How to Select a Lawyer
Let’s assume you decided you need to hire counsel to help with some aspect of your business. I might be biased, but I think that’s a great decision! I firmly believe in delegating out various functions of your business that are outside your realm of expertise, especially legal matters.
The question becomes how to select a lawyer. This article provides insight, from a lawyer’s perspective, on how to research and select the best lawyer for you.
Consider Your Legal Needs
Lawyers are educated on a wide variety of legal concepts. Law schools require us to take classes across the spectrum just to graduate, and the bar exam tests us on a broad and rotating list of subject matter. However, once we enter the real world most lawyers, like doctors, become specialists. Would you rather hire a lawyer who knows a little about many practice areas, irrelevant to you, or someone who is a specialist in your area of need?
I’m a business attorney. I do litigation and transactional work. This often bleeds into related fields, such as real estate, employment and consumer law, but I stay in my lane. I won’t touch a family or criminal issue with a 10-foot pole. Maybe don’t hire an estate planner to litigate your contract dispute? Maybe don’t hire a criminal defense lawyer to file your trademark application?
Figure out the nature of your legal need (i.e., employment, contract, regulatory, insurance, real estate), and look for an attorney in that area of practice. Find a specialist whenever possible.
How to Find Counsel
It can be tempting to run a web search for an attorney in a certain practice area in a certain geographical region (i.e., “San Diego Contract Lawyer), but the results will not necessarily pair you with the right person. The top hits of every web search are paid ad placements. Those attorneys are literally paying for those placements, and they pay per click. The person at the top of the list isn’t necessarily the one you want to hire.
The hits just below the paid ads aren’t necessarily the “best” lawyers; they are just the ones with the best SEO. It could be because their website is packed with valuable content, rich in keywords, or it could be because they invested heavily in digital marketing. This isn’t necessarily the person you want to hire. To clarify, I’m not advising you against hiring someone with good SEO; I am advising you not to hire someone just because they’re at the top of the page. Good search placement just means this person has money to burn.
I suggest you tap your network and seek a referral. Word of mouth is the best marketing, and a recommendation says a lot more about a person’s competency than their SEO. If you belong to a networking group or chamber of commerce, I suggest kicking the tires on a lawyer in the group. It’s a great way to build a relationship, plus the lawyer should raise his or her game because they will feel more accountability.
Don’t be afraid to ask the attorney for references. You really don’t need this if the attorney came from a referral, and the need for references really depends on the intensity or complexity of the project. A simple contract or trademark filing probably doesn’t warrant references, but a heavy litigation case should. I’ve had a couple prospective clients request references from me and was happy to comply because I respected their diligence.
Another resource is your county’s local bar association. Most counties have bar associations, which are separate from the state bar (a governmental licensing agency), where attorneys voluntarily pay for membership. These associations often have lawyer referral services, where you can connect with attorneys experienced in your area of need. For San Diego County, visit www.sdcba.org/lris.
How to Interview Attorneys
You absolutely should interview your prospective attorney before making a hiring decision. The interview serves multiple purposes, the most important being whether you are a fit for each other and whether the attorney has the requisite experience.
Attorneys and clients tend to take after each other. In my years of litigating disputes, I’ve come to learn that attorneys and their clients often seemed to share values and personalities. Hire someone who makes you feel comfortable, who listens to you and doesn’t talk over you and dominate the conversation. Hire someone who returns your call and responds to your email, someone whom you like and with whom you feel chemistry. You might be working together for a long time, so only hire someone you like and trust.
Personality aside, you want to hire an attorney who is competent and experienced in your area of concern. You don’t want to pay for your lawyer’s education, so ask the attorney if he or she has worked on your issue before, how many times and with what results.
On the one hand, you want to probe the attorney’s experience and competency for your legal issue. On the other hand, you do not want to come across as seeking free legal advice. It is unwise for any attorney to offer opinions with incomplete information and without having first been retained.
Don’t be shy to inquire about the anticipated cost of your project. Ask the attorney whether the project is more conducive to flat rate or hourly and request a quote. I’ll quote a project on the spot if the matter is straightforward. If it is more complex I’ll think it over and submit a written proposal.
Also, you want to inquire about the attorney’s availability. Does the attorney have the time to give attention to your matter and what is the turnaround time?
Don’t be afraid to interview multiple attorneys while seeking the best fit. Find the right balance between chemistry, experience and cost. I’m not offended when prospective clients disclose they’re interviewing other candidates. I tell them to go with their gut and hire whomever they believe to be the best person for the job. I do not recommend trying to put lawyers in a bidding war. Just go with the person who offers the best value and results for your money.
