Life is not a black or white situation in which things always work out equally. Bad people with ill intentions exist in the world, and sometimes they harm others without any thought to what the consequences will bring on those lives who were harmed. In a similar vein, accidents happen that nobody ever meant to engage in. From the stereotypical car crash to a neglected pipe flooding a neighbor’s apartment, people’s lives get intertwined in ways that cause harm to property and liberty. This is where the law comes in, and where both sides need to find an attorney.
The problem is not necessarily finding an attorney, they are as common and ubiquitous as bail bondsmen and car mechanics. The trick, and where most people get themselves into less than ideal situations, is trying to find an attorney that fits their specific needs and is affordable and available. Attorneys commonly have many clients at one time, and while it would be nice if they could focus entirely on you, many have to take out blocks of time to concentrate on your case until it is completed. Depending on the amount of billable hours you can afford, this can work for or against you.
In this article, we’ll go over how to find an attorney that fits what legal situation you’re going through. Since one lawyer rarely fits all, you’ll have to specify whether you’re trying a civil or criminal case and what your goals are at the end of the day. Hiring an accident lawyer to pursue damages in a car crash is much different than prosecuting a murder or burglary, so you’ll want someone who knows their specialty. At the end of the day, you want to either seek justice or be compensated for damages and should proceed appropriately and with caution.
When in Doubt, Do Some Research
So something bad has happened in your life, and now you think you want to find an attorney that can help you to seek out some sort of recourse. Whether it is a situation of justice where you have been wrongly maligned (usually a criminal case) or simply a situation of one civilian screwing you over in some way (a civil case), the outcomes and cost can vary widely. While you don’t want to waste precious time, you also don’t want to get in over your head and let this issue consume your life in a negative way.
If you were injured at work, perhaps in a slip and fall, you may think that you have a cut and dry case for getting a slip & fall attorney and pursuing damages. While this seems logical, it entirely depends on the state and locality that you live in. In the rare cases where some injury you’ve sustained is in a government building or federal property, it may get even more complicated. Before you get yourself all worked up and into an attorney’s office, do a bit of internet research after seeing a doctor for a check-up. Another professional, such as the doctor that evaluates you, may be able to recommend whether you have a case or not.
A quick internet search will yield dozens of reliable legal articles in plain terms that will tell you whether it is worth pursuing a case or not. This may include relevant statistics such as how many of these cases in your state end up going to trial, what the final settlement amount is, or how much you can expect to pay in court costs. Armed with this basic legal information, it is then much more practical and easy to try and find an attorney that is compatible with the outcome that you’re trying to pursue. Whether this is an injury attorney or tax compliance attorney is interchangeable with the specifics of your case.
Check If Local Legal Associations Can Recommend Lawyers
Some specialties of law, such as the National Elder Law Foundation or National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, will easily be able to pull from a database to recommend qualified lawyers to you. So if you’re pursuing a work-related injury and seeking the perfect workers comp attorney, you should check if your state or locality has a ready-made database that you can pull from to find your perfect fit. This may be easily accessible over the internet or might entail you actually calling an office and making a request.
In a similar vein, when you’re trying to find an attorney it can be helpful to search online through large databases such as findlaw.com or other resources. But take these with a grain of salt, in a similar way to browsing through the Yellow Pages to find a business or calling a phone number on a billboard. It’s not that these are scams or “fake lawyers,” but sometimes advertising is just that. Nobody can ever promise you the moon and deliver, so don’t be surprised if contacting some of these larger legal agencies is an ordeal in itself. They do end up trying cases and sometimes win a lot of money, but often clients have to agree to certain circumstances so that the large firm is still profitable. Whether you need legal help to pursue firearms sales in your area or you’re taking someone to court, always get the conditions of your case in writing and ask as many questions as you need to be clear on what is happening.
The last tip for finding a good lawyer via recommendations is by word of mouth. Whether it is a legal association that recommends them or a person familiar to you that had a good experience, it is the social proof that counts the most. When someone vouches for another person’s competency, they are also taking their professional career into their hands. Normally, people don’t do that unless the person is worth their salt because they also don’t want to look bad. So you can be reasonably sure that if an environmental lawyer or personal injury law firm is being recommended to you by someone else there is a high likelihood that they’ll do a decent job.
Are You Pursuing a Civil or Criminal Case?
When trying to find an attorney that will satisfy your legal needs, it’s important to know whether you are pursuing a civil or criminal case. The difference is entirely about how long the trial will go on and whether or not you’re trying to see justice, financial compensation, or a bit of both. Many people who pursue civil suits, whether they be a dispute over a will or a property infraction, don’t really want to see the other person locked behind bars. In fact, there are an estimated $233 billion dollars in costs associated with U.S. civil lawsuits each year in the United States.
