If circumstances have required you to get involved in litigation, you may find the process of selecting an attorney to be overwhelming.  There are, however, some steps you can take to make the selection process a bit easier.

First, you should consider hiring someone who emphasizes in your type of case. If you had an automobile accident, consider hiring an attorney who practices personal injury law and preferably one with a track record of success in car accident cases. We have a proven track record in car accident cases.

Since you and the attorney you choose will be working very closely together, it’s important to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable.   For us, this factor works both ways- we only represent people with whom we are comfortable as well.  If we can’t trust our client, a jury won’t trust our client.  How long has the attorney been practicing law? We have over 20 years of experience.  Has the attorney ever handled a case like yours before? We’ve handled all types of personal injury and premise liability cases, especially car accidents, slip and falls, and other negligence cases.  How much are fees and how are they paid? Does the attorney seem like he or she is concerned about your case? Does the attorney seem knowledgeable about the area of law?   Does the attorney articulate himself clearly and effectively?  Does he have a credible and trustworthy demeanor?  Remember, a judge or jury may be making the same assessments down the line.

With respect to fees, most attorneys will take a personal injury case on a contingency basis, meaning that you only pay if they succeed.  In addition to contingency fee structure, you should also be aware that many attorneys will bill for “out of pocket expenses” such as $0.25 per page for photocopies, $1.00 per page for faxes and cost of hiring experts and consultants.  Unlike some firms, we do NOT charge for photocopies or faxes.  If you’re involved in a commercial or contract dispute, most such cases are billed on an hourly basis.  If you’re a plaintiff, a hybrid fee structure whereby you would pay a lower hourly fee but provide the lawyer with a percentage of the settlement may be an interesting option.

It’s also a good idea to find out how long the attorney believes the case will take. Obviously, many factors are beyond your attorney’s control, but you should be able to determine a general timeline and what type of resources the attorney will commit to your case.   It’s also important to know how you will be kept updated throughout the proceeding. It can be very frustrating if your attorney does not keep you informed on the status of your case. Ask the attorney how he or she plans to communicate with you and how often you can expect a status report.

You can also research the attorney.  Has the attorney been recognized by his peers, clients, or professional organizations for his or her skills.   You can find out a lot about an attorney online at websites like avvo.com or societyoflegladvocates.org.  Remember, a satisfied former client is almost always your best source of information.

Choosing an attorney is a important decision and should not be based upon advertising alone.  It’s important to sit down with the attorney and get a feel for him or her to make sure the relationship is the right fit for your case.