This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm.
When you select a doctor, dentist or even a new restaurant for dinner, you more than likely do some research. You may seek out reviews, ask trusted family members or friends for recommendations, or search out necessary information on the internet.
A similar amount of time and assessment should be carried out when you are choosing an attorney.
A client-attorney relationship should not only be symbiotic, but it should put your best interests first and foremost. When you need legal representation, it usually means that the stakes are high. You want someone who will go to bat for you.
To make sure that you are choosing a legal advocate that is right for you, here is criteria you should consider when choosing an attorney.
Experience & success in the field
Experience is, by far, the most important thing to consider when selecting an attorney to represent you and your case. Make sure you to also select an attorney who devotes their time to a particular practice area related to your case, such as personal injury, estate planning or immigration, for example.
Ask your potential attorney if they have handled similar cases to yours. If so, ask them to provide examples and any information they are permitted to divulge about the cases. This can give you insight into how your case may be handled — you want to ensure that they’ve tried comparable cases before.
While years of experience in the field are important, it’s also valuable to measure experience in quality, not quantity.
Check to see if the law firm you’re looking into has a track record of success when litigating its cases. Unsealed case results are public record, and you should be able to see if the results turned out favorable verdicts for the clients.
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get ahold of an attorney once you've enlisted their services.
You may repeatedly be connected to a receptionist or other staff member who promises to relay your message, but rarely to the attorney himself. Or it can be a back-and-forth game to organize a meeting with your attorney that always seems to get rescheduled.
You do not want an attorney like this, especially when you are seeking their expertise on a case with time-sensitive material.
While you can’t control how the communication will be after you’ve hired an attorney, you can gauge how an attorney interacts with you and their level of approachability before you make a decision.
Most lawyers offer first-time meetings free of charge, so you may be able to sit down with multiple attorneys before making any commitments. Use this time to see how easy it is to make an appointment, if you were able to speak with the lawyer beforehand, and whether the attorney makes himself directly accessible to you afterward.
Whitney J. Butcher, an attorney at Whitley Law Firm in Raleigh, said that you should feel like "more than a number" on a firm's client list.
"Being able to get your attorney on the phone [is big]," Butcher said. "Staff is important, but if a client wants to talk to their attorney they should be able to do so."
Last, but certainly not least, the attorney you choose should put you at ease.
It's an attorney's job to go over all the details of your case, without making you feel anxious or vulnerable. They should feel confident that your case is valid and do their best to make you feel the same.
You should feel comfortable discussing things with your attorney, and in return, they should be gentle when responding to any inquiries or concerns you may have. At the end of the day, your attorney is your confidant, and you should feel comfortable confiding in them.
"If you're having to share a great deal about what you've been going through, you want to make sure that you have a comfort factor with that attorney; that you feel like you can speak with them and share your story," said Ben Whitley, a personal injury lawyer at Whitley Law Firm. "[Your lawyer] is essentially speaking for you and [is] your voice."
Whatever your situation may be, make sure that you take the time necessary to choose an attorney that is knowledgeable, accessible and gracious — you and your case will be better for it.
This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm