How Do I Choose a Good Lawyer?
If you are reading this section, you may have decided that you need a lawyer to handle your case. Hiring a lawyer is a very important decision and there is no “Top 50” list that is completely reliable.That said, I suggest the following process:
Do online research about a prospective attorney:
- Where did he/she attend undergraduate and law school? Are they respectable schools?
- Experience: more than 10 years is mandatory for important cases;
- Experience in insurance defense prior to representing plaintiffs;
- Positive client reviews on Google.com;
- He or she should specialize in personal injury and not be a “jack of all trades”;
- Is he or she recognized by the media as an expert?
- Is he or she a published author or speaker?
- Have they been recognized in Superlawyers magazine or are they on Georgia Trend magazine’s “Legal Elite” list?
- Insist on an in-person interview before you decide.
- What types of law do you handle? Beware the lawyer who is a “jack of all trades.” (You want the specialist.)
- How many cases have you tried?
- Have you ever worked in insurance defense for the insurance companies? (Without this experience, the lawyer can make major mistakes in understanding strategy and how to present the case.)
- How many people will be working with me on the case? (It is normal to expect that a paralegal or secretary will be working on the case, but the lawyer should retain primary responsibility for the file—not a case manager.) Can I have your cell phone number?
- How often will you update me on the case status? (You should expect updates on major developments and contact once a month.)
- How many cases are you handling?
- How long will my case take? (You know the real answer from this book, so see what the lawyer says. If he or she promises you it will only be a few months, then you know he or she is either a liar or a lawyer who does not go to court.)
- What is your strategy for my case?
- What is the biggest problem you see with my case?
- Do you charge for copies and simple postage? Will there be interest on the charges? (The answers may shock you.)
- May I speak with some of your former clients?
- Do not hire a law firm just because you saw an advertisement on television. With rare exceptions, I can tell you from experience that those firms are “mill”operations where you will have minimal contact with the actual lawyer and you will be treated like a piece of meat. If you don’t believe me, call them and ask to set an in-person meeting with your actual lawyer before you make a decision.
- Do not hire someone whose name came to you from a phone call after the crash, be it chiropractor or lawyer. This is illegal case “running.” These lawyers are scumbags.
- Do not hire the lawyer the chiropractor recommends. Although sometimes the suggestion is innocent, there is often a client for patient swap going on that interferes with objective judgment about which lawyer actually does a good job.
- Do not use a lawyer referral service. Even the one run by the State Bar of Georgia is a paid service with no warranty on the quality of the legal work.