Finding the Right Attorney

Finding and hiring an attorney can be an overwhelming task, even for those already familiar with the legal system or who have worked with an attorney before.  The following are some tips on finding the right attorney for your legal needs.

1)  Find an attorney that has experience handling your legal issue.

This is rather obvious, but finding an attorney that has experience working with your type of case or issue on a regular basis is key—especially for issues that are particularly nuanced or complex.  Most attorneys specialize in certain areas of law, but it’s important to try and go one step further and find someone who is familiar with your specific issues.  Finding attorneys that work in general areas—family, probate, patent, natural resource law, for example—is generally easy to do.  But once you find some options, it’s important to do a little extra digging to see if the attorneys you’ve identified have worked in that particular field or with your particular issue.

Finding the right attorney for your needs obviously requires some research.  Starting with a Google search is perfectly fine and will give you an initial sense of who in your area you might want to research further.  But, we all know Google can often lead to an overwhelming amount of results—leaving you nearly back where you started.   

To help narrow down your search and/or get feedback from actual people in your community, social media can be very helpful.  Asking for recommendations on Facebook or Nextdoor (a neighborhood resource app that lets users post and interact on various neighborhood-related things), can yield very helpful results.  You’ll also find you’ll get recommendations for smaller firms or solo practitioners that wouldn’t necessarily show up on the first few pages of a Google search.

Finally, your county’s Bar Association is an excellent resource for finding an attorney.  Local bar associations often keep directories sorted by practice area, and a visit to their website can help you avoid the clutter of Google and start narrowing down potential options.  Don’t hesitate to call your local bar association to ask any questions you may have.

2)  Narrow your options, but expand your research

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few options, the next step is performing some more specific research.  An obvious place to start is the attorney (or their firm’s), website, which will give you some general background as to both.  This also helps you get a “feel” for the firm—an important factor to consider given you’ll be working with your attorney closely on issues that are very important to you.  Most attorneys also have their bio and resume listed on their website, giving you a sense of their background and experience.  Again, this helps in getting a sense of whether the attorney is the right person for your case and has experience handling your specific legal issue.

Next, and perhaps more importantly, call the firm to ask any questions you may have.  A firm’s website likely won’t have all the answers you need before retaining an attorney, so speaking with an actual person is critical.  Often the attorney or someone working for them can answer specific questions about their practice area, experience, and yes, their fees (another major factor to be considered).

3)  Meet with your prospective attorney

The final step is meeting face-to-face with your prospective attorney.  Though this seems like another obvious tip, it is critical you get a sense of their personality.  You want to find someone you can work with on complex and sensitive issues, and someone you obviously trust to handle those issues.  In a way, you’re interviewing the attorney to make sure they’re the right fit for you.  A few less obvious topics you’ll want to address are making sure the attorney has the time and resources to devote to your case.  You can also ask about the attorney’s typical strategy in approaching a case like yours and make sure you’re both on the same page about your needs and goals.  There’s simply no substitute for an in-person meeting to make sure your attorney is the right fit for you.

Finding and hiring an attorney can be a stressful and time-consuming task, especially when you’re already dealing with a stressful and time-consuming legal issue.  But, the importance of thoroughly researching and vetting your options cannot be overstated.  Hopefully, the tips above can help make the process of finding the right attorney a little less daunting.

Submitted by Nathan A. Klotz