There’s nothing worse than an unethical lawyer or even a distracted lawyer with too big of a caseload. Unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples in the world of lawyers.
Having a bad lawyer and having to deal with incompetence or disorganization can take a toll on you and your feelings of security in your case.
You need an attorney who’s going to fight for you in the courtroom. You deserve someone with extensive knowledge on your case and the type of law your case revolves around. So, how do you tell if you have a good lawyer or one of those bad apples?
There are specific qualities you want your attorney to have regardless of what area of law your he or she specializes in. We built this guide so you can rest assured that you have a fantastic lawyer. And if not, you can boot them out the door and hire the right lawyer for you.
So, what exactly are the top qualities of a good lawyer?
Qualities of a Good Lawyer
1. Your Lawyer Needs a Positive Attitude
Your lawyer’s attitude can say quite a bit about how well the two of you will work together on your case. If you butt heads, the entire process will be even more stressful than it already is. The less stress, the better you’ll feel.
Besides, you don’t want to work with someone who’s rude and short with you whenever you meet or speak. Nobody should ever have to deal with a lawyer with an unprofessional attitude, especially if you’re paying them a pretty penny for their services.
A personable attitude is a must-have.
Your lawyer’s attitude can also say loads about how well they’ll do in the courtroom or during negotiations. Their confidence and positive attitude follows them into their work.
2. Your Lawyer Needs to be Honest
Honesty between you and your lawyer will take your case a long way and give you peace of mind.
An honest lawyer doesn’t promise you a win in court or with your lawsuit. He or she should be truthful with you about your chances of winning. They’ll remain optimistic, but they’ll stay truthful about the situation.
But honesty has to go both ways. You need to be honest with your lawyer about every detail of your case, whether it’s a criminal case or a lawsuit. To help you out, your lawyer has to know all the facts and has to feel that honesty is reciprocated.
3. Your Lawyer Needs Communication Skills
Lawyers are advocates. That means that their profession (and their success in it) revolves around strong communication skills. If you feel like it’s impossible to get a hold of your attorney or receive timely, clear updates about your case, this should be a giant red flag.
A quality lawyer has strong communication skills and communicates with you every step of the way.
First, your lawyer should be able to explain to you the process of what’s happening with your case. This should be explained in language you understand, not in complicated legal terms that you might not be familiar with.
He or she should also be able to answer every question you have regarding your case. They should be delighted and comfortable with answering your questions, not annoyed or put off.
Your lawyer should respond to your calls or e-mails within a decent amount of time. If you have an attorney who doesn’t respond or contact you for weeks at a time, you’re going to feel uninformed and insecure about your case.
Not only that, but a good lawyer will let you know what’s happening with your case as it’s actually happening. They may not call you every day, but they keep in contact with you letting you know that the motion was filed,or the appeal was in on time.
Lastly, good listening ties into strong communication skills. Your lawyer needs to listen to you to evaluate your case and better assess your legal needs. They should listen to what your goals are with your case.
4. Your Lawyer Needs Organizational Skills
A disorganized lawyer with a large caseload can make mistakes that will hurt your case and won’t have the focus your case must have to be a success.
A great lawyer is highly organized. This means they know what paperwork needs to be done, what information or paperwork you need to provide for your case, and they know every deadline and trial date set.
If your lawyer is organized, you’re organized. There will be no missed deadlines, and everything will go smoothly for both of you.
5. Your Lawyer Needs Logic and Research Skills
The best lawyers don’t always know everything about the law in the back of their mind. And that’s okay as long as your attorney has strong research skills.
A strong researcher is going to find everything they need to know to help your case because they’re dedicated to learning new concepts and learning about old cases similar to your case.
Because of their research skills, they can use the new knowledge they’ve gained and put together logical ideas for your case.
They need to go outside of the box and consider different perspectives of your case.
Along with the ideas of logic and research, a great lawyer will investigate your case if that’s what needed. If you need trustworthy witnesses or experts on a subject, your attorney will have them ready when your court time comes.
6. Your Lawyer Needs Experience and Great References
An experienced and seasoned lawyer who knows their focus of the law inside and out is always a major plus for you, the client. With experience, they know every step of the way which boosts your chance for a good outcome.
However, keep in mind there are still good lawyers who are new to the game and haven’t gotten the chance to prove themselves.
You have every right to ask a lawyer for references before hiring them. These references can be from law firms they’ve worked for or even clients they’ve won cases for.
Legal cases are not quick transactions – you will have a relationship with your lawyer. Not all relationships work, but you should always enter into one with positive feelings. If you get a bad feeling from the start, there’s probably a good reason why. Always listen to your gut.
At the end of the day, you have to trust your instincts and do what’s right for you. If you feel a lawyer isn’t in the right frame of mind to work for you, don’t be scared to terminate them and hire a different attorney.
If you need legal help and want to avoid hiring a bad lawyer, do your research first. We’ve provided resources on all types of law to help you arm yourself with knowledge before selecting an attorney that’s right for you. If you still need help, you can use our Ask a Lawyer tool , chat with one of our staff attorneys online, or simply leave a comment below. We can help you find the right attorney to help with your case.