FIVE TIPS TO FINDING THE RIGHT LAWYER
Choosing the right lawyer can be a daunting and uncertain process. Since attorneys often deal with very personal and important issues it is extremely important to get the right person for the job. In this article we look at some of the factors to consider when choosing an attorney.
One need look no further than a simple Google search for attorneys in the area to be bombarded with guarantees, claims, comparisons, and various other tidbits of information all competing for one’s attention. Finding the right attorney can be difficult and overwhelming, but the following tips should help you to get started.
TIP 1 – CONSIDER THE ATTORNEY’S AREA OF EXPERTISE
Of all the things that will be listed in this article, this one is the most obvious. The law is an extremely wide area of study with various sub-categories and specializations. It would not be sensible to, for example, retain a criminal law attorney to look at your business contracts. Similarly, it would not be wise to retain a commercial law attorney for a family law matter.
Whilst true specialists in a certain field may often seem more expensive than general practice attorneys, the ultimate cost of referring your matter to a specialist attorney may often be less than referring to a generalist. Specialists can deal with areas within their area of expertise much quicker and more efficiently than generalist attorneys.
TIP 2 –LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Whilst we live in a digital era and the world seems smaller and smaller by the day, the practice of law (and particularly litigation) requires one to be a bit more traditional in their outlook. For example, the Court rules prescribe that an attorney conducting a matter in a particular Court must select an address within 15 kilometers of the Court room for delivery of documents. It is easy to see how this may become problematic if you have attorneys in Durban conducting a matter in Johannesburg. In these cases, your attorneys would have to instruct a correspondent attorney which will incur further costs.
Apart from the challenges associated with litigation matters outside of your attorneys’ geographical location, other factors must also be considered. Because the practice of law necessitates an extremely pronounced exchange of information, it may sometimes not be practical to conduct a matter by means of email correspondence or video conferencing alone. Some matters require large volumes of paper to be handed over; other matters may be so complex and/or emotional in nature that physical in-person meetings are required.
TIP 3 – TEMPERAMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK:
Not all attorneys are created equal. This rings true not only of academic ability, but also of litigation style and temperament. Some attorneys are more aggressive, whilst others are less prone to confrontation. Likewise, some attorneys are very pro-litigation, whilst others tend to avoid litigation at all costs.
In general, it is sensible to appoint an attorney whose temperament and litigation style complements your own and is suited to the matter at hand. In Family Law matters, for example, legislation and Court processes dictate that a more conciliatory approach be taken, whilst in criminal matters it might be better to utilize a more aggressive attorney.
Never underestimate the importance of finding an attorney with the correct temperament and outlook to conduct your matter.
TIP 4 – EXPERIENCE COUNTS!
When selecting an attorney, it is important to note that attorneys with more experience will generally be able to secure better outcomes, because they have learnt the various “tricks of the trade”. Attorneys with more experience are, however, often more traditional in their outlook vis-à-vis things like technology, thinking out of the box, and alternative problem-solving mechanisms.
Converse to the above, an attorney who lacks experience, may try to think out of the box too much and may land you in hot water.
TIP 5 – APPOINT WITHIN YOUR BUDGET
The costs of an attorney are often the defining factor which dictates whether one would appoint them or not. In law, as in many other fields, high price does not necessarily equal high quality.
It is important, when choosing an attorney, to choose an attorney based on the cost to value proposition. In other words, it is important to get the best attorneys for your case within your financial means.
It is unfortunate that many litigants start off making bold claims that “money is not an issue”, and later regret making that statement when they realize that they cannot afford the attorney they have retained.
In general, it is a good idea to look at reviews and testimonials regarding the attorney as being indicative of quality, rather than simply looking at the price.
Attorneys are usually specialists in their chosen field. For this reason, it is important to remember that not all attorneys are created equally. Considering the factors set out above, however, you should be in a much stronger position to retain an attorney who is suited to your case, your temperament, and your pocket.
For more information, please feel free to contact us. We have a team of attorneys, candidate attorneys, and paralegals standing by to assist you.