I am Joe Taraska, a trial attorney with Morgan and Morgan. Over the last 38 years of practice one of the most frequent questions I hear is “how do I select an attorney”. In that this person will be the one to stand by you and your family during a time of great need the choice must be carefully made. So how do you do it?
First, consider the type of case you will be pursuing. Many are complex and require the skill of an attorney who specializes in that area of the law. For example if you are looking into a medical error you want a lawyer who primarily handles that type of litigation. The reason is that the laws that apply to different causes vary greatly. In Medical malpractice there are a number of procedural hurdles which if not followed exactly may lead to your case being dismissed. A specialist will be familiar with these and understand how to protect you. Advertising in this day and age is a well recognized and acceptable way to obtain the name of such an attorney or firm as well as word of mouth. When you speak with him discuss his area of expertise.
Second, Consider the education, training, and experience of the attorney. This includes his experience in the courtroom. To be effective an attorney must be an experienced litigator and one whom the community recognizes as being willing to take your case to court. If he is so recognized it is much more likely that your case will settle such that your family is fairly compensated. In this regard, you should not be shy about asking an attorney you are interviewing how many cases he has tried and what is his success rate.
Third, A law firm that handles cases on a contingency basis is most likely going to front the costs of the litigation. As a result, you need to be sure that they have sufficient assets to cover not only your case but all the others they have agreed to handle. You do not want to be in a circumstance where the firm is not able to retain the best resources to support your case. As above ask how they intend to finance your litigation.
Fourth, be cautious about companies that simply offer to find you an attorney. These are not necessarily a poor choice as the bar (attorney organization) of your state may offer such a free service. However some may be nothing more than an organization that refers you to others on a fee per referral basis. This is not the same as you selecting an attorney you trust and allowing him to refer you to another in his firm or another firm that is more specialized in the field. However, even in this event, you want to ensure that you have properly evaluated this attorney as described above.