Whether you’re seeking a medical malpractice lawyer or a new attorney of any type, it’s important to do your research to be sure you get the best on your side. Most offer free or very-low cost consultations to discuss the situation and provide an opportunity to ask questions.
Here’s what you should look for in the process.
Before You Go
Even before you meet for the consultation, do some research to make sure it will be worth your time. Search his or her name online, looking for reviews, comments, feedback, etc. regarding the lawyer’s services. Also check with your state’s bar association website to find out of there have been any malpractice accusations, misconducted charges for complaints filed against them. While each state has its own regulations, in general, any documents filed with the bar association will be made public as the Oregon State Bar notes.
One of the most important qualities the lawyer you choose should have is good communication skills that will allow you to develop rapport through a comfortable, open relationship. You should feel that you can share information about your case in the most honest and open way possible – if you can’t, that attorney won’t be able to fully assist you.
It’s important to understand not only how long the lawyer has been practicing, but how much understanding he or she has in cases like yours. If they’ve only recently graduated from law school, they may be able to help, but the more complex the situation is, the more you probably need someone who is highly experienced. Be sure to find out what percentage of their practice is devoted to your type of case, such as child custody, DUI, medical practice and so on. Don’t be afraid to specifically ask how many cases the attorney has represented that are similar to yours.
How much is the lawyer going to cost you? This is an important consideration as while some may advertise a very low flat fee, that number might not include court filing fees or even the cost to print documents related to your case. It’s essential that the attorney be honest, clear and appropriate when it comes to his or her fee structure. The price should be worth the case – for example, if you have a relatively small dispute, it probably doesn’t warrant hiring the most expensive counsel.
Unless the case is very short term, you’ll probably have to be in contact with the lawyer regularly for some time, months or possibly even years, which means you don’t want someone who doesn’t respond to emails or phone calls in a timely manner. He or she should treat every case as it’s important, even if it’s routine. After your consultation, test the responsiveness of the firm by emailing a few questions. How long does it take to get a response? If it’s days before you hear anything, the attorney might be too busy to handle your case. If, on the other hand, the response time and answers are impressive, you might have found the one that’s right for you.
This is a collaborative post. All views and text are mine.