The latest statistics show there are over 1.3 million lawyers practicing in the U.S. today. In one given city and one given specialty, such as a medical malpractice attorney in Pittsburgh, there are likely to be dozens to choose from, which can make it somewhat overwhelming trying to decide the right one to handle your case.
Whether you’re buying or selling real estate, getting a divorce, drafting a will or hiring an attorney to take on a malpractice case, you’ll want to have the right lawyer on your side.
5 Things to Know About Choosing a Lawyer
Does the Lawyer Have Expertise in the Issue You Need Help With?
There are many different specialties and subspecialties of lawyers, and before you can accurately determine the best one to represent you, you need to determine which type of attorney is best suited to address and resolve your particular issue. Lawyers today aren’t generalists, they’re just as specialized as doctors and you probably wouldn’t ask your family practice physician to perform open heart surgery.
What’s the Attorney’s Track Record?
You should also ask how many cases the attorney has handled that are similar to yours, and what their track record is, such as the number of cases settled or won. A lawyer with a track record of success with your type of problem will increase the odds that they can help you resolve your issue successfully as well.
How Honest is the Attorney?
Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation which can be a great way to determine how honest, forthcoming and communicative they are – all important traits in choosing the best lawyer. You may be able to tell right away – they should look you in the eye when speaking to you and tell you honestly about the chances for the success or failure of your case. If they’re unusually optimistic, it could be a sign of dishonesty as there are nearly always some risks and downsides of any case.
Does the Attorney Communicate Well?
An attorney is paid to communicate with adversaries and those sitting in judgment of their cases, but they should also be able to effectively communicate with you. Ask them if it’s okay to call them throughout the case to ask questions or discuss concerns and whether you’ll be given periodic updates on the status of the case by phone or in writing. Will you be communicating with the attorney directly or a paralegal?
Is the Attorney Within Your Price Range?
Even if the attorney meets all the important criteria, if they aren’t in your price range it’s not going to be a good fit. You’ll need to know if you can afford their services and how you’ll be required to pay. Find out what the payment options are and how often you’ll be billed. If possible, get an estimate of what the case will cost to litigate in writing, securing a contract the spells out the maximum possible to prevent unwanted surprises.