Hiring a lawyer to represent you as you face legal action is a decision that should be made carefully. A lawyer can be chosen if you seek legal advice on a matter where you can represent yourself, whereas an attorney will fully represent you in the courtroom throughout the entire case.
For more simple cases, such as divorce, wills, or other civil matters, you may consider hiring a lawyer. A lawyer will offer you legal advice throughout your case without full representation in the courtroom.
An attorney who provides full representation is recommended for detailed court proceedings. You may need an attorney’s representation if your case involves a large sum of money, potential jail time, or other serious components. An attorney will know how to navigate the details of the case to help achieve the best outcome.
While an attorney’s obligation is to provide fair and competent representation, you should still practice due diligence when making your decision for representation. Personal referrals or positive reviews are helpful in determining which attorney to hire, but how do you make your decision if neither are available?
Identify the Arena: Civil or Criminal
The first step in hiring a lawyer is to find a lawyer who specializes in the area of law you need. If you are charged with committing a crime, you need to find an attorney who practices criminal law. If you are in the process of a divorce, hire a lawyer who specializes in divorce and other family matters. Identify the area of law in which you need a lawyer and then narrow the results down to the lawyer’s specialty, if possible.
Does the Lawyer Specialize in a Specific Area?
As both criminal and civil matters cover a broad range of laws, it is common for a lawyer to specialize in an area of the law they are practicing.
If an attorney practices civil law, he or she may focus primarily on family law, taxation, bankruptcy, or estate planning – a few of the many areas of civil law.
A defense attorney who practices criminal law may specialize in violent crimes, driving under the influence, drug crimes, or another one of the many criminal law areas.
To help determine the lawyer that would best understand your case, consider this example: If a defense attorney who practices criminal law specializes in motor vehicle incidents and you have been charged with driving under the influence, you would benefit from this attorney’s counsel rather than a lawyer who specializes in civil cases.
Finding a lawyer who specializes in the designated area you need will increase the probability of receiving the ruling you desire.
Perform a Search
Lawyers who have passed the bar exam may practice law and fully represent a client in court. You can search online on a state’s bar association directory to find a list of attorneys who practice law in the area in which you live.
For example, if you need to find a lawyer in Texas, you can use the State Bar of Texas website to search for lawyers who are currently practicing law in your area. You can advance the search to select the precise area of law in which your case resides to determine which lawyers in your area you should contact.
Schedule a Consultation or Meeting
After you have found a lawyer, you will need to schedule a meeting to discuss your case. Ask your lawyer if they offer a free consultation to hear your case. This consultation will allow you to explain the details of your case and determine if the lawyer is the right fit for you.
If possible, it is a good idea to talk with more than one lawyer about your case. This way, you can decide which lawyer is the best fit, the most affordable, and has the best probability to succeed.
Ask the Right Questions
Use the consultation or meeting to ask your lawyer some essential questions.
- What is your pay rate?
- How likely are you to succeed in this case?
- How often do you provide updates?
- Will you frequently request additional information?
- Will you be the main point of contact, or will another partner in your firm be assisting in this case?
Knowing the right questions to ask will help you understand how to hire a lawyer who is the best fit. If you have discussed terms and conditions with your lawyer at this meeting, request to get a copy of the agreement in writing.
Do Your Part
It is a common misconception that once a lawyer is hired, your work is done. You will still play an active role throughout the process of the case. When the case has been finalized, and you have received the bill, you need to know what is being billed and why.
If you have hired a lawyer who gives you legal advice and directs which path to take, you will need to be readily available when your lawyer contacts you. A lawyer may have reviewed a detail of your case that requires you to provide additional information. The more readily available you are to assist your lawyer, the closer you are to a resolution with your case.
It is highly probable that you will have to provide documents to your lawyer for your case. Lawyers typically require the original document, if possible. If giving your lawyer an original document, make a copy of the document for your records.
If your lawyer is contacting you through email, save the email conversations in case any issue were to arise throughout your case. While attorneys are morally obligated to provide fair representation, you can terminate your lawyer if you feel you have not received adequate counsel. Having evidence to show you have not been represented fairly or adequately will validate your request for termination.
Hiring the best lawyer or attorney to review your legal matter should be a thorough process that involves a high level of consideration and selection. You will need to identify the area of law that your case is classified, find a lawyer who specializes in that area, and schedule a meeting to discuss specifics.
If you have more legal questions, you can also chat online with a Laws101.com attorney where you’ll be instantly connected to a lawyer who can give you legal guidance on your specific case or question.