5 Steps To Finding A Lawyer PART 2 OF A SERIES

Starting with the basics will help simplify your search

research capabilities. Is the firm tied into legal databases such as Lexis-Nexis, and does it have its own library? The more access a law firm has to legal precedents, the better it can represent you. Also, find out about any disciplinary problems the lawyer has had by calling the local bar association.

  • Select a specialist. “You need to get someone who has handled that particular issue before,” explains Diane Sumpter of DESA Inc., a management consulting firm in Columbia, South Carolina. “While the lawyer you know and have always used may have lower fees than an expert, it will probably take longer and ultimately cost more for the lawyer to educate him- or herself,” Sumpter explains.
  • Specialists can be necessary when dealing with issues chat are controversial, such as malpractice, says Mabel Gold Haden of the National Association of Black Women Attorneys. “If it’s a case that not all lawyers can do, then you have to find someone who knows the territory and has a track record,” she says.
  • Use your resources. Directories such as the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory can be found in public or law libraries, online or via Lexis- Nexis and CD-ROM. The directory can be used to find lawyers and search by specialty.
  • Consult your local bar association for a list of all attorneys admitted to practice in a particular locale. The media can be another source. If you read or hear about a lawyer who is handling a similar case, you can follow up with a phone call. Even if that lawyer is too high profile for your needs, their office can probably refer you to someone else.
    It’s key to meet with the prospective lawyer for an initial consultation. Make it clear when you set up the appointment that you are expecting a free consultation to get to know the attorney. Don’t seek legal advice or commit to engaging this lawyer, or you could be billed for your misunderstanding. Make sure you feel comfortable with the person you’re dealing with, since it may ultimately turn into an extended period of time. If you don’t get a good feeling for the lawyer you’ve met with, then you’d better continue to shop around.

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