Five Important Tips on Choosing Law Firms
One major factor that insurance agencies evaluate when determining how to move forward with a claim is who’s representing the petitioner. If the insurance agency doesn’t respect who’s representing you, they may vilify your claim and offer less money. It is thus important to carefully consider your choice of attorney.
How to choose? Many law firms advertise as being “specialists” for prosecuting “serious injuries,” but, when serious cases arise, they contract with other law firms to handle them. It is also worth noting that a flashy website does not indicate that a firm is qualified to take your case. Here are some tips for hiring the best lawyer.
Referrals From Attorneys & Professionals
Your divorce attorney (if you have one) may know someone whose expertise is better suited for your case. Most referrals accepted by law firms come from attorneys or other professionals in the field, such as paralegals and law clerks.
Legal & Moral Philosophy
There are lawyers out there who just want to make a quick buck (or thousands of bucks). Ask the attorney why he/she handles personal injury (PI) claims specifically. Their answers may reveal important characteristics about them, such as integrity, and legal and moral philosophy. Ask yourself, “Is this the kind of person I want representing me in court?”
Handling Your Claim
Inquire about who is going to handle your claim; is it the attorney? a paralegal? a clerk? is it going to be outsourced? Many firms assign most of their work to non-JD holding paralegals, clerks and associate attorneys with very little experience. Smaller firms tend to be less like a factory (e.g., a lead attorney performs the bulk of work, each document is carefully read) whereas larger firms tend to operate more like assembly lines (e.g., legal documents are briefly scanned by an associate then sent to paralegal for rubber stamping). Both are highly effective, but conduct a little research before signing your case over to either type.
Don’t hesitate to ask about someone’s credentials, including experience in trying cases similar to yours. Ask the attorney if they have any published articles, such as a legal journal. Ask if they’ve attended or spoken at any legal seminars. These are signs of respect that other attorneys have for the skill and knowledge of their peer.
There are reasons why lawyers have a bad name–many of them deserve it. Lawyers typically know who’s ethical and who’s not. Consumers, unfortunately, may not. Contact the State Bar and check the list for attorneys who’ve been subjected to ethical discipline.
Most reputable law firms will offer to take your case on a “contingency.” This means they receive no compensation unless you do. Offering to prosecute your case on contingency does not necessarily mean your case is a guaranteed winner. Contingency is a marketing strategy used by law firms to attract business. Many attorneys will work on a contingency basis whether they advertise it or not, so be sure to discuss payment with your potential lawyer.