How to Research Attorneys
Attorneys are licensed by the State Bar, and information relating to all attorneys’ licensing is public record. Here you can find the attorney’s contact information, how long they have been practicing, where they went to school (undergrad and law) and whether they have been subject to disciplinary action. If the attorney has been disciplined by the State Bar, official documentation is available for download, right at the attorney’s profile page. To research California attorneys, go to www.calbar.ca.gov.
You may also search the attorney’s name online. It would be helpful to include terms such as “California lawyer,” along with the person’s full name in quotation marks. You might find some interesting articles, blogs, videos, reviews, complaints and comment threads. Having said all this, take what you find online with a grain of salt (aside from disciplinary records) and consider the source. For any complaint you may find there is always more to the story and another perspective.
2/24/2020 07:36:45 pm
Thanks for this blog. I learned a lot of tips and ideas on how to find and choose the best lawyer
2/26/2020 07:12:48 am
I liked your idea to interview an attorney before you hire them to see if they listen to you and fit well with you. My sister-in-law got into a car accident on Monday and injured her leg. I will give her these tips to help her find a good personal injury attorney in Stockton, CA.
3/16/2020 07:55:15 am
You made a good point about interviewing the attorney to ensure they fit and will be able to handle your case. It also makes sense that one must consider the requirements needed to deal with your claim, like experience and knowledge. One of my co-workers mentioned she wanted to hire a lawyer for a personal situation at work, so hopefully, your article will help her search.
3/27/2020 06:43:22 am
As you mentioned, when hiring a lawyer, it is important to consider what your legal needs are. Each lawyer has different specialties that they cover. My parents are wanting to do some estate planning, and have that all in order just in case anything were to happen. I will share this article with them to see if it helps them with the decision process.
3/30/2020 01:50:03 pm
I like how you said that we should look for an attorney in a specific area of practice. I am going bankrupt. Finding a bankruptcy attorney would be great for me.
4/1/2020 04:12:03 am
It's good to know that we can easily access an attorney's contact information as well as their years of experience. My friend is thinking of hiring a lawyer to help her family's business since she mentioned that they're nearing bankruptcy. I'll also remind her to interview multiple attorneys to see who can help them the most.
4/9/2020 08:58:36 am
I agree that one should look for an attorney that’s experienced in the local court system, knows the judges, and knows the local prosecutors. One of my friends needs to hire his stepson a lawyer to defend him because he is facing a criminal case and he needs the advice. I will be sure to help him find a layer with plenty of experience in similar cases compares to his stepson's case.
4/9/2020 12:36:04 pm
Thank you for informing me that you can interview your lawyer before hiring them to see if they have the personality and qualifications you desire. Yesterday, my brother got arrested for DUI. We do not believe that he was intoxicated above legal levels and we want to help him. It sounds like looking for good legal representatives is the best start we can give him.
4/18/2020 12:19:46 am
Thanks for this guide on how to pick a lawyer. I've been watching a couple of court-related drama lately and I find it interesting that attorneys are separated by their specialization. If someone needs a criminal defense attorney, they can't just hire any lawyer to defend them. I should save this article somewhere and get back to it if ever I end up needing legal help.
4/20/2020 07:31:08 am
I like what you said about interviewing your prospective attorney before hiring them. My sister has been telling me about how she needs some legal help in the coming weeks. I'll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for lawyers who can help her with this.
5/5/2020 08:30:19 am
I like your suggestion to figure out the nature of our needs to make sure we can find the best specialist for the job. I want to help my mom look for a good attorney to work with so she can discuss her eligibility for social security disability after her recent back injury. Thanks for sharing these methods I can use to feel confident as I move forward with the attorney-choosing process!
5/12/2020 01:52:46 pm
I like how you mentioned that lawyers, much like doctors, have to choose a specialty after entering the real world post-graduation. My cousin is thinking of looking for an immigration lawyer because he's considering helping his wife's brother permanently move from a different country and live where he lives. I think it's a good idea for my cousin to consider all of his options when hiring a reputable professional that can help navigate the complex immigration process to help his brother-in-law permanently relocate successfully.
5/28/2020 09:19:45 am
Thanks for the tip to ask for references from any attorney we're considering if our case is intense or complex. My brother is considering hiring a debt collection attorney because he's been struggling to get payment from one of his business partners for at least two months now. I'll have to give him a call so he can use your advice to find a high-quality attorney!
