There are many situations that call for the help of a law firm. You might have to settle an estate, or you have to appeal a workers’ compensation claim.
Most of the nation’s 1.3 million lawyers work at law firms. Do a quick search online and you’ll discover that there are dozens of law firms in your area.
How can you make sure that you hire the right one for your case? It’s not easy, but if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to get the best law firm.
This article has you covered, so read on to learn what you need to look for in a law firm.
1. Area of Expertise
You’re hiring a law firm for a specific purpose, whether it’s to start a business or finalize a divorce. You need to make sure your attorney understands the law in your specific area.
The law is extremely broad, and you can’t afford to have a family attorney work on a trademark claim if that’s not their area of expertise.
Use a family lawyer for family law, a personal injury lawyer for personal injury claims, etc.
Some law firms have areas of expertise that are related, such as malpractice and workers’ compensation. These are closely related to personal injury law.
2. Experience and Results
You don’t want to hire an attorney right out of law school. You want to have an attorney who knows the different judges in your area and how they rule on certain legal issues.
The law firm that you hire should have a track record of results. If you hire a personal injury firm, you want to know that they win settlements for their clients. Check out davidaylor.com as an example of a law firm that displays settlement amounts on their site.
3. Personality Compatibility
It’s important to understand the culture of a law firm before you hire them. The culture and values of the law firm should be compatible with your personality and values.
For example, if your personality is casual, the law firm you hire should be a little casual as well. The firm might engage in community involvement activities.
This is important because you need to share personal information with your attorney. You need to make sure you’re comfortable with them.
If you’re not comfortable with your attorney, you might be inclined to hold back information that affects your case.
4. Who Handles Your Case?
Law firms typically have a number of attorneys that specialize in different areas. They also have paralegals to assist the attorneys with casework.
It’s possible to have a consultation with one attorney, and have your case assigned to another attorney. This can be unnerving if you got along with the first attorney really well.
You need to ask who handles your case, whether it’s a team of attorneys or paralegals.
An excellent follow-up question is around communication. If multiple people are working on your case, who is your point of contact for questions?
Ask the law firm how they communicate progress about your case and how often they expect to reach out to you.
5. Cost of Services
One of the most important things that you need to figure out is how you will pay for the law firm. Law firms typically have several different pricing structures. It depends on the type of work they do and how much paperwork is involved.
Some attorneys charge a consultation fee for the first meeting. The reason why is because many people use the free consultation to get as much free legal advice as possible. The consultation fees are a way to separate the tire kickers from people who are serious.
Again, not all attorneys charge a consultation fee. You should ask about this before you book an appointment with a law firm.
If you decide to hire a law firm, you’ll come across three different fee structures. The one you might be most familiar with is the hourly rate. Law firms may charge by billable hours, which range from $100 – $500 an hour.
Anytime they take a call about your case, create paperwork, or answer emails related to your case, they will bill you for it. Law firms usually bill in 15-minute increments, meaning if they worked on your case for a 5-minute phone call, you’ll get billed 15 minutes for it.
Before you hire an attorney that charges an hourly rate, get an estimate of the costs. You’ll be shocked by the attorney’s bill.
For certain cases, a law firm may give you a flat rate. This is for standard work, such as incorporating a business, filing for bankruptcy, or filing a settlement with the IRS.
If an attorney gives you a flat rate, be sure to ask what that includes. There may be additional charges outside the flat fee that you need to know about.
A contingency fee is a fee that’s paid when an attorney wins your case. This is often used in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.
This is good for you because you don’t pay the attorney anything if you don’t receive a settlement. When you do get a settlement, the law firm usually gets 30% of it.
Worker’s compensation cases are different because the fees are set by the state. This is usually around 15%.
Hiring the Best Law Firm
It doesn’t matter why you need to hire a law firm. These tips walk you through the steps to hire the best law firm for your needs.
The law firm you choose should be empathetic, have the necessary experience, and are located in your state. It does take a little work, but you’ll be able to hire the right firm and win your case.
Need more legal tips? Check out the Law section of this site.