But when you’re trying to pursue justice related to a loved one’s murder that involves an illegal firearm sale, a civil suit won’t cut it. In situations like these, you’ll want to find an attorney that is competent about how the whole process should work and will gather evidence to find justice in every way possible. Regardless of whether there are financial damages that will be awarded to you, that is not particularly the point of a case like this. You’d like to see the person that caused this irreparable harm removed from society, not dollars in your bank account.
Criminal and civil suits have wildly different outcomes and may sometimes go to different courts entirely. There is a family law court for child custody disputes, and it does not interact with many of the same people or services that prosecute grand theft auto or more serious charges. By knowing exactly how serious your case is and what it entails, you will be able to find an attorney that is willing to pursue your specific goals and make outcomes that will be suitable to both of you.
Can You Trust Your Lawyer?
When you’re trying to find an attorney to help you right wrongs and pursue compensation for damages, you need to be able to fully trust them. In the same way that a therapist or counselor has to be the right fit for you, so does a lawyer have to earn your trust in a full and comprehensive manner so that information can be shared freely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer for any reason, you are free to pursue using another professional that you think will be more suitable for you.
Aside from doubting their professional competency or looking at their litigation record, just simply being incompatible with a lawyer from a personality perspective may disqualify them in your eyes. For example, if you’re describing how you had to have an ankle twist treatment at home done because of a work injury and your attorney laughs, you have every right to “fire” them or not work with them. They should take your case seriously in the matter of the law and treat you with respect, just as anyone who is deserving of your hard-earned dollars would do to earn your business.
While you probably don’t need to do a background check on your lawyer, it is recommended that you look up reviews of how they’ve done if they are publicly available. Some lawyers make their living based on word of mouth reviews alone, while others are “billboard” and “online review” lawyers that operate similar to any other business. If you can establish that your lawyer is competent and does what they say, then you’ll be starting off on the right foot.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Other Lawyers (And Pay Them for Their Recommendation)
When searching for a lawyer, even within specialties you can wonder whether you’re going down the right avenue. Trying to find an attorney may eventually become a frustrating needle in a haystack situation in which your needs and budget are so specific that you seemingly can’t find anyone that will do the work you require. In this case, it can actually be worth the money and time invested to pay another lawyer’s hourly fee and ask flat out “who do you recommend?”
While many lawyers are competitive with each other and may even dislike each other, they are still professionals at the end of the day. A lawyer who practices personal injury law might be able to give you the inside knowledge of who has successfully tried residential or industrial injury claims in your town (if it is out of their specialty), or they may tell you to head to a locale or jurisdiction in some other nearby locale. Yes, they will always try to get you to go with them first (any good lawyer would), but if they don’t think they can make the case profitable for them then they will be only too happy to collect an easy fee and send you off.
Often, certain groups of lawyers will work together and send each other clients if they think that someone else’s specialty is suited toward a specific case. If you are handed off to another lawyer on the recommendation of another, there is a high likelihood that you are ending up in better hands. If not, you can always simply walk away and try harder to find an attorney.
All Hope Is Not Lost: Pro Bono and Other Advocacy Groups
At some point in your journey, depending on the severity and specificity of your case, you may come to a crossroads where all hope seems lost. Whether the legal challenges and filing requirements are passed or expensive, or the expertise required to litigate your case is just entirely out of your price range, don’t despair just yet. Lawyers very often do pro bono (without charge) work on a variety of tasks, especially as it pertains to their expertise. There are even professional legal groups that lawyers join and at together on as a unit, such as the ACLU or the American Immigration Council.
By sending your request to an advocacy group that fits your specific needs and causes, you may get the work done for free. However, you will very likely lose control of how your case goes to trial or what timeline it is completed on. This is simply the necessary trade off when you get professional work done without compensation, but it is better than not have a dog in the fight at all. If nobody is willing to take your work claim seriously and you have trouble finding a work injury attorney, then you may end up finding good company in the National Lawyers Guild or other such organizations.
The important lesson to remember is that sometimes it takes a while to find an attorney, and you might have to look in some pretty strange places. It’s unfortunate that you can’t just go down to city hall and ask the judges or other professionals for the next available lawyer, but perhaps that will be a thing of the future. Just as we have food sent to us that is customized directly to our tastes and liking, one day we might have that for all other professionals. Until then, try to take these logical steps toward finding the right lawyer for you. Good luck!