5/31/2020 09:11:42 pm
I agree with you that we should find a specialist whenever possible for our legal needs. My son's friend was charged with assault the other day and he was worried about his friend spending his time in jail. I will definitely suggest to the boy's parents about finding a criminal defense attorney for their son to protect his rights.
6/8/2020 12:41:54 am
Great Blog! Thanks for sharing this post with us.
6/9/2020 12:30:43 pm
It was really helpful when you said to look them up online! My fiance was recently in a really bad truck accident a couple of days ago that injured his leg, and we want to make sure that we find the right personal injury attorney to help him. We'll make sure to keep this information in mind as we search for one to help him with his accident.
6/10/2020 12:31:43 pm
I love the idea of interviewing an attorney before hiring them. You can see how well you'll work with them. That could give you an advantage when planning your case.
6/10/2020 02:33:09 pm
It was interesting to learn about how referrals can be the best way to find a lawyer because it can build more relationships and gives you a better idea of their competency. I can imagine how it could be really useful for a business to know that their company can be safe and they can defend themselves in court. Making sure that they can be safer and more prepared in case of an emergency could be really useful.
6/12/2020 12:26:07 pm
It was helpful when you explained why we need to ask lawyers about the possibility of a flat rate and if it would be a better option for us. My brother is looking to hire a defense lawyer so he can dispute the parking ticket he got while shopping in the city earlier this week. I'll have to send him this article so he can more easily prepare to meet with criminal defense lawyers!
6/14/2020 04:27:25 am
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6/16/2020 03:49:31 am
Thank you for sharing this list of tips on how to hire a reliable attorney. I appreciate you mentioning that it is important for us to be mindful of our legal needs prior to hiring a lawyer, such as a specialty like real estate as well as thinking about what type of real estate service do we need. My brother is looking for a real estate lawyer to help him finalize his property deal and I will remind him of this tip.
6/23/2020 11:57:20 am
I'm glad that you mention how there is a wide variety of legal specialties that lawyers can be educated in and focus on, so it's important to figure out which one you need. In order to learn about their specialty, it would probably be best to visit the website of local attorneys to learn about their experience and education. You could also get their contact information to schedule an interview where you can ask questions about their services and discuss your situation in order to find one that you work well with.
7/3/2020 02:30:49 am
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7/6/2020 06:29:38 am
I like what you said about finding an attorney that practices that area of law related to your case. My sister wants to divorce her husband in the coming weeks. I'll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for family lawyers who can help her with this.
7/6/2020 08:30:15 pm
I'm planning to migrate to Canada after this pandemic, but the thing is I would like to hire an immigration attorney who will be able to help me with all the necessary VISA documents. I agree with you that aside from looking for someone competent and experienced, it is also necessary to verify whether the lawyer is reliable. I'd also keep in mind to request a quote and ask about his hourly rate.
7/24/2020 08:36:30 pm
It is good to know that it would be smart to consider finding a lawyer who fits the vertical you need. That does seem like it would help you get a better outcome. I want to create a living will this year and it seems like I should find a will lawyer to help me with that.
7/28/2020 12:53:57 pm
Thanks for sharing all these ideas. Really helpful to motivate any team!
8/13/2020 12:49:13 pm
Thanks for mentioning that you shouldn't be afraid to ask a lawyer for references when choosing one but you don't need referrals if your attorney came from one. My sister-in-law is considering looking for a law firm to help get compensation after she was involved in an auto accident last week on the highway and injured her left wrist. I think it's a wise idea for my sister-in-law to contemplate hiring a reputable professional to help her with her case so that she gets the compensation she needs to help with her medical bills related to the accident.
8/20/2020 11:54:02 pm
Thanks for your tips! Highly Appreciated!
9/2/2020 06:20:46 pm
I liked that you explained that it would be smart to consider the personality of the lawyer you are thinking about hiring. Personally, I would want to get an expert on how is confident but also humble. That way, they don't get into any fights with the other lawyers or the judge.
9/11/2020 10:50:26 am
I like that you recommend making sure that you hire a lawyer that is competent and experienced in your area of concern. My husband and I have been thinking about looking for an estate lawyer, and we are looking for advice. I will make sure that I start looking for the right attorney to work with.
9/17/2020 10:57:51 am
I am looking for advice to be able to hire a lawyer to file a social security claim. I like that you recommend making sure that I consider a lawyer that knows about my legal needs, and has an excellent history in this matter. I will start looking for a reputable SS attorney to be able to go through this process easily.
