In life, we are often tasked with searching for professional services. Whether it is a plumber, automobile mechanic, doctor or accountant, the choices can be confusing. However, unlike some of these services that are needed on a consistent basis, it is not often that individuals need the services of an attorney. In fact, many people never need the services of an attorney. The following guideline should assist individuals in obtaining the services of a competent and helpful attorney.
How to find good and bad lawyers
The very best way to find an attorney is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend. It is important to ask questions regarding the attorney’s representation of the friend/family member. Was the attorney’s representation a positive experience overall? Did the attorney promptly return telephone calls? Did the attorney listen to the client and try to find solutions for the client’s stated problems? Did the attorney follow the client’s directions? Was the attorney organized and focused? Did the client interact directly with the attorney or did the client have to constantly speak to the attorney’s paralegal or secretary?
Ely & Reed has represented clients who had been represented previously by another attorney. Those clients’ top three complaints regarding their previous attorney were: 1) the attorney never returned telephone calls regarding case updates; 2) the client never got to actually speak to the attorney and was always pawned off on a paralegal, secretary of case manager; and 3) the attorney did not listen to the client’s real goals of the litigation. Frequently, the clients found their ex-attorney via a television ad for the lawyer. You should know, we are wary of lawyers who claim they are great attorneys simply because of the past settlements they have obtained. See here for more thoughts.
Now that I have a referral...
The next important step in finding an attorney is meeting the attorney in person. Nothing can substitute for having a one on one conversation with someone. Observe the attorney’s office. Does it appear organized? Are the files neatly stored or are they strewn everywhere? Are there client papers in plain sight where confidential information can be seen?
A disorganized office and client files usually means that the attorney will be unorganized during the handling of your case including a possible trial. It is very difficult to litigate a case and it is almost impossible to take a case to trial if there is no client file organization. You would be prudent to look elsewhere if you observe a disorganized office or files at an attorney’s office.
Also, ask the attorney important questions regarding experience. How many years has the attorney been practicing? How many cases has the attorney taken to a jury trial? How many cases has the attorney taken to jury trial in the past five years? What types of cases has the attorney worked on similar to your case?
Too many attorneys rely on settlement to resolve cases. This is not to say that some cases should settle or that all cases should proceed to trial. However, it is imperative that you hire an attorney that can and has tried cases. Insurance companies know which attorneys try cases and which ones do not. Guess which attorneys get the best settlement offers? Further, if your case needs to go to trial, it is important that you have an attorney who can competently represent you at trial. Many attorneys have little or no trial experience. Further, some have not tried a case in many years. It is important that you find an attorney who has tried cases and tried cases recently.
Finally, do an online search. Each state has a bar association webpage where you can search for your attorney online. Make sure your attorney is licensed. Make sure the attorney has had no disciplinary actions against him/her. Run the attorney’s name through a search engine; see if the attorney’s name brings up anything negative.
The attorneys at Ely & Reed wrote this guideline in hopes that it will help prospective clients better understand what it would be like to be represented by Ely & Reed. If you are interested in discussing possible representation, or simply to better get to know the attorneys at Ely & Reed, please contact us.