial. As such, beware of any attorney who provides guarantees.
If you’re looking for an attorney across Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Loxahatchee, Wellington, Hypoluxo, Lake Park, Riviera Beach and in neighboring areas in Florida, reach out to TJ Cade Law, LLC.
We provide legal advice and representations for clients in criminal defense (misdemeanors and felonies), family law (including adoptions, dissolutions, child support, alimony, support modifications), and estate planning (last wills, living wills, health care surrogacies, and powers of attorney).