9/23/2020 11:34:13 am
Thanks for explaining how you should try and find a good lawyer through referral. I need a lawyer for my son who is in his twenties but he got a DUI over the weekend. I'll ask my friends and family but I'll also check online too.
9/24/2020 02:42:03 pm
I agree with this article. It is indeed important to choose the right and the best lawyer. The content is very much useful. Great work.
10/6/2020 07:57:32 am
I like that you said when interviewing an attorney, I should ask them about their experience and if they're competent to handle my particular case. My brother is asking for my help in looking for a debt collection attorney. I'll call him later and offer the tips you mentioned to help him in choosing the best lawyer in town. Thanks!
10/8/2020 06:23:27 am
I like that you recommend interviewing my prospective lawyer to get to know them a little better and see who do I click with the most. My husband and I are going through some legal issues that need to be totally clarified, and we are looking for advice to work with the best lawyer. We'll definitely follow your advice to ensure we make the best decision and get the best help.
10/19/2020 12:57:45 am
You made a good point when you mentioned hiring a lawyer that is specialized in the nature of your legal need. My uncle used to work in a mine and he had to stop working since he was diagnosed with pneumoconiosis due to over exposure to coal dust. I will suggest him to hire an attorney who is experienced in this case to help fight for his right.
10/21/2020 04:58:44 am
You made a good point when you mentioned hiring a lawyer who is specialized in the specific legal case. A friend of mine just obtained a license as a chiropractor after taking the course for so long. I will suggest her to hire an attorney who can help protect it by making sure that he has a background in this area of practice.
10/26/2020 10:55:23 pm
I do agree that when choosing a personal injury attorney, it is important for us to consider their affordability as it will impact our costs. My friend needs to hire an attorney after an accident. I will remind him to consider their availability and affordability.
10/27/2020 03:14:27 pm
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11/27/2020 07:13:20 am
Glad to see such a great post with us. There are a good number of reputed lawyers here in Dubai.
12/10/2020 08:46:31 pm
I definitely agree with you that it is important for us to be informed of our legal needs before deciding on an attorney. The other day my friend mentioned he needed to hire an attorney for a personal injury case. I will ask him to be informed of what he actually needs from an attorney before randomly meeting prospective attornies.
12/17/2020 02:07:48 pm
Thanks for these great tips on how to find a reputable attorney. My sister is hoping to find a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes. She has a friend that she's trying to help.
12/23/2020 01:19:50 pm
I'm glad you mentioned how important it is to interview your prospective attorney before choosing him. In my opinion, hiring a lawyer is a complex process, in which you need to check his experience and if you get along well. I appreciate you helping me learn more about how to select the best lawyer for you.
12/30/2020 01:11:58 pm
I agree that hiring an attorney who is competent and experienced is a good idea. They'll know exactly what you need to do. They can also get all the work done that they can and explain whatever else you have to do.
1/20/2021 12:23:43 am
Thanks for sharing this article, I can definitely learn something from this.
2/10/2021 08:07:00 am
It really helped when you said a good divorce lawyer needs to have experience in the field to deliver a quality job. The other day, my mom called me and said one of her friends found her husband was cheating on her and that she's asking for a divorce. She also mentioned the whole situation got worse when her friend found out the other mistress was her friend's sister, so my mother wants to help her friend find a good lawyer. That's why I believe your information will help us find it. We appreciate your tips about what to consider when you're looking for a lawyer.
2/12/2021 02:43:01 am
Content here based on how to select the lawyer. Anyone searching for same topic may find their shelter here. I am sure many people will come to read this in future. Great blog indeed, will visit again future to read more. You have done a great research for I feel, thanks for sharing.
2/16/2021 11:36:37 pm
This is really helpful and informative article. thanks for sharing this.
Thanks for mentioning how you should look for referrals when looking for an attorney. It is important to consider this to make sure the lawyer you choose has a good reputation. Personally, I found like to find someone that has experience with the type of case I have in order to get the best results.
3/23/2021 07:28:42 am
My friend was denied a job, and he believes it was because of his race. I'll make sure that he knows to get a lawyer that specializes in that kind of law. That seems like a great way to ensure that he gets compensated for the injustice.
4/2/2021 10:14:38 am
Assuming that I need to hire an attorney, it makes sense for us to ensure that they are qualified. It makes sense for us to check on their credentials as it will impact how they handle our case. I will definitely be mindful when I choose an attorney to hire.
4/7/2021 10:15:21 pm
I do agree that it is important for us to interview all the attornies. In doing so, we will be able to ask about their experience and skills. It makes sense as surely we would want to hire the best attorney for our endeavours.
