If you are in a situation where you need a talented and experienced law firm to represent you, it can be very overwhelming and confusing. Unless you know about the legal profession well, you may be unsure of the best questions to ask or how to proceed to secure a skilled attorney to represent you.
It is tempting to just hire whoever has the biggest billboard and call it a day, figuring that the loudest advertising materials must mean that they are the best attorneys in the business. From family members’ recommendations to a lack of reviews online, it may feel like your best bet is to sign an agreement with the first law firm to return your call. However, when you sign an agreement with a lawyer you have not vetted, you could be causing more problems than solutions for yourself.
The experienced attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas want to help you make the most informed decision you can in choosing a lawyer, so we have compiled the top 5 mistakes people make when hiring a lawyer.
5 Mistakes to Avoid Making When Hiring a Lawyer
#1 – Not Researching Your Options
We’ve all seen those ads on television where lawyers are appealing to your emotions in order to get you to call them. Chances are your first reaction is to think, “They’re on TV, so they must be good!”
In reality, buying an ad on television or a large billboard on the highway is as easy for lawyers as it is for any other profession– as long as the firm has the money to spend on advertising, they will constantly sell themselves as the best in the business.
These ads do not have fact checkers, making it easy for anyone to claim that they can guarantee you something, despite having never looked at the details of your case. While persuasive ads and eye-catching gimmicks might look nice, these things do not win lawsuits– good lawyers do.
The most beneficial thing you can do for your chances to win a case is to research local NC attorneys with good reputations. You can do this by reading client reviews, looking through the websites of law firms, and even taking notes on the types of cases each lawyer you look at has won that are similar to your own.
#2 – Not Considering the Attorney’s Area of Expertise
Imagine you needed to have heart surgery– would you seek out the advice of a brain surgeon? No, would you instead find the best surgeon in your area who focuses on cardiothoracic medicine, the area of practice for which you need their expertise? When thinking about how to pick a lawyer in NC, just as with your medical needs, you would not hire an attorney whose experience lies solely in family law to represent you in a personal injury case.
When researching lawyers in the Raleigh area, it’s important to ask about the types of law they practice, the number of cases they have taken that are similar to yours, and what their rate of success is in those cases. Focusing on the attorney’s area of expertise and finding one that mirrors the type of representation you need will ensure that you receive the best advice you can for your particular case, as well as the best chance of a positive outcome.
#3 – Not Asking the Right Questions
When a lawyer sits down to interview you about your case, you should also interview the lawyer and the lawyer’s firm. Don’t be afraid to ask pertinent questions about the firm’s experience with your type of case as well as questions about their credentials. Additionally, it is smart to ask questions that are specific to your case, like the type of strategy they would propose taking to win if you secured their representation.
You have a right to expect a law firm to take the time to listen to you and then make informed decisions regarding how to best represent your interests.
The lawyer should be prepared to answer the following questions to your satisfaction:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What law school did you attend?
- How familiar are you with this type of case?
- What is your success rate in handling cases similar to mine?
- What kind of strategy would you take for my case?
- Do you see this case being settled outside of court or do you think we will go to trial?
- Are you comfortable potentially taking this case to trial?
- What issues do you anticipate we might be met with in this case?
- Will you be the lawyer representing me or will it be another lawyer in the office?
- How often will we be in touch throughout the process of my case?
- How much will this cost including fees?
Asking variations of these questions as well as follow-up questions as they arise throughout the course of your initial consultation with your attorney will help you get an overview of the type of service this law firm provides. Remember, any lawyer can give you the answers you want to hear– be sure to pay attention to not only their words, but their body language, the culture of the firm, their willingness to share client testimonials or anecdotes, and if you feel comfortable with them representing you.
#4 – Hiring a Particular Lawyer as a Favor
If you do not know a lawyer personally, the moment people you know hear you are looking for a lawyer, you’ll receive endless amounts of recommendations from friends, coworkers, family, and anyone who has heard a whisper of your legal needs.
Everyone you know is going to have something to say if they know you need an attorney– from the nice woman at church whose grandson practices locally, to your best friend’s nephew who would benefit from taking on a new case because he just graduated law school, or even the next door neighbor who practices law and points out how you owe them a favor from a few years back.
Despite being well-meaning most of the time, you should never make decisions that affect your best interest in a court of law because you owe someone a favor, are trying to be kind, or think that you owe someone something. While you can certainly vet lawyer recommendations that come from friends, family, or acquaintances, when it comes down to signing a legal contract with a lawyer, you should make the decision based on your own needs, instincts, and confidence in the attorney’s expertise.
#5 – Thinking You Cannot Afford Legal Representation
When discussing how to pick a lawyer in NC, or anywhere for that matter, you almost always hear complaints about per-hour costs, being charged for small incremental items that were unexpected, or just how having an attorney will result in endless amounts of bills you cannot afford.
The “keys to the courthouse” should be available to everyone, regardless of their economic circumstances. Unfortunately, all too often governments and corporations who possess large pocketbooks try to use their ability to spend money on legal representation to gain an advantage over individuals and small businesses.
At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas we make every effort to structure our fee arrangements in a way that’s affordable to our clients. Many of our cases are taken on the basis of a percentage of recovery in which our clients pay no attorney fee unless we make a recovery in their favor.
We always remember that individual and small business clients are what built this law firm and we are honored to represent them.
Checklist of Important Things to Consider When Hiring a Lawyer
- Have you interviewed multiple lawyers to get a sense of how different personalities or firms might represent you?
- Does the lawyer communicate (both in writing and in person) well?
- Do you feel comfortable having this lawyer represent you?
- Do you believe the things the lawyer is telling you?
- What does the culture of the law firm feel and seem like?
- Has this law firm/lawyer handled cases like yours in the past?
- What is the record of cases won that are similar to your own?
- What is the lawyer/law firm’s reputation like?
- Is the law firm located in a convenient place to where you live?
- Does this lawyer have the available time needed to dedicate to your case?
- Does the legal agreement account for fees and costs I might not expect?
- Are you comfortable with the upfront/long-term costs presented to you?
- Is the law firm willing to present you with testimonials from former clients?
- Is the lawyer telling you everything will work out perfectly, or are they presenting you with realistic expectations for your case?
Looking for a Lawyer in NC? Contact Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas Today!
At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas we make every effort to structure our fee arrangements in a way that’s affordable to our clients. Many of our cases are taken on the basis of a percentage of recovery in which our clients pay no attorney fee unless we make a recovery in their favor. We always remember that individual and small business clients are what built this law firm and we are honored to represent them. Call us at 919-615-2473 to discuss how we can help you.
Protecting your Privacy ~ Your privacy is our primary concern. At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP., we understand the importance of protecting your privacy and will never share your contact information with a 3rd party. Contacting our law firm does not imply any form of attorney-client relationship.