How to Choose a Lawyer
There are many considerations when choosing a lawyer to represent you. You will find a lot of competing information on the web, on TV and in the phone book. Your friends and family are all likely to have advice for you as well. There are some basic things you need to consider as you make your choice of an attorney. Remember, it is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Prospective clients can check to see if a lawyer has had ethics, administrative or discipline problems in the past by checking the South Carolina Bar website scbar.org and using the member quick search feature. It is important to have an ethical, responsible lawyer. You should never choose a lawyer based on an advertisement alone.
Consider these things:
First, what kind of case do you need help with? Lawyers are a lot like doctors in that most have a niche or area of practice that they focus on. If you need a divorce, you want a lawyer that does a lot of Family Court work. If you ask what percentage of the lawyer’s practice is spent in Family Court matters and that lawyer either cannot or will not answer that question, I would suggest you find another lawyer. If you have been arrested, you want a lawyer with substantial criminal law experience, preferably as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. If you have been in a car wreck, you want a lawyer who focuses on those sort of cases. If you need to buy a house, you want a real estate lawyer. So go into the decision knowing what kind of case you have and be ready to ask the lawyer about his or her experience in that area of law. Think of it like this: you would not hire an OB-GYN to do brain surgery.
Once you have narrowed your search down to lawyers that practice in the area you need, you will get to other, more subjective considerations. You should be comfortable with your lawyer. You should have confidence in your lawyer’s ability to handle your situation. You should even like your lawyer. However, remember that your lawyer is your lawyer, not your friend.
It is important to find a lawyer whose practice style is compatible with your goals and your personality. All lawyers do not work the same way. Some people prefer a very aggressive approach, others a more subdued approach. Either style of practice is fine, but you need to be comfortable with it. You should ask about how a lawyer typically conducts their cases at your first meeting with the lawyer.
Remember that you are buying a service. The lawyer is selling his or her time, knowledge and skill to you.
My philosophy is to always be honest with my clients, the Court and the other party. I tell my clients the truth about their situations, whether that truth is painful or not. However, I do not ever let my client be bullied or attacked. I am tough when I have to be, but always in a polite and professional way. I fully believe that mediation and compromise are the keys to long term successful divorced relationships. However, if the other side is not willing to compromise, then there is no choice but to fight. I will leave no stone unturned in vigorously pursuing litigation when necessary.
If you have an UNCONTESTED matter or simply need a will, a power of attorney or other document drafted, consider using VIRTUAL LAW SERVICES. You can find out more about my virtual practice via the link on the left. Virtual services allow the client to have real legal advice, and real results, with much less cost than the normal attorney-client relationship.