Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Choosing a Lawyer - 8 Guidelines
Choosing a lawyer can be tough. You want someone who believes in your case and someone who will listen to you. It’s not about which lawyer is the loudest or who can bully the other side. Litigation is a long process. The winners are oftentimes not the loudest lawyers, but the ones who are willing to work the hardest, understand what you are going through and will continue to fight for you come hell or high water. Above all else, you need to have a lawyer who you can trust. Lawyers are people with distinct personalities. You may click with some, but not with others. When choosing a lawyer, here are some things to consider:
1. LISTENING. Does the lawyer let you talk and does he or she take time to understand where you are coming from? Is he or she really listening to you? Does he or she give you his or her undivided attention?
2. SHARED VALUES. Do you agree with your lawyers values about why to bring a lawsuit? Are you in it just for the money? Probably not. Your lawyer should also believe in the societal value of your case. Oftentimes there are principles involved, especially in discrimination cases.
3. EXPERIENCE. Does the lawyer have a proven track record and know what he or she is doing? If you are bringing a lawsuit for employment discrimination, you need someone who is knowledgeable about the law and has experience litigating and TRYING cases like yours.
Most cases do not go to trial. Some lawyers have never tried a case, sometimes because trials are frightening and unpredictable. You need a lawyer with the courage to try the case if need be. . It is essential that show courage in the face of battle. Would you choose a surgeon who has never performed surgery before?
4. REPUTATION. Is the lawyer well-respected by judges and opposing counsel? It makes litigation easier if your lawyer knows how to avoid unnecessary battles. However, you need a lawyer whom judges and opposing counsel respect, especially if you go to trial.
5. COMPATIBILITY. Do you like the lawyer? The two of you are going to be spending a lot of time together. You both should like each other. It’s hard to go through litigation otherwise.
6. RESPECT. Do you respect the lawyer, and equally, if not more important does the lawyer respect you? Is your lawyer honest with you, telling you the good, the bad and the ugly. You should not want sugar-coating or a lawyer afraid to do what’s best for you.
7. RESPONSIVENESS. Is the lawyer responsive to your questions? Do you get calls or other communications (emails) back from him or her? You should feel like you can ask your lawyer anything and not feel stupid.
8. DUTY. Does the lawyer put your interests before his or hers? That doesn’t mean that every client gets whatever he or she wants. The law and courts have a hand in this. But, the lawyer is there to represent you. You come first.
Litigation is tough even for the strongest people. In some cases, the opposing counsel can try to make you question yourself, ask you things that are nobody’s business, or hold you to ridicule. You have to have a lawyer that has your best interests at heart. Research your lawyer before choosing him or her. Ask for recommendations. This is one of the most important decisions you will make.