When it comes time to find a trustworthy bankruptcy lawyer, personal injury lawyer, or any other kind of attorney for that matter in North Port, Venice, Englewood, Port Charlotte or surrounding areas, the task of discovering and hiring the right lawyer for you may seem quite daunting. With all of the lawyer advertisements out there and scores of attorneys based both locally and afar, how do you decide? If a friend or neighbor has had a positive experience with a lawyer and can recommend his or her services, then a referral is often the best way to find a good attorney. One of the most important factors is that you have a decent comfort level with the attorney after speaking with him or her. Ask yourself: Do I feel like I can trust this person with my important legal matter? Here are some additional tips to consider when looking for a lawyer:
1. Can you call the law firm and speak with the lawyer directly? Or, do you feel like you are already getting the runaround from staff. This may be a good indicator of what you are likely to experience if you hire the law firm. 2. Is the lawyer experienced? Does he or she tell you how long they have been practicing in their advertisement? 3. Does the lawyer have more than one office? As a result of having multiple offices, how difficult will it be to consult with the lawyer at follow-up visits? Are those “satellite” offices even staffed? 4. Is the lawyer able to get you in for an initial consultation within at least a couple of days? Otherwise, consider whether the lawyer may be too busy to devote adequate time to your legal matter.
5. Is the lawyer Peer Review Rated? Have other lawyers and judges given the lawyer high marks? 6. Has the lawyer had any disciplinary problems with The Florida Bar? You may check on a lawyer’s record of discipline by going to www.flabar.org and searching the lawyer by name. There, you may also see how long the lawyer has been in practice in the state of Florida. Statistics reveal that a lawyer with past disciplinary problems is more likely to have future problems. 7. When you arrive for your initial appointment, is the lawyer on time? If not, this may be a sign of trouble. 8. Does the lawyer’s office appear to be clean and well organized? Or, is clutter scattered about? Don’t ignore these clues. 9. Does the lawyer speak in language you can understand? Or, is there an over-reliance on legalese? In order for you to feel like you are adequately represented, you must be able to communicate with your lawyer.
10. Does the lawyer offer to and actually answer any questions you have? Or, instead, does the lawyer talk over you and make you feel like you are being ignored? 11. Is the lawyer willing to give you a concrete statement of what his fees and costs will be to handle your case? Or, do you walk away feeling like the total fees and costs remain a mystery? 12. After speaking with the lawyer, do you have any “gut reactions” or “nagging doubts”? Learn to trust your instincts. 13. Do you feel like your personality and the lawyer’s demeanor are a good fit? The attorney – client relationship, in essence, requires mutual cooperation and teamwork to be a successful endeavor. 14. Do you leave the appointment feeling like you could trust the lawyer?
15. Did the lawyer try to urge you or pressure you into retaining his law firm on the spot at the initial appointment? If he did, this may be an indication that the lawyer places his own interests above your own. 16. Is the lawyer willing to disclose and discuss whether he has ever been sued for legal malpractice? 17. Is the lawyer willing to tell you whether he carries legal malpractice insurance in case a mistake is made in your case? 18. Following your appointment, is the lawyer available by telephone to answer any follow up questions you may have? If you have a hard time getting the lawyer on the phone then, it is a sure indicator of potential communication issues.
19. Is the lawyer that you meet with and hire the same lawyer that will be handling your case during all phases through to the time of completion? Mistakes are most likely to be made when lawyers pass the file around the office, with no one who has total responsibility for the client or case. Seek out a law firm where you will deal with one lawyer and one lawyer only from beginning to end. 20. Does the law firm give you the overall impression that it is nothing more than a “mill,” where you will be just another “file” among hundreds or thousands of others competing for the lawyer’s attention? 21. Is the law firm locally based in the geographic area it serves? Will you find out that in order to meet with the lawyer in the future, you will be required to make multiple car trips to distant cities once you have committed and signed the contract? 22. If your case involves going to court, does your lawyer have actual courtroom experience? If so, how much experience? What is the lawyer’s track record in court?
All in all, you should use your best judgment and trust your instincts when hiring a lawyer. If you have any doubts, obtain a second opinion on your case from another lawyer. If you hire a lawyer and experience trouble early on in the representation, it is usually a sign of bad things to come. Hopefully, by following these tips, you will make the right choice from the start.