What Should I Look for When Hiring an Attorney?
Ryan Zavodnick | July 5, 2018 | Video
What you should look for when hiring a personal injury attorney, I think first and foremost, is a recommendation or referral. That’s and old-fashioned way of doing things and it used to be when somebody needed an attorney, they asked a friend, a co-worker, a family member for a recommendation, and that’s how they select an attorney; based on a recommendation from someone they trust as to an individual attorney who had done a good job for that person in the past.
Nowadays, you can’t really drive anywhere or go anywhere without seeing billboards, advertisements, television commercials, all telling you how great the attorneys are on the billboard or in the commercial. People, I think, make the mistake of relying on those advertisements to choose attorneys, and then they’re often disappointed in the result because once they get there and they’d hire that attorney, they find that they’re just a number, they’re just one of many clients who the attorney really isn’t interested in representing or paying attention to.
You won’t see our firm on billboards, we don’t advertise, we do things the way it used to be done in the way we prefer to have it done, which is word-of-mouth. We get our clients from other clients who we’ve done a good job for in the past.
Another thing you want to make sure, is that when you make it to the attorney’s office and sit down and have the initial consultation, that you actually like the attorney.
That’s an important issue, an important factor, that is often overlooked. Many times, people hire an attorney simply because they think that attorney is the best in his or her profession, and they don’t really like the attorney, and the attorney may not like them.
And that’s critical because you’re going to be spending a lot of time, and having many conversations with the attorney throughout the course of your case, and you want make sure that you like that person, that you relate to that person, and that you trust that person. It cuts both ways. The attorney has to make sure that you’re the right fit for the firm and that you’re somebody that he or she can trust to be honest and forthcoming with information.
The third thing that’s important to keep in mind, is you want to make sure when you hire an attorney, that attorney is going to handle your case. You wouldn’t go to a doctor’s office and schedule a surgery only to find out that the surgeon you selected is not going to actually perform your surgery, it’s going to be somebody else you’ve never met. I realize that does happen, unfortunately, in the medical profession as well, but with attorneys, you can make sure that when you speak to an attorney, that that person’s going to handle your case.
You should ask that question: are you personally going to be handling my case? So that you know, whether you got to that office through word of mouth recommendation or by responding to a billboard or other advertisement, that the person you hire is going to handle your case.
A sign that that person may not handle your case, is when you’re meeting with intake coordinators or non-attorneys initially following your injury or accident that should be a clear indication that the attorney doesn’t have enough time to meet with you and doesn’t intend to handle your case personally. If that’s not something you’re OK with, you should thank that attorney or intake coordinator for his or her time and move on and keep looking.
You want to make sure that when you meet with an attorney, that they don’t make promises of dollar values and settlements during the initial consultation. It’s not possible for an attorney, during the initial consultation, to estimate the value of a case without seeing medical records, without having a clear picture of who’s at fault, or what happened at work, or whatever the case may be. So when an attorney starts promising you big settlements from the get-go, you should pack your stuff up, and run the other way.
Lastly, you want to make sure that when you meet with an attorney, that they explain the process to you. Many attorneys are so busy, that they simply sit down and say “sign here, sign there, OK we’ll take it from here.” Well, this is your case, and this is your life, and this hopefully will be the first and only time you have to hire an attorney to represent you in an accident case.
You want to make sure that you understand what’s going to happen, how long it’s going to take, and obviously there are estimates and ranges, but you want to make sure that you know what’s going to happen from the time you hire the attorney until the time the case is resolved by a settlement or a trial. Otherwise, you’re going to be in the dark and you’re going to have questions throughout that should have been answered initially.
Lastly, you want to make sure that when you meet with the attorney, and you discuss the case with him or her and talk to any staff, secretaries, paralegals, legal assistants, that everyone seems happy. Because if you look around and people don’t seem happy to be there, and the staff isn’t happy to be there, that’s probably a good indication that you may wind up not liking this attorney or law firm as well.