We believe that most lawyers are competent professionals. We know, unfortunately, that some are not. These tips will help you find the right lawyer for you.
- Trust your gut: If the lawyer seems too slick or uncaring, he or she is probably not the lawyer for you. Some lawyers simply are not competent and are not willing to do the work to develop and handle their cases. This is not what you are looking for if you are dealing with a serious personal injury or significant legal matter.
- Avoid ambulance chasers: Did you know it’s perfectly legal for a lawyer in Alabama to send you a letter saying that they want to represent you, so long as they wait thirty (30) days after the accident. Some lawyers order all the police reports in a county relative to car accidents, then send the victims a letter. We recently had a client that received this type of letter from a lawyer all the way down in Mobile, Alabama. These things are legal, but they are sleazy. We don’t do these things. If you hire one of these attorneys you very well may be hiring an ambulance chaser. It’s not as bad as the lawyer that shows up at the hospital (yes this happens) or at your door (that too), but it’s still bad. Be highly suspicious of a someone that contacts you. Ask yourself, if this lawyer was as good as he says he is, would he have to resort to these sleazy tactics to get business?
- Do your homework: Has the lawyer or the firm been peer reviewed? Has he or she be recognized by industry groups for competence? Is his or her best reference a fancy television commercial? One place to check out a lawyer is www.avvo.com. Lawyers have profiles, ratings (done by Avvo, not the lawyers), and a place for clients and other lawyers to endorse the lawyer in question.
- Get it in writing: It is very surprising at how many attorneys have cases with clients where they never enter in to a formal written agreement with them. It’s bad for them and bad for the client. If you hire a personal injury lawyer for a serious injury and they tell you verbally that they won’t ask you to reimburse expenses if they lose, get it in writing. In Alabama, a contingency fee agreement MUST be in writing according to Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5. If your criminal attorney says the case will be handled on a flat fee, get it in writing. If a divorce lawyer says their hourly rate is $250 and you’ll get an itemized bill every month. Get it in writing.
- Demand good customer service: You deserve returned phone calls. You deserve to be treated with respect. If your gut (see Rule Number 1) tells you a lawyer does not care about you or your situation, perhaps that is not the lawyer for you. If you do not get good service from your lawyer, maybe you should find a new lawyer.
Nothing can guarantee that you won’t hire a bad attorney (unless you hire our firm). But if you follow these tips, you will avoid the sleazy ones.