How To Check A Lawyers Reputation
A lawyer can be your best friend, helping you stay out of jail and ensuring your property is transferred to the rightful heir as efficiently as possible. But how do you know which one to trust? With so many options to choose from, it's easy for law firms that should not be trusted to slip through the cracks. This article should help you discern a trustworthy and reputable lawyer from a shady one.
Every law firm is different and carries different credentials, which will work well for you depending on the essential services. Many qualities make up a good lawyer. Still, this article focuses on 18 traits that are very common among great lawyers who have proven trustworthy over years of service.
To find the right lawyer for you, the following traits are necessary to look out for.
If you want to help your clients understand how a reputable law firm is different from a disreputable one, check out different law firms that have produced free video presentations on how to market an attorney, as well as a free downloadable short story explaining how experience can help you make wise buying choices.
#1. A Reputation Built of Integrity and Experience
The best lawyers have been doing this same work for years and years, mastering the trade and acquiring valuable skills that can save you money and aggravation down the road. These experienced lawyers are also trustworthy in general and won't take your case to get a quick buck (they make money not by how many clients they get but by how much they help their clients).
You can also determine if they are popular based on whether or not they have glowing professional reviews on sites such as Avvo.com and Lawyers.com. You should also check out how a lawyer has been rewarded, especially by the legal community.
#2. A Clean Record of Helping Clients Solve Their Problems
Every state has slightly different requirements for licensing, and a lawyer who has been continually reprimanded by the state or had lawsuits filed against them for malpractice is someone you should avoid.
A law firm that the Better Business Bureau has given a negative review may still be a viable option, but you should check out previous reviews and see what exactly was wrong with their service.
#3. A Reasonable Fee Schedule and Willingness to Negotiate
Excellent lawyers don't have to charge the highest rates to pay the most expensive office rent or have the most up-to-date computer equipment (in fact, experienced lawyers often save money for their clients by avoiding unnecessary paperwork).
Expertise, experience, and reviews make lawyers more expensive than other professions, but they are far more valuable.
#4. Knowledge of Relevant Case Law and the Right Statutes
A good lawyer understands the legal system better than a layperson, so they know where to find relevant case law and past court decisions on a particular topic.
They also know how to read and understand the statutes for a particular topic which can set them apart from other attorneys who are just reading from books or using Wikipedia articles as reference material.
#5. Understands How You Work in Business and What Needs Done as Efficiently as Possible
You may have a limited time frame or other specific needs which will affect how a case is handled. Your lawyer should provide the most efficient solution possible, even if it isn't always the most desirable ones.
#6. Thoroughly Reviews Your Entire Case, Not Just the Parts That Please Them
Many lawyers will not review the entire case and only look at the parts that shine their particular area of expertise (for example, a criminal defense attorney may focus on what their client did, but not why they did it).
A good lawyer will also keep open lines of communication with all parties involved and understand why everyone behaved in a certain way.
#7. Can Explain Their Fees and Ethical Limitations
An excellent lawyer will clearly outline their rates and limits of liability. Still, many lawyers have no written limitations of liability or are too vague or do not give a clear answer when asked about it.
This is because the state requires some limitation of liability (such as $500,000 for malpractice per occurrence), and most lawyers don't want to expose themselves to unnecessary risk if they aren't sure the case is clearly in their favor.
#8. Understands That Trust Is a Two-way Street, So They Are Willing to Invest Time and Earn Your Trust
A lawyer needs to distinguish between a client who is being blatantly rude and demanding money and a client who has legitimate questions. A good lawyer will listen and figure out the problem before formulating an appropriate response.
#9. Does Not Take Advantage of Their Clients, Especially in Ways That Aren't Expected
When you hire a lawyer, your wants should always come before your needs to the maximum extent possible. Still, all lawyers should expect that you are willing to pay higher rates and will make concessions if it comes down to it (i.e., don't ask for every little detail early on).
