Q: I am looking to hire an attorney. How do I choose?
A: Find an attorney or law firm that deals exclusively with your type of case. For divorce issues, look for divorce lawyers, for example. Law is a very complex and detailed profession and just because an attorney is highly skilled in one area does not mean that the attorney has the aptitude or the ability to handle your medical malpractice case. Different lawyers practice different kinds of law.
Also ask about the attorney’s education and experience. Results and experience are important, but Indiana Lawyers are prohibited from advertising statistical data other information based upon their past performance. The best approach is to simply ask the lawyer or law firm – they should be more than willing to give you the information.
Q: Is the internet a useful tool to find a lawyer?
A: The internet is a powerful tool but remember it is the beginning of your search for an attorney. Establishing an attorney/client relationship is a matter of personal choice, comfort and confidence in the attorney’s ability. The internet is not an appropriate medium to measure an attorney’s ability to represent you.
Also remember that websites are advertisements. You should read the advertising carefully and also formulate questions to ask the attorney. If you are having difficulty obtaining a return phone call or answers to your questions, that evasiveness should send off warning bells. Remember that the attorney/client relationship is a personal relationship. That relationship should be formed after meeting the attorney in his office.
Q: I found a law firm and they sound reputable, but how do I really know?
A: Check with Martindale Hubbel which gives candid ratings of a lawyer’s ability and integrity.
Q: What are some questions I should asked before hiring an attorney or a law firm?
A: There are several. No question is wrong if you want the answer to it. Among the most common questions asked:
- Do you accept certain kinds of cases?
- What is your track record?
- Have any of your cases been published or resulted in reported decisions?
- What professional groups and associations do you belong to?
Q: How is a lawyer paid for the services he renders?
A: Different areas of law my charge differently. Many divorce lawyers charge flat rates for certain things, such as adoptions, the same for bankruptcy lawyers and criminal defense attorneys. Business and/or transactional lawyers traditionally bill by the hour and their hourly rates vary by years of experience and type of expertise.
However in the area of injury and accident law, attorneys typically work on a contingency fee agreement. Accident and person injury cases are complex and costly, and in contingency fee agreements, the contingency is applied only if you win.
In contingent fee contracts, most lawyers’ fees range from 33% to 40% of the total award, depending on the case. Often the best lawyer in the field and the worst lawyer will charge the same percentage.