Whether you slipped and fell at a grocery store or face discrimination in the workplace, you might want to seek monetary damages by filing a civil lawsuit. However, you have never worked with an attorney before, which begs the question, what is the process for hiring your first-ever lawyer? If you have hired an attorney to represent you in the past, you probably have a good idea about how to find the best attorney for your case.
However, for a first-time client looking for legal representation, the process for hiring the first attorney can seem complicated and awash with plenty of uncertainty.
The process for hiring your first ever lawyer unfolds about the same for almost every type of practice. For example, seeking an estate planning lawyer for the first time requires you to follow many of the same steps you follow for hiring a personal injury attorney for the first time. Once you go through the process for hiring your first ever lawyer, you can follow the same process the second time around.
One of the advantages of hiring a lawyer from Morgan & Morgan is we make the process for hiring a first ever lawyer easy to complete. Simply schedule a free case evaluation and come to the meeting prepared to ask and answer several questions. When you contact us to schedule a free case evaluation, we will discuss the types of questions you should ask, as well as the types of questions you should be prepared to answer.
Another advantage of choosing Morgan & Morgan as the law firm for your first attorney is we practice a wide variety of law throughout the United States. For example, you can hire us to represent you in settling a business contract dispute, and then reach out to us a couple of years down the road for workers’ compensation support.
How Do I Prepare for a First-Time Case Evaluation?
A free case evaluation can run between 15 minutes and two hours, but most free case evaluations take about one hour. The amount of time you spend at a case evaluation depends on the type of law, as well as the complexity of your case.
Let’s see how you should prepare for a free case evaluation for the first time.
Bring the Right Documents
The attorney sitting across from you during a case evaluation wants to review the evidence you have gathered and organized. This can include the official police report for an auto accident to camera footage at work that presents what happened before, during, and after you got hurt on the job. You need to bring the names and contact information of every witness and the medical records you have compiled if you received one or more injuries.
Estate planning cases require prospective clients to hand over documents that are pertinent for any estate planning issues. For instance, if you want to set up a trust, you should bring the name of the trustee and a list of beneficiaries. For any tax or business finance issues, you need to hand over the appropriate financial statements to the lawyer attending the case evaluation.
Get Ready for the Q&A Session
As the most important part of a case evaluation, you get the opportunity to ask questions and answer the questions posed by the attorney. You create a list of questions for the legal issues you do not understand. For a civil lawsuit filed for a personal injury case, you can ask how long is the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. You also might want to know the meaning of legal terms such as negligence and punitive damages.
You should prepare to answer the questions given to you when you made your phone call to schedule a free case evaluation. Questions like “What do you want to get out of filing a lawsuit” and “Are you willing to accept a negotiated settlement” give the attorney attending the meeting an idea about your goals and knowledge of certain legal terms.
Honesty is one of the most important attributes of a highly skilled litigator. It also is one of the most important attributes you need to demonstrate during a meeting with a lawyer for the first time. The process for hiring your first ever lawyer can end abruptly if a lawyer detects you are hiding something or slanting the story in your favor.
For example, if you accuse a police officer of wrongful arrest and you were overly aggressive before the arrest, you must tell the criminal defense lawyer sitting across from you the truth about the incident. Another example of dishonesty occurs when a potential client lies about how fast he or she operated a motor vehicle before getting involved in an auto accident.
What Is the Process for Hiring Your First Ever Lawyer?
From a breach of warranty case to a complicated real estate contract, hiring an attorney for the first time requires you to follow a series of steps. First, you need to know what to look for when hiring legal counsel. Then, you should utilize a few resources that direct you to the right legal representation for your case.
Select the Right Lawyer
Most areas of law represent broad categories that break down into legal specializations. The first step in the process for hiring your first ever lawyer involves ensuring the attorneys on your shortlist of candidates practice the type of law associated with your case. If you received one or more injuries caused by the negligence of another party, you want more than just a personal injury lawyer. You want legal counsel who specializes in your type of personal injury case. For example, if you suffered injuries caused by a defective product, you want a product liability attorney to handle your case.
Experience Obtaining Favorable Results
An experienced lawyer should be able to demonstrate a record of success when it comes to getting favorable results for clients. Whether you want to negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit, the lawyers on your shortlist must prove they have won civil cases and negotiated favorable settlements for more than 10 years. At Morgan & Morgan, we have recovered monetary damages for clients since 1988.
Handles Your Case From Start to Finish
Although you meet with a state-licensed lawyer who specializes in your type of case, that does not mean the attorney will handle every phase of your case. Some attorneys delegate legal tasks to other lawyers and/or paralegals. One of the first questions you should ask any attorney on your shortlist is “Will you handle my case from start to finish.”
When you hire your first attorney, you want to make sure the lawyer listens to your concerns and follows your instructions. A responsive lawyer promptly returns emails and phone calls. You should learn how responsive an attorney is during a free case evaluation. Responsive communication helps mitigate the stress and anxiety you feel because you are hiring legal counsel for the first time.
Charges a Contingency Fee
Working with a lawyer who charges by the hour can quickly rack up legal bills that run into thousands of dollars. Unless your case involves a criminal charge, you want to work with legal counsel that charges on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney gets paid when you either win a legal judgment or receive a favorable settlement. The lawyer handling your case receives a percentage of the money awarded to you through litigation or negotiations.
Read the Reviews Left by Clients
You end the process for hiring your first ever lawyer by reading online client reviews on sites such as Google and Facebook. Online client reviews should not be the sole determinant in your decision-making process. Instead, online reviews should confirm the analysis you have made up to this point about the legal credentials of the candidates on your shortlist.
How Do I Search for the Best Attorney?
Now that you know the steps of the process for hiring your first ever lawyer, you should start utilizing resources to connect you with the best legal counsel. Once upon a time in the United States, potential clients accessed the Yellow Pages to find a lawyer for the first time. Big, colorful ads presented the legal credentials of attorneys who specialized in different practices.
Now, the Internet represents a rich source for finding lawyers, but one old-school strategy remains a powerful way to connect you with the best attorney.
Recommendations From Friends and Family Members
When you buy a new car, you probably ask trusted friends and family members about where to look for your dream vehicle. The same principle applies to hiring the best attorney. Ask trusted friends and relatives for recommendations and if you strike out at home, expand your network to include your neighbors and professional peers.
Recommendations From Attorneys
If you know a few lawyers, you should ask them for recommendations of attorneys that specialize in the same area of law associated with your case. For example, if you are engaged in an insurance dispute, you can ask a criminal defense lawyer you know to recommend an experienced attorney who practices insurance law. Getting a recommendation from a lawyer represents an effective way to navigate the process for hiring your first ever lawyer.
State Bar Association
Every state bar association has created a website that includes several resources for potential clients. One popular resource is called “Find a Lawyer,” which is a link that takes you to a large database of attorneys that possess the right professional credentials to practice in your state. You can customize your search by adding factors such as years of experience.
Remember the process for hiring your first ever lawyer does not end simply because you received a recommendation from a trusted source. You still have to vet every candidate on your shortlist by conducting thorough research.
Contact Morgan & Morgan for a Free Case Evaluation
The process for hiring your first ever lawyer can be intimidating because you do not know what to look for in an attorney nor do you know how to search for the best legal counsel. We have presented a blueprint that should make the process for hiring your first ever lawyer much more easy to complete.
Learn more about what Morgan & Morgan has to offer by scheduling a free case evaluation today.