#10. Smart Enough to Give You Accurate Answers and Honest Recommendations for Advanced Topics
While an excellent lawyer doesn't have to be a legal genius (even lawyers like former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had poor formal education, but he was brilliant), you should make sure that your case is being handled by a man or woman who can give sensible, clear answers and is good at problem-solving.
#11. Professional and Able to Work With Difficult Clients Without Showing Any Form of Bias or Hostility
This includes (but is not limited to) sexual harassment cases where the lawyer acts professionally while their client is making sexual suggestions or racial bias cases where the plaintiff's race is being used as an excuse for mistreatment.
A good lawyer will also deal with clients they disagree with and can clarify the case without entering into a verbal or emotional match.
#12. Dedicated to Helping You and Not Just Getting the Right Verdict
Although it is easy to assume that a lawyer's primary goal is getting your client released from jail or protecting their assets, a lawyer needs to realize that their client's well-being should be the most important thing in any case and not just getting a win in court.
#13. Trustworthy of Your Personal Information
He should be able to keep your secrets held close and who won't betray you if things go south. It may not be a big deal for them if you lie about your current financial status or don't tell the court about your previous criminal record. However, when an excellent lawyer finds out, he or she should still be able to respect that you made a poor decision and keep it confidential.
#14. Willing to Give Up Some of Their Time if They Have a Busy Schedule Without Charging You More
While some lawyers charge at different rates depending on their availability, most lawyers will give up some of their time if you need immediate help or will see you as soon as possible if it is not too much trouble for them (for example, during normal business hours).
#15. Will Agree and Respect Your Decision to Only Pay Certain Fees in an Acceptable Manner
If a lawyer is charging more than you think is reasonable, and you can pay it, that is fine and expected, but you should make sure that your lawyer will not try to get more money out of you than what was agreed upon.
#16. Putting Ratings Into Perspective
It would help if you researched all of your available options when you're looking at hiring a lawyer. Some lawyers have high ratings, but others have low ones.
You'll need to decide for yourself the best course of action when it comes to hiring a lawyer, and making sure you follow the golden rule of law might be the difference between a positive outcome or a negative one. However, this isn't always possible because there's no way to get information on their reputation if they're not rated.
#17. Confirming a Lawyer's Credentials
Before choosing an attorney, it's a good idea to check the lawyer's name in the Public Attorneys Service (PAS). This is where you can find out if they have any licenses or certificates. If they don't have any licenses, you should probably look elsewhere.
For example, suppose the lawyer has a professional license but has not practiced law for ten years and is in their early 20s. In that case, that means that they're still working their way up to make sure they've got the qualifications necessary to compete with more experienced lawyers.
#18. Checking Reviews
You can search on the Attorney and Lawyer Review website to determine how many people have reviewed the attorney. There are thousands of lawyers, so this would be an excellent place to start searching for a reputable lawyer. You'll see the number of reviews and if their reviews have a high percentage of positive responses.
You can then use these results to figure out whether to take that lawyer seriously or not. It's okay if you're unsure about their ability because you can always ask questions afterward. Still, it's better when you're looking for a good lawyer that has great reviews than less qualified lawyers that only have one or two bad ones.
While there are some things that all lawyers have in common (such as having solid knowledge and extensive experience with the law), every lawyer is different and should be capable of handling every client with an entirely different workload.
When you hire an attorney, make sure that they understand your business. The types of cases you deal with, are willing to fully explain any fees or limitations of liability, provide accurate answers to all questions, listen to your concerns and respond appropriately instead of jumping down their throat, will allow you to make decisions agreeably (if needed) and can be reached at a reasonable time during business hours.
Before hiring a lawyer for any legal case, you should also determine their experience with that particular topic. This is because a lawyer with more experience may be more expensive than one with less, but they will better understand all aspects of the case and may have fewer mistakes made during the case, which could save you a lot of time and money.