Thanks for mentioning the importance of knowing what type of case you want and finding an attorney that has experience with it. I can see that doing this can help you avoid issues with putting your case together and get the best results you can. My brother is having some issues with immigration and needs someone that can help him file the proper documents, so I'll share this site with him to help him out.
4/29/2021 03:12:24 pm
Thanks for the attorney selection tips. I would like to find a DWI lawyer. I will have to make sure I find someone with experience.
5/20/2021 01:39:36 pm
Thank you for your tips on how to choose the best lawyer. I agree that it is smart to ask for references from an attorney. I think it would be beneficial to find a lawyer that specializes in your specific case.
8/18/2021 01:02:23 pm
It's great that you mentioned that you shouldn't be afraid to interview multiple people when looking to hire a family lawyer. I would think that it would be a good idea to make sure that you get all of your questions answered when you are meeting with a lawyer. Having an unanswered question could make it harder to pick out a lawyer.
9/24/2021 06:57:11 am
I want to get my estate planned out, but I'm not sure what to do about it. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional lawyer to help me out with this! That seems like a good way to ensure that I get everything organized properly.
10/6/2021 03:09:36 pm
Selecting the right attorney is a time-consuming, but important process. You can consult law firm websites, online resources, bar associations or other referral networks.
10/6/2021 03:41:11 pm
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10/13/2021 12:30:49 am
When choosing the best lawyer in Dubai, you should be wary of their reputation, experience, and many other aspects. Thank you for this great read.
10/19/2021 08:27:46 am
Thank you for explaining how to interview attorneys. My cousin is looking to make a will and has been wondering what he should be looking for in an attorney. I'm sure this will help him find what he's looking for.
11/29/2021 04:13:17 pm
I like your legal tips. I need a new lawyer. We want to settle a dispute with our neighbors.
2/23/2022 09:06:04 am
You made an interesting point when you explained that it is a good idea to tap your network when you are looking for a lawyer. I would think that it would be a good idea to talk with your coworkers and see if they have any lawyer recommendations. If you have a lot of coworkers, you will probably be able to cast a wide net that can help you find the right attorney to work with.
3/11/2022 12:25:02 pm
If you belong to a networking group or chamber of commerce, I suggest kicking the tires on a lawyer in the group. I truly appreciate your great post!
3/25/2022 12:02:05 pm
Would you rather hire a lawyer who knows a little about many practice areas, irrelevant to you, Thank you for making this such an awesome post!
3/25/2022 12:36:20 pm
I do litigation and transactional work. This often bleeds into related fields, such as real estate, employment and consumer law, I truly appreciate your great post!
3/29/2022 04:10:11 am
I was captivated when you shared we should hire an attorney that practices the nature of our legal needs. That's probably why my friend is looking for an estate planning lawyer since she needs help with estate planning. I'll make sure to hire also a lawyer in that area of practice.
5/25/2022 10:50:08 am
Thank you for your advice on how to interview attorneys. I've been wondering how to go about doing this so we can find someone to help us with some real estate matters. I'll have to keep your advice in mind while we talk to the lawyers on our shortlist.
It really helped when you said that we should interview a couple of attorneys so that we can find the best fit with the right chemistry, experience, and rates for us. I hope that my mom can find a real estate lawyer like that because she needs help with getting the property of my grandparents named after her. My grandparents were not able to have a will and testament made that is why she has to process this now.
6/14/2022 07:23:09 am
Picking a lawyer is kind of like picking a doctor. You want someone who is specialized in the area you need help and you should probably get a second opinion before choosing a plan of action.
8/9/2022 04:39:06 pm
I agree that you should network to find the right lawyer. I need to get a lawyer to defend my sister in court. I'll have to consider hiring someone with good online reviews.
11/15/2022 04:54:22 pm
I never realized how powerful SEO is for finding a lawyer. My wife needs a lawyer for her divorce. I'll have to hire someone with good online reviews.
12/6/2022 12:20:53 pm
It makes sense that you should find an attorney who is experienced in cases like mine. My sister was at my house yesterday afternoon for lunch, and she talked about how she needs to help her friend with finding an immigration attorney. I'll pass these tips along to her so she can know how to find a good lawyer!
12/21/2022 10:20:25 am
My sister was telling me that she's not sure if or why she would need to interview any potential lawyers after her accident. Thank you for explaining how the interview process is to help figure out if you're a good fit for each other. I'll have to pass this on to her so she can be sure to not skip this step.
2/24/2023 02:39:45 am
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2/24/2023 02:58:04 am
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