A person may never know when they are faced with the task of searching for and selecting a legal professional to help then with their legal problems. This could be a divorce, death in the family or lawsuit to name a few. Often when these situations occur people may not fully be in their best state of mind which leads to the common horror stories about choosing a so called professional only to learn they have scammed you and your legal issues have not been solved, but rather complicated more so. The following aspects are a few easy to consider aspects when looking for a legal professional to assist you.
- Price Point. Be far price point is one of the least important factors when looking for a legal professional. I only place this item at the top because many people base their decisions for legal help upon the price point. Cheapest is not the best. A good deal on a burger or some socks may be great, but consider this; for an important and critical legal matter that could have major bearing on your present and future life, do you want to use a bargain service? The answer should be know. I’m not saying look for the highest priced service, but understand if something is cheaper than most of the industry standards, there is a reason.
- Experience. Experience is always a good aspect to consider when search for a professional legal service. Not saying you need to search for the business that has been around since the civil war, but typically the longer a business has been around, the more variables they have seen and are familiar with. Although someone may have make or experience working with another firm or company, if they are recently on their own they may be unfamiliar with certain aspects they didn’t have to address at previous positions. Look for a company who has been in the industry for a fair amount of time and understand what they handle and if it is a good fit for the specific legal service you need. A quick example of a green flag with respect to experience would be Just Document Preparation, a professional legal document preparation & paralegal service in Riverside, CA company who just recently celebrated 20 years. Same location, same phone number, same company name, and same owner since 1996. Stats like that are harder to find these days.
- Reviews. We live in a world where reviews are a huge factor with any decision, not just legal professionals. Sites like Yelp and Google Business Places provide platforms for clients to share their experience with a business directly to anyone on the internet. These reviews make it easy for potential shoppers to get a bit on insight into the workings of a business. Here is what to look for with respect to reviews: Find reviews on major search sites which will ensure they are current, relevant and have some aspect of spam filtering. Yelp, Google are popular choices. If you see a bad review don’t run for the hills yet. We have all in our professional life had a bad experience or dealt with a client who was not going to be happy no matter what you do. A bad review may be an example of this. See how many positive reviews counter the bad. If you see nothing but, or more bad than good reviews it is a sign to stay away. If people are having the same issue then it could be the business, not a rouge client. For a legal search, our directory Legallistings.org allows users to upload reviews about any legal business, legal professional, and even government offices in the legal industry. Our reviews are spam checked on several factors and even provide an average rating based on the total rating of the listing.
- Information Provided by Professional. If you are search for a legal professional you are going to get pitch after pitch over the phone or in their office during an overview or consultation. Here’s what I suggest you consider during this part of the process. Ask yourself, did the professional attempt to make me understand the process, or did they tell me everything I wanted to hear. A true legal professional lays out expectations of time, costs, procedures and more upfront. They understand by doing so their clients and them are on the same page to work together, not against each other. The so called professional who merely states they can handle everything no problem and tries to sign a contract is suspect. By not understanding what your professional is doing for you, you have no idea of what to expect, potential surprise costs or even potential liabilities. Understand the process and you will then have a better understanding of which professional is a good fit for you.
- Regulatory Board Information. Most of the legal industry has some form of oversight. Attorneys have the State Bar, process servers and Legal Document Assistants registered at local County Recorders and even Legal Newspapers adjudicated by the Courts. Most of these professionals have requirements to stay in good standing such as ongoing training and more. Understand the regulations and requirements for the professional you’re looking for and who maintains those. You may be able to do a simple online search to confirm their credentials are valid and current. For example, here’s an article I wrote about checking credentials of a California Attorney. Making sure someone is legally allowed to perform services doesn’t seem like someone you would have to do, but you would also be surprised on how many people out there are willing to take your money anyways.
- Focused or “Specialist” Attorneys. State Bar Associations often allow an attorney to focus on a specific practice area and advertise as a “Specialist” – meaning that they have to have a certain experience, education and continuing education in order to call themselves a specialist. Other attorneys choose to focus their practice on one type of legal matter without pursuing a certification of specialty from their State Bar. For instance, In Law We Trust is a family law firm dedicated to specifically serving fathers in Florida; Legal Ride Share is a firm that focuses on cases specifically against rideshare services. Finding a firm that focuses specifically on your matter can greatly help you hire the right lawyer.
In closing just remember to do as much research as possible when looking for a legal professional. This is someone you are trusting with a major aspect of your life and going to be working with for some length of time. Finding a good fit from the start can save time and money and importantly a bigger problem than what you started with.