It makes no sense to think that all lawyers are the same or that “call us quick, no fee if no recovery” is a good reason to choose an attorney. But when you pick up the Yellow Pages, see an ad on TV, or check on the internet, how can you sort through the thousands of attorneys who advertise?
How do you choose the right lawyer? Not everyone needs a lawyer after an injury, but some do. If you haven’t hired an attorney yet, you should ask the lawyer who wants to represent you some questions. What questions should I ask a lawyer?
We recommend you ask each lawyer you speak to some tough questions as you navigate how to choose the right lawyer:
1. Do you know your way around the courtroom?
When was the last case you tried? How many cases have you tried?
Some lawyers talk tough, but really don’t know how to talk to juries. Do most cases go to trial? No, but insurance companies and their lawyers know which lawyers can try cases. They will know which lawyers are afraid to go to court and that reputation will likely affect your settlement. You will typically receive more fair compensation if the other side knows your lawyer is willing and able to try a case.
2. Will you be handling my case?
Many TV lawyers are really just advertisers. They go on TV, talk a good game, sign the person up, and then turn around and send the case to an attorney you’ve never met or have an assistant do all the work on the case. Some referrals to other attorneys can be helpful, but you need to know that up front. You need to know who your lawyer really will be. Before you hire an attorney, you ought to put that attorney to a test: leave him or her a message. See how long it takes for the attorney to return your call. If he or she is bad about returning phone calls, he or she will probably be sloppy with your case.
3. Would you tell me about your last loss?
If a lawyer tells you he’s never lost a case, he’s probably not telling you the truth. Good lawyers lose cases if they’re actually in the courtroom fighting the good fight. Good lawyers learn more from their losses than their wins and do better the next time. In fact, you should ask them about how they are trying to improve their trial practice.
4. How much is my case worth?
If the lawyer gives you an amount when you first speak to him about your situation, you should probably look for another attorney. Competent lawyers do their research first before they can give you an educated opinion about your claim. They find out what your injuries are and what your future looks like. They may need to speak to your doctor about risks of future problems and the need for surgery down the road.
What are your medical bills? What are your lost wages? Will you have difficulty in the future earning a living? How much insurance does the wrongdoer have? Does he have umbrella or excess insurance coverage? Lawyers who know how to handle injury cases won’t give you a case value without doing their homework first. If the lawyer you speak to promises you a result, you may be walking down a primrose path. Thank that lawyer for his or her time and call someone else right away.
5. What do other lawyers say about you?
What do your opponents and other lawyers say about the lawyer you’re thinking about hiring? A lawyer’s reputation can really help you on your case. You can check out your lawyer’s reputation by going to the Martindale Hubbell website where attorneys are rated by judges and other lawyers. Or the State’s main legal organization, the Bar. In Missouri, you can check out the lawyer on the Missouri Bar’s website.
6. How can I learn more about your firm before making a decision?
You might be reluctant to meet with an attorney at first. You may be concerned about someone pressuring you to sign a contract before you’re ready. And you won’t see high-pressure tactics at our firm. But maybe you want to do some research before you make a decision. If that’s you, feel free to email us confidentially at email@example.com and ask for some free information that can help you make the right decision for you.
Keep in mind, though, that the choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. Disregard this solicitation if you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this solicitation. You may wish to consult your lawyer or another lawyer instead of us. The exact nature of your legal situation will depend on many facts not known to us at this time. You should understand that the advice and information in this solicitation is general and that your own situation may vary. This statement is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Have questions about your case or on how to choose the right lawyer? Call us on our cellphones anytime or through our contact form: