Choosing an attorney is an emotional and critical decision. It is necessary when venturing on a new journey in life or during times of crisis. Attorneys defend our constitutional rights, represent our interests in criminal matters, and intercede in business and family affairs. A unique challenge for an attorney is balancing empathy and understanding for the client’s circumstances in contrast to the judicial system’s factual and objective view. Choosing the right attorney will have a significant impact on a client’s future. There are numerous considerations in searching for an attorney to meet a client’s needs. The following information for seeking and hiring an attorney can help you make an informed decision.
- Personal Referrals and Networking
Attorney referrals from family, friends, or professionals in the community, who have been in similar circumstances, can give the client a sense of security. These referrals can also come from business associates, such as professionals in banking, accounting firms, support groups, non-profit organizations, or any other professional association.
- Practice Size
Solo practitioners, small practices, and large law firms can have very different styles of practice. Large law firms tend to have more resources available and the benefit of numerous attorneys that can collaborate on a legal matter. Solo or small law firms are inclined to provide a more personalized service, limiting the number of cases they accept, so that they can give each client their undivided attention.
Local attorneys have familiarity and experience with state and local regulations in their area. They will often have a rapport with judges, law clerks, and law enforcement agencies that will bode well for their clients. They are familiar with the style of the opposing attorneys and prosecutors in their area. A local lawyer’s office is likely to be more accessible to their clients, making it convenient to go to a local law office to drop off or sign documents. A law firm out of the area can incur more expenses for a client due to travel expenses, hotel costs, and other fees. However, there may be a benefit for complex, high profile cases to retain attorneys that are out of the area if they have the expertise needed for your case.
- Personal Connection
A client must feel comfortable with sharing personal aspects of their life with their attorney. Many law offices offer a free initial consultation, which allows the client to determine their comfort level with the attorney. During this interview, a client should ask pertinent questions such as how they will be kept informed of the process and the legal principles and strategies applicable to their case. Inquire about the preferred method of communication, such as e-mail, texting, or personal visits. Ask about the process of getting a response to your inquiries. The client should attend the meeting with relevant documents for their case. An initial meeting is a time to discuss the fee schedule for the extent of services needed.
- Quality and Quantity of Similar Cases
Obtaining counsel for business advice is very different from needing representation for a felony crime. A client should choose an attorney who has successfully settled and resolved many cases similar to theirs. Question the caseload of the attorney to determine their availability to give the case adequate time.
- Board Certified Attorneys
Only 7% of the Florida Bar’s licensed attorneys have a Board Certification in their area of practice. To achieve Board Certification, an attorney must undergo a vigorous process, demonstrated through an exam, written and oral skills. Peer reviews are utilized in demonstrating that they meet or exceed professional excellence. Board Certified attorneys are considered specialists in their practice area. These attorneys display attributes such as the highest level of knowledge, skill, dedication, and motivation. They are held in high esteem by their peers and judges.
- Rating Services
AVVO, Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, Justia, Super Lawyers Rising Stars, and other rating services give consumers another way to evaluate attorneys. This information is available online and is based on a peer and client review system for recognition and professional achievements.
- Lawyer Directories
Lawyer Directories document each attorney’s profile, providing a sense of each lawyer’s philosophy of law practice, credentials, and qualifications such as Board Certifications, achievements, and awards. Client reviews and testimonials provide a valuable perspective to consumers that need to enlist an attorney’s services. These directories serve as a great starting place when selecting the best attorney for your legal circumstances.
To find an attorney that meets the highest industry standards in your location, search the online Southern Cross Media Directory. This directory will provide objective criteria and reviews for each listing to help you find the right attorney.