The 8 criteria for choosing a lawyer

A good attorney can make the difference between peace of mind and disaster. Here are a few guidelines that may help you choose the right attorney for your needs:

1. First, determine and define your legal need(s). If you need help with this process, get help! Understanding your legal need will save you money and time. Asking a trusted friend, taking advantage of a free consultation with an attorney, reading legal blogs and otherwise researching your issues are all good preliminary steps in this process.

2. Based on Step 1 above, determine what type of attorney you need and what skills he/she should have. Also decide whether you prefer to work with a solo practitioner, a small firm, medium firm or large firm. This choice can have many implications on how your case is handled. All sizes of firms have pros and cons.  If necessary, get help with this decision-making process. It is worth it!

3. Get a recommendation! Ask friends, relatives and business associates to recommend a good attorney.

4. Personality matters! Meet your prospective attorney and get a feel for his or her personality.

5. Communication style matters! How prompt is your prospective attorney at returning phone calls and/or e-mails? Is he/she clear in his/her communications with you?

6. Research your prospective attorney. Verify his/her bar standing with the bar association of the state where he/she is licensed. Google him/her. Ask questions. Check out Utah attorneys at http://utahbar.org/public/lawyer_referral_service_main.html.

7. If hiring an attorney who works for a law firm, find out how stable the firm is. Find out how long this firm’s present attorneys have worked for the firm. Try to track down former employees of the firm and ask questions. A high attorney turnover rate in a law firm may be symptomatic of dysfunctions that may impact your case.

8. Interview several attorneys. Steer clear of attorneys who seem primarily motivated by financial gain or who “badmouth” other attorneys. In addition to the objective criteria listed above, take into consideration your intuition.

Take the time to choose the right attorney for your case. Whether you need an attorney to help you with a short-term problem, or seeking to establish a long-term relationship with a firm or attorney, the time you invest in this process is a valuable investment.

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