How to Find a Lawyer

How to Find a Lawyer

by Michelle Fabio, Esq., April 2015

Although an attorney isn’t always necessary when dealing with legal situations, if you’ve decided you want to hire a lawyer, you may now be wondering how you go about finding a good one.

What follows is some advice to help you find an attorney, as well as questions you should ask when narrowing down your choices.

Before you begin your search to find a lawyer, however, do remember that there are different types of lawyers, from estate planning to criminal defense, so focus on attorneys who practice the kind of law for which you need legal advice.

How to Find a Lawyer

1. Ask around among your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances to see if they know of any attorneys they could recommend. Personal references can be some of the most reliable references you will find.

2. Ask a lawyer you trust, even if they don’t practice in the area of law in which you need legal help; they may be able to recommend colleagues who can handle your case.

3. Run an attorney search at databases such as Avvo and Martindale Hubbell, which provide information such as practice areas, location, disciplinary records, and lawyer reviews.

4. Consult your local or state bar association’s attorney directory, which is a list of lawyers in your area.

5. Consider affordable options such as LegalZoom's legal plans, which provide solid legal advice from attorneys who don't charge expensive hourly fees.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer

Now that you have some attorney options , it’s time to choose. To get you started, here’s a list of questions to ask the attorney:

1. Do you provide a free consultation? If not, how much does the initial interview cost?

2. How long have you been in practice?

3. How much experience do you have in cases like mine, and more importantly, what were the outcomes of those cases?

4. Have you ever been the subject of a disciplinary action?

5. What are your fees? What services are included? How do you expect to be paid (lump sum, installments, etc.)? Are your fees or fee structure negotiable?

6. What is your caseload currently like? Do you have the time to commit to my case?

More Considerations When Hiring a Lawyer

One way to get a feel for an attorney’s practice is to be observant when you go for your first consultation. Take special note of the way his or her office is run, whether there is sufficient support staff, and how professionally you are treated. Pay attention to factors such as how long it took for the attorney to return your initial contact.

It is also within your rights as a potential client to ask an attorney for references from past or present clients.

Finally, but perhaps the most important thing for you to consider when hiring a lawyer: your instinct. You need to feel extremely comfortable with the person who will represent you and your interests, especially as you will likely be sharing private details about your life and possibly putting your future in his or her hands.

If something just feels off, you should move on and find an attorney with whom you do have a better